A little while ago I went to a Shakey Graves show. There were two opening acts and the venue was jammed with hipsters and cell phones. I only mention this because when the first band went on – Cat Clyde, almost everyone in the venue was talking and had their head buried in their screens.
That is until Cat Clyde started singing.
Here was this diminutive figure on the dark stage with a voice as big as Ma Rainey prying those eyes away from their screens with the sheer beauty of a song and the power of her voice.
In the interview below, Cat says:
“if you’re not feeling it or meaning it, there’s no point in doing it.”
Just one listen and you’ll be feelin’ it.
With a truly remarkable voice, rapt attention to songcraft and that star quality – I believe you’ll be hearing a lot from Cat Clyde. Her debut – Ivory Castanets, was released in November. If you dig the blues, you won’t want to miss this. Oh and she’s got a surf-punk side project called The Shitbats….what’s there not to love?
Cat Clyde (Caitlin Blockeel) – Vocals, Guitar, Songwriting
London, Ontario by way of Stratford.
How did you become Cat Clyde?
I used to hang out in graveyards a lot when I was in high school, and one of the headstones said ‘Clyde’ and I really liked that name and thought it was very old-timey. I figured ‘Cat’ was kind of an abbreviation of my own name ‘Caitlin’ and I thought they went together pretty well.
Describe your sound to someone who has never heard your music.
That is a very hard question to answer, but it is very bluesy with lots of emotion and feeling. I believe if you’re not feeling it or meaning it, there is no point in doing it. Anyone can just sing a song, but if you hear someone experiencing the song, it moves people.
What music has had an influence on you?
The Blues has had the biggest influence on me, mostly Delta Blues. Artists like Robert Johnson, Lead Belly, Bessie Smith, and Memphis Minnie to name a few. Another big influence for me has been Jazz artists like Billie Holiday, Cab Calloway, Etta James, and The Boswell Sisters. Patsy Cline is another huge influence for me.
Tell us about your live show…
I used to play live with Patrick Fockler for many months when we were working on my album together. It was very high energy, it incorporated Rhodes piano, slide guitar and lead guitar, the things you hear on the album. But he recently left to pursue other endeavours, so as of recently I have been playing solo acoustic shows just me and my guitar, which is a lot more intimate. I am looking to incorporate new instruments and aspects into my show in the near future.
How does your songwriting process work?
It is very spontaneous. I never sit down with a plan to write a song, it always just comes out of me at very random moments.
What influences you lyrically?
Basically anything of importance that is going on in my life.
If you could pick any time to travel back to for music, where would you go and what year would it be?
I would go down south to Mississippi area where the Vaudeville circuit was in full swing, early 1900s.
What tunes are currently on heavy rotation for you…
Fats Waller – Ain’t Misbehavin’
Karen Dalton – Little Bit Of Rain
The Boswell Sisters – Down Among The Sheltering Palms
Al Bowlly – I Love You Truly
Billie Holiday – T’Ain’t Nobody’s Bizness If I Do
Dennis Brown – Silhouettes
If you could tour with any band right now who would that be and why?
The Vaudevillian because I really like his sound, I can’t find too many new artists I truly enjoy.
If you could only bring ONE record in the tour van/bus/plane what would it be?
Karen Dalton – You Never Know Who’s Going To Love You The Best.
When you’re not playing and have some time off, where could we find you?
Adventuring with my dog Kuma in a train yard, open field, or forest.
What’s up for the rest of 2015 and 2016?
Right now I am working on a new record, all the songs are already written and I am going to begin recording them really soon. I am also doing a few other projects, releasing an album with my surf-punk band The Shitbats, and recording an album with my new project Driftwood Ramblers.