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INTERVIEW: Cats Eyes On Gatecrashing Palace
Christian Eede , April 6th, 2016 13:38

Cat's Eyes in stunt at the Royal palace; read their account of events below

Cat's Eyes, the duo of Rachel Zeffira and Faris Badwan, recently managed to blag their way into Buckingham Palace to talk at an event. However, they went one step further and used the event as an opportunity to play attended guests some music - without permission from the palace.

Disguised as a renaissance music group, the pair's stunt was caught on camera in the above video. It sees them perform an alternaitve version of 'We'll Be Waiting' from their new album, Treasure House.

It all goes down slightly better than the pair were expecting having not been invited to play music at the event itself and not gained permission to do so. It follows on from a similar stunt at the Vatican in 2011 when they performed their first ever gig with a choir in front of a number of unwitting cardinals. We had a brief catch-up with the pair to find out more about the events at Buckingham Palace below.

Where did the idea to do this come from?

Rachel Zeffira: For the last 5 years, almost every time Cat’s Eyes has been interviewed, the journalist has brought up our Vatican performance and asked where we’ll go next. A few have actually said “You’d have to go to Buckingham Palace to top that”. When they brought it up, it felt like a challenge. However, I knew we couldn’t scale the walls and I also knew, like the Vatican, we had zero chance of getting in as a band who want to play one of their songs. It was clear that an invitation or special permission would be the only way to perform one of our pieces anywhere at Buckingham Palace.

How did you plot it and get the invite? Did you spot the event and wangle your way in?

RZ: Years later an event organiser who knew that I was a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts asked me if I knew of any charismatic art historians who could speak at a post-dinner art talk for an important visiting guest. It would be at Buckingham Palace. Here was our chance: of course I knew an art historian who would be just perfect.

I decided there would be a painting in the collection that could be linked to music somehow, and could then be made part of the talk. We would arrange one of our songs so that it would sound vaguely baroque or renaissance.

Faris Badwan: There were quite a few obstacles and challenges. I guess the biggest one was that the art historian couldn’t get permission to use music in his talk. We would have to do it without permission. We didn't yet know how we could get any instruments in.

There were other obstacles such as how we'd be able to film, how to get the instruments through security, how we could take them out and start playing as quickly as possible, how we could get extra people on such a small, private guestlist. The whole thing was a lot harder to arrange than the Vatican performance.

How did the performance go? Did you get feedback?

RZ: We played our rearranged version of 'We'll Be Waiting' and received warm applause, got a few compliments from the guest of honour, then got out of there. Initially we also got positive feedback from the event organiser. They were happy and said the guests enjoyed the art talk and music. But then they started to receive emails from the royal household that said they'd never given permission to us.

FB: And repeated calls, voicemails.

Were you afraid of royal retribution?

RZ: Sort of, but then I remember that a little recorder never hurt anybody. I think I might have lost my chance for a damehood though.