Ones To Watch: Cate Le Bon

Death-fixated freak-folkster
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A death-fixated freak-folk fixture on the South Wales scene for a number of years, it’s taken a fair while for Cate Le Bon to finally release debut album ‘Me Oh My’ to the wider world.

The reason why also explains how the raven-haired songstress could already seem a touch familiar to the eagle eyed: after duetting with Super Furry Animals leader Gruff Rhys on the sultry ‘I Lust U’ from Neon Neon album ‘Stainless Style’, Le Bon was whisked off on tour with the Mercury Prize-nominated group.

“This album’s been ready for about a year and a half,” admits Le Bon, who grew up in West Wales outpost Penboyr. “But the whole Neon Neon thing took a massive chunk out of my time, so it would have been quite difficult to put an album out.”

Good pal Rhys is a long-time champion and, having handed Le Bon past support slots with the Super Furries, is now honouring ‘Me Oh My’ as the first release on his fledgling Irony Bored label, after the record’s initial local run on cassette.

“The nice thing about different formats is that cassette sounds unique to cassette, you can’t beat that sound, and vinyl similarly is a unique sound,” she says. “I’m just over the moon that I’m able to do this album with Gruff. He’s such a great person for advice. He’s like a mentor.”

Tapping a not-dissimilar vein of woozy surrealism to Rhys’s day job, the “pretty mental” video to ‘Hollow Trees House Hounds’ is entirely recommended viewing, as Le Bon variously, err, lays an egg before being dismembered by a mob of cardboard villagers. Currently based in the rather less bizarre surroundings of Cardiff, despite confirming mother tongue affiliations on last year’s Welsh language EP ‘Edrych Yn Llygaid Ceffyl Benthyg’, ‘Me Oh My’ is an English-only affair.

“If you think of it as an instrument, the sound of the words and everything, some songs naturally should be in English and some, to me, sound like they should be in Welsh,” she explains. “This bunch of songs all happen to be in English. Welsh just sounds completely different.”

Following dates opening for Super Furry Animals and Slow Club this autumn, Le Bon’s next plan is recording a first album with her Krautrock-leaning side band Means Heinz, then a solo EP produced by members of Mancunian psych-folksters Voice Of The Seven Woods. A morbid semi-mythical conceptual project concerning deceased furry friends entitled ‘Pet Deaths’, however, isn’t likely to join the aforementioned on record store shelves any time soon…

“I kind of buried it, which is apt,” she laughs. “It just went too far. When [producer] Kris Jenkins brought out a jaw harp, that was a good indication to put it to bed.”

Words by Adam Anonymous

Where: Cardiff
What: Folk
Unique Fact: Irony Bored, the label releasing ‘Me Oh My’, is named in reference to an ironing board that once belonged to imprint boss Gruff Rhys.
Get 3 songs: ‘Shoeing The Bones’, ‘Hollow Trees House Hounds’, ‘It’s Not The End’

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