HEAV­ENS ABOVE

Harry James An­gus of The Cat Em­pire looked to some divine in­spi­ra­tion for his lat­est project, which he’s show­cas­ing at Mul­lum Mu­sic Fes­ti­val

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - PLAY - SALLY COATES Mul­lum Mu­sic Fes­ti­val, 16–19 November. Tick­ets from mul­lum­mu­sicfes­ti­val.com

We catch up with Harry James An­gus ahead of his per­for­mance at Mul­lum Mu­sic Fes­ti­val’s 10year an­niver­sary.

Tell me a lit­tle about your new project, Strug­gle With Glory.

Es­sen­tially it’s in­spired by gospel mu­sic, but all the songs are about Greek mythol­ogy. It’s kind of like gospel but the sto­ries are about Greek gods and Achilles and Odysseus. I’ve al­ways loved gospel mu­sic – it just sounds great. Be­ing a trum­pet player I’ve al­ways been in­ter­ested in early New Or­leans stuff. A lot of that early mu­sic was church hymns, call and re­sponse, har­monies.

So why the mix?

I love gospel mu­sic but I didn’t want to rip it off, for both black Amer­i­can cul­ture and re­li­gious rea­sons. It’s fun, but also dis­re­spect­ful to all kinds of races and re­li­gions. What I did is take some of the flavours, but not take it off com­pletely. It’s got to be about some­thing else, not Je­sus. I’d been read­ing a lot of Greek mythol­ogy at the time, and I’d al­ways been in­ter­ested. I thought, ‘this could work’.

It sounds quite niche, are you con­cerned at all about its re­cep­tion?

It is very strange sound­ing but mu­si­cally it fits in a lot of places. It’s kind of like jazz party mu­sic with beau­ti­ful har­monies. I sup­pose what I’ve been look­ing for re­cently is a way to do what I love do­ing – old time jazz, real old school – and I was look­ing for a uni­fy­ing con­cept that would turn that into a show I could per­form.

Are you still work­ing with The Cat Em­pire or fo­cus­ing on this project?

I’ve al­ways done a lot along­side it. Cat Em­pire has still got lots of tour­ing ahead of us, we’re al­ways do­ing stuff, and we’ve never stopped. I’ve been play­ing with Cat Em­pire 15 years or longer but I’ve al­ways had nu­mer­ous other projects, prob­a­bly none as well-known as Cat Em­pire.

But do you care about be­ing Harry from The Cat Em­pire or would you pre­fer to have your own sep­a­rate im­age?

Be­ing a per­former you can be­come ob­sessed with how other peo­ple are per­ceiv­ing you. It’s all about im­age. A con­tem­po­rary ex­am­ple would be Tay­lor Swift. She’ll come out with this new thing – new look, new sound, new char­ac­ter. I’m not into any of that stuff. I’m about mak­ing mu­sic and be­ing proud of what I’m putting out.

Harry James An­gus from The Cat Em­pire will per­form at the Mul­lum Fes­ti­val.

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