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Baker's Dozen

Playing For Keeps: Cate Le Bon's Favourite Albums
John Freeman , September 4th, 2014 11:33

With her UK tour just started, singer-songwriter Cate Le Bon tells John Freeman about how an attitude of playfulness runs through her 13 top LPs

Cate Le Bon has a bad back. Nine months of sitting in tour vans while gigging last year's wonderful third album, Mug Museum, over various continents has taken a spinal toll. When I suggest to her that she gets a comfier seat or a better van, Cate tells me that her tour manager isn't of the same view. Tour managers can be cruel like that.

And so it is through the shroud of a co-codamol fog that Cate receives a request from the Quietus for her 13 favourite albums. And if such an ask might seem like light relief from the relentless scream of back pain, Cate isn't so sure. "This was one of the hardest things I have ever been asked to do for an interview," she reveals – a familiar response when asking musicians to effectively choose 13 of their favourite children.

But, as might be expected from an artist who has released three fine albums ('Duke', from last year's Mug Museum has just been released as a single; watch the video here) fusing elements of dark folk, jagged indie rock and her quirky take on pop, Cate's list is diverse, hugely engaging and seems partly informed by her move to Los Angeles early in 2013. The move necessitated the rekindling of her record collection, a task she embraced by browsing through L.A.'s vast network of independent record shops and the odd flea market.

Le Bon's list features a couple of time-honoured classics (by Bowie and Television), treasured albums by Big Star, Faust, Cluster's Hans-Joachim Roedelius and also her long-time friend and collaborator, Gruff Rhys. A couple of Cate's choices had your scribe scrambling to Google for help on any information about Turkish singer Selda and also the splendidly-named Fille Qui Mousse, which Cate reliably informs me translates as 'Girl Foam'.

As our interview winds down, I ask Cate if she thinks there is a theme that connects the choices she has made. "I was thinking about this before," she says. "I think a lot of this is about each album having a certain playfulness really, in a weird way. It's about an attitude more than anything else, if that makes sense."

Cate Le Bon began her UK tour last night, which continues with a set at Bestival tomorrow, before moving on:

Tue 9 - O2 Academy 2, Oxford
Wed 10 - Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth
Thu 11 - Koko, London
Fri 12 - Gorilla, Manchester
Sat 13 - The Sage, Gateshead
Sun 14 - The Lemon Tree, Aberdeen
Mon 16 - Electric Circus, Edinburgh
Tue 17 - The Duchess, York
Wed 18 - Plug, Sheffield
Mon 22 - Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff

Head to her Facebook for full details. Click on her image below to begin scrolling through Cate's choices