Flying the flag for that unique Welsh strain of homely psychedelia, Cate Le Bon's scuffed-up bedroom pop is like the weird daydreams of Syd Barrett seen through the eyes of Faust, Jacques Dutronc and Gorky's Zygotic Mynci.
Her second album Cyrk – which means 'circus' in Polish – is out on Gruff Rhys' Turnstile subsidiary label Ovni on 30th April, and she'll be supporting The Brian Jonestown Massacre and Perfume Genius on tour in April and May. Before getting back on the road, the softly-spoken musician tells Topman GENERATION about going loopy in the Hebrides and recording “horrible” sax solos in her living room.
Topman GENERATION: Hello Ms Le Bon. You claim to live in Cardiff's French Quarter, but that seems a bit unlikely to me. What's your affiliation with the French?
Cate Le Bon: Well, I often dream about being French, but unfortunately as opposed to dressing like a French woman I dress how a Welsh woman thinks a French woman might dress.
TG: What makes Cardiff a good place for musicians?
CLB: I've always thought that Wales has quite a unique fold of musicians. Cardiff is a very generous music scene, where regardless of how well the bands are doing it never really makes a difference to the social aspect. Members of bands will always help one another out, as opposed to bands being in competition – it's a very supportive, nice scene to be working in.
TG: Did you really record the album in a living room in North Wales?
CLB: Yeah, we went to my best friend's house, who plays guitar for me, in a place called Bethesda. We set up in the front room and ate pancakes and jammed together. I like to escape when making music and writing music, there are far too many distractions elsewhere – and that's not me being, like, ‘at one with nature’ – it’s just knowing that I'd be on the sofa watching Diagnosis Murder and snoozing if I could.
TG: You’ve described the album as a time travel travelogue – is there a concept running through the songs?
CLB: Not so much, but I think the imagery tends to return to the sea or an island, and I think that comes from being at a festival a couple of years ago on the isle of Eigg [in the Scottish Inner Hebrides]. It was just mindblowingly incredible to be so secluded – everyone went a little bit bananas, you’re on this tiny island and everyone’s drinking and having a great time. And I think there’s some kind of security being on an island – you can’t really get lost and you can’t go further than a certain amount. It had a quite lasting effect on me.
Read the second half of the interview at Topman GENERATION, where you'll a few other pretty decent interviews, actually.