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On a rest day in the midst of their current UK tour we caught up with Cara Robinson of Hatfitz and Cara. The Irish woman with the beautiful voice was swept off her feet quite literally when she first met the wild man of Australian blues. Visually and vocally they are complete opposites but together they produce a unique sound. Take in one of their shows and you will be hooked forever!
How’s the tour going?
Its going great. A couple of lovely venues on the tour. The one last night was Worthing Pavilion, a really beautiful building, restored from the 1930s in art deco style, really really beautiful.
Who on earth plans your tours? You shows are up and down the country like I don’t know what!
I know, I know – actually last year was the same. And it was the same gentleman that did it! Yeah, it is a bit crazy, we seem to be passing a lot of places that we’ve played and.. oh, there we are going back there again and on to the next one so its a wee bit higgelty piggelty.
But are you enjoying it?
Yeah I’m enjoying it. The thing is with the UK, its not necessarily the miles, its just getting there without traffic jams or roadworks because its quite populated from what we are used to. We are used to big open roads in Australia and Canada.
Before we go further I’ve been asked to say that Jon Hart of Honey and the Bear sends his love.
Oh great, is he going to be at the John Peel Centre?
Yes, Honey and the Bear are your support act! Now just in case there is anyone out there that haven’t heard of Hatfitz and Cara, there you were at the Castlebar Blues Festival and you bumped into this bloke… was it love at first sight and what was his chat up line?
Aw… his chat up line, now you’re askin’… very brief actually, but straight to the point: “Di ya fancy a dance?” That was what he said in his Australian brogue, he shuffled me onto the dance floor and we danced most awkwardly for a time. And then we didn’t really speak, we just danced, we did a wee bit of a country hooley around the floor, ’cause it was the last song of the night with the band, and all of the musicians from the festival had come together – it was really the first time we had all been able to see each other in the flesh, as we were all playing at the same time during the festival.
We were quite shy around each other actually, he knocked the back of my head out on a marble pillar as we were dancin’ and I woke up on his shoulders in a fireman’s lift! That’s the truth, that actually happened!
I can believe that and it’s all been a bed of roses ever since, yes?
It has. We have been very lucky, we were talkin’ about that today, we were doin’ a wee video today in Worthing and were sayin’ that we are so lucky to be sharin’ the road together.
Do you get much time to spend at home these days?
We do.. eh, yes and no! The time that we have at home would roughly be about half a year and the other half of it is intensely on the road, in Europe, UK, Canada – America this year and Memphis, we did the Memphis International Blues Challenge last year – we went over representing Australia…
You mean you weren’t representing Ireland?
No, no actually (laughs) I actually have more support over in Australia regards music. We would do a lovely venue called The Black Box, and we have done the Open House festival in Ireland which is great but this year we are not doing anything, nobody has reached out but next year we are planning on knocking on a few doors with the festivals.
You have a penchant for vintage dresses, haven’t you?
I do, yes, I am a wee partial.
Does Fitz go shopping with you for dresses?
He does. Yeah, he actually does, he would come along and say ‘yes’, ‘no’… he’s quite direct. He gives good advice, believe it or not, quite shocking, you wouldn’t think. But I don’t go shopping with him when he is shopping for amps and guitars, that is something that is totally separate.
I heard a rumor that you have a new single out.
We do, yeah. It’s called “Doin it Again” it is released on Bandcamp, just a couple of days ago and you can buy it from Bandcamp for a pound. We are just puttin’ together a video for it at the moment to be released. Then we are going to be releasin’ the new album called “After the Rain” early next year in the UK.
Do you write when you are on the road or do wait until you get back home or does it just happen?
You can’t time it, when inspiration is going to hit you – there are, like last night there was a gentleman who came to our show, he was buying a CD and he came up and chatted, he’d been in prison many years ago and was explaining about other prisoners who had been in that prison, there was a huge story behind them. It was very interesting, you might a lot of interesting people along the road. We love writing about things that have happened or you know, real life events that are significant of the time. You are really writing all the time, the light is constantly on. It is then when you get home that you can do the majority of an album and putting pen to paper but whilst on the road sometimes there is a blast and you just get a song there and then – its about of both really.
You have toured with Jamiroquai and Corrine Bailey Rae haven’t you?
Well Corrine is a good friend of mine from back in Leeds, I lived there for about seven years, we had a band together called Women on Top and then she asked me to sing on hit her album “Girl Get Your Records On” and then I co-wrote a song with Wayne Pollock and that went on the B side of one of her releases.
We supported Jamiroquai… I was a backing singer for… I did a lot of session work a few years back and I was singing for Rhianna Kenny who was supporting Jamiroquai in Japan and Beverley Knight as well.
How is all of that different from touring with Fitz then?
Oh nothing compares to this, what we are doing now, we are sharing the experience on the road together, we are writing our music together and we are making music that we have a passion for. There is meaning in the lyrics for us, it means something. Whereas it was amazing being on the road, jettin’ over to Japan and being there for ten days and flyin’ back and we played London Apollo, Brighton, Manchester Academy, Ssouthampton, Hull – wonderful halls and big gigs but it wasn’t the personal experience that we are having now. IT is more personal and there is more meaning to it, its OUR music.
Do you ever get to relax on tour?
NO! Thats a straight no Tony, that does not happen! If anybody says it does obviously they are not gigging much! We have a night off tonight and tomorrow we are at the Half Moon in Putney.
On stage you and Fitz… you seen to be an argumentative couple… is this an extension of home?
That is literally us, we are argumentative, we are both strong minded but when there is big decisions to be made we do have a compromise. For that final decision we make sure that we both are happy. We bend for each other, I think you have to have a certain amount of flexibility in a relationship, that’s what makes it work. And we are very lucky that there is a tremendous love between us – you know a relationship could be like an elastic band – you go on so far and then you go back in again.
Of course in the middle of this UK tour you are off to Norway… as you do.
Yes we are playing at the Nidaros Blues Festival in Norway,
The tour goes London, Northampton, Norway, Sussex! That’s what prompted me to ask the earlier question about who plans your tours! I presume you don’t have a driver and roadies with you on this tour?
No – we are pretty compact. We have had a lot of requests over the years to video the whole trip, like do a reality thing, where they video everything. But it would have to be a really patient person! Fitzy is actually the designated driver, the whole way around the UK & Europe. But in Canada we did have a road manager and that was great, it was lovely, it took the pressure off us.
Thank you Cara for taking the time to talk to us here are Grapevine Magazine and I look forward to meeting up again at the John Peel Centre in Stowmarket on April 28th
You can catch Hatfitz and Cara n tour in the UK here:
19th April Half Moon Putney London
20th April Talking Heads Southampton
22nd April Nidaros Blues Festival, Norway
23rd April Nidaros Blues Festival, Norway
27th April Chidham & Hambrook Village Hall, Sussex
28th April John Peel Centre Stowmarket
29th April Norden Farm Maidenhead
30th April Peak Concerts Whitworth Centre, Darley Dale Derbyshire
3rd May Café ´t Vereinshoes Vaals Netherlands
4th May Mühlengastof Petershagen Germany
5th May Die Röhre Moers Germany
6th May De Singer Rijkevoorsel Belgium
7th May N9 Villa Eeklo Belgium | Facebook Event
11th May De Knoet Aarschot Belgium
12th May Bürgerbahnhof Wuppertal Germany
13th May Cafe De Pieter Maastricht Netherlands
14th May Kwadendamme Bluesfestival Holland
15th May Grolsch Blues Festival Schöppinge Germany