Cate Le Bon lived in complete solitude for a year and then wrote a pop masterpiece

Cate Le Bon lived in complete solitude for a year and then wrote a pop masterpiece

Words by Tom Parker

We chat to the renowned Welsh songwriter before her Australian tour kicks off this week.

When Welsh pop connoisseur Cate Le Bon drops Down Under this week, she’ll be arriving alongside two 2019 records, Reward and Myths 004.

The former of the two has been heralded as one of the year’s most adventurous releases – another redefinition of the pop landscape, another transcendent odyssey.

The latter was whisked together alongside an old pal of hers, Bradford Cox, who is also known for his work fronting Deerhunter, alongside his solo project, Atlas Sound.

Collaboration has become a big cog in Le Bon’s creative coupe, and it was reciprocation that pulled her and Cox together.

“[Bradford and I] were friends via email due to mutual fandom of one another and I was given the opportunity to collaborate with someone on a Marfa Myths project and it was the perfect opportunity to do something with Bradford.”

Every year, the Marfa Myths festival in Texas asks two musicians to produce an impromptu EP, which is then released through record label Mexican Summer as part of its Myths series. Myths 004 was the fourth instalment of the initiative, a whimsical connexion of two music wizards.

You can also find the likes of Perfume Genius and White Fence’s Tim Presley nestled within the crevices of Le Bon’s avant palette. Presley and Le Bon together formed DRINKS, another sonically daring project that messes with musical uniformity.

Meeting Presley was another example of Le Bon benefiting from peripheral exploration.

“I moved to Los Angeles maybe six years ago and entered a different pool of musicians,” Le Bon says. “There’s lots of people who you admire their work and they admire your work and you talk about collaborating, but it just doesn’t work out or it just never happens, and you just get the joy from talking about it.

“But I don’t know, there was something different about mine and Tim’s like-mindedness and I ended up filling in on guitar for a White Fence tour and it was off the back of that tour that we decided to go straight into a rehearsal room and write some songs together.”

Le Bon’s fifth solo album, Reward, released in May of this year has been regarded as the songwriter’s magnum opus, a culmination of pop genius that’s magical and resplendent.

The LP spurred from solitude. Ripping up the scrapbook and relocating to the mountainous Lake District of England, Le Bon entered herself into furniture school and stepped back from music, at least in a vocational sense.

After spending her days crafting chairs and tables, Le Bon spent her nights behind the piano dillydallying away in her own creative milky way.

Subliminally so, this would incite Le Bon’s next rise.

“Changing my entire life, going to furniture school. It was probably the first time in my life that music wasn’t at the forefront of my mind constantly and it allowed me to exist without any kind of surveillance,” Le Bon says.

“For me to sit by the piano and not have any awareness that I was writing a song for an album … the idea of an invented audience or reason had just completely disappeared.

“The product of solitude and not being interrupted and turning to the piano for company rather than friends or family, allowed me to accomplish lots of different things. It gave me the space I needed for it to become my hobby and feel like I loved it again.”

Le Bon’s next adventure comes when she arrives in Australia for a national tour. Kicking off in Perth, Le Bon will play shows in Sydney and Brisbane before she ventures into Victoria for three shows and a special guest DJ set.

It’s her first Australian trip since 2016 but Le Bon isn’t one to get carried away, offering a simple forecast of the shows to come.

“I’m just excited to play shows really, going back to somewhere we haven’t been for a long time,” Le Bon says. “I’m looking forward to playing with some Australian bands … I’ve seen the possibilities and there’s some really great bands in Australia so that will be nice.”

Cate Le Bon Australian tour:

Monday December 9 – Rosemount Hotel, Perth WA

Wednesday December 11 – Factory Theatre, Sydney NSW

Thursday December 12 – The Foundry, Brisbane QLD

Friday December 13 – Theatre Royal, Castlemaine VIC

Saturday December 14 – Meredith Music Festival

Sunday December 15 – Croxton Bandroom, Melbourne VIC

Grab your tickets via the above ticket links.