I’m very taken with Cat Green Bike’s latest EP Breakbeat/Thrash/Concrete. Don’t let the title fool you, there’s very few breakbeats, very little thrash, and it’s a whole lot more beautiful than concrete. You can get the CD (if there are any left) on a pay-what-you-like basis or download the whole thing free on Foetal Orange.
I caught up with Xenia Randle for some more info.
How long have you been playing uke and how did you get into it?
I have been playing Ukulele since October 2007. I got one because I wanted to start playing something and the Ukulele seemed so much easier to carry around than a guitar. I could take it out to the park with me and not feel like I was on show. Guitars seem to make such an exhibitionistic statement, but the Ukulele is so small, so humble and doesn’t seem to hold the same ostentation. I didn’t know any Ukulele players or music at the time and thus I guess there was nothing to compare myself to, which gave me a lot of freedom being a beginner to playing music. It wasn’t until my second gig (at Ukelear Meltdown 2008) that I realised just how big the Ukulele was! Since I got my first Uke (an Ashbury concert), I have never looked back!
I have to ask about the name. Cat Green Bike?
I just thought of three of my favourite things and then swapped them around until they sounded nice. Favourite animal, favourite colour, favourite mode of transport.
Your sound is very different from most ukulele acts. Who are your inspirations?
I only started hearing Ukulele acts since Ukelear Meltdown, so I can’t really place any Ukulelists as my inspirations (except Jake), though I was recently introduced to Beirut’s music and I think he is wonderful. His sound completely captivates me. I’ve been lucky enough to spend most of my time around many excellent musicians with diverse musical tastes over the last seven-ish years, so all of that has seeped in I guess. As far as my favourite bands go, I’d have to say; The Mars Volta, Joanna Newsom, Sufjan Stevens, Jeff Buckley, Clutch, and lots of jazz. There isn’t really any genre I’d dismiss. I just like anything that intrigues me, or gets my head rocking uncontrollably!
Jake Shimabukuro is listed as your top friend on MySpace. He’s not someone I’d immediately associate with the music you make. What do you get from his music?
The Christmas after I started playing Uke, a relative showed me Jake’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” on YouTube. I was astounded by his playing. He is my Ukulele hero, no doubt about it. If I could ever play half as proficiently as him I would die a very happy woman. It’s the technical dexterity that I admire. The more technical tools you have to your belt, the more techniques you have at your disposal. Having said that; you can be as technically brilliant as you like, but if there’s no soul coming through, it’s dull as s**t.
Is it right that you’ve contributed to Rose Turtle Ertler’s ukulele cookbook? What are your top cookery tips?
Indeed I did! My failsafe banana cake. Cookery tips? Hmmm… The only way I ever make anything worth eating is when I am cooking for other people. If I’m cooking just for myself, whatever it is always seems to end up as an ugly tasteless mess at which even a dog would turn up its nose.
What can we expect to hear from you in the future?
I have no idea.