Interview: Catherine Traicos – run for your life

Catherine Traicos is a critically acclaimed singer-songwriter hailing from sunny Perth, Western Australia (sort of). Born in Zimbabwe, she has been known to haunt the cobble-stoned backstreets of Melbourne and the postcard-city-sunsets of Sydney.

Hey Catherine Traicos, super nice to have the chance to chat with you. What first got you into music?

Hello, thank you for chatting with me. I grew up with a lot of music around me. I learned piano as a child and my mum was always playing Motown and the Beatles and music that I fell in love with. Also a lot of classical. When I moved to Australia I saw people just picking up instruments and writing songs and I thought, ‘that looks like fun,’ so I did it too, asking friends to teach me guitar.

Describe your favorite and least favorite part about being a musician.

My favourite part is that point where a song clicks and stops being a sketch or an idea and becomes an actual composition that feels right. Also, working with amazing musicians, which I have been lucky enough to do.

The worst part is trying to get people to come to gigs. The pressure from venues. The self-promotion. It’s awful and so different from the good parts about being a musician.

Your latest song is ‘run for your life’. Can you share with us the background of its creation and did any unusual things happen during its creation?

I wrote it late at night when I was extremely tired and probably should have been asleep. The thing about being a musician is you often need a day job, and even when that day job coincides with your vocation (I was teaching music), it’s not always fulfilling. So I was writing most nights at that time. Recording it with Woody (Tiny Music) was a lot of fun and we did it in a day and then added in cello from Melbourne played by Gareth Skinner. 

Where are you from and do you have a stable home or do you prefer traveling?

I currently live in Perth and due to the pandemic, the borders of the state of Western Australia have pretty much been closed for the past few years. It was amazing to get to go to Nashville once they opened and do some recording. I don’t believe I am going to stay here much longer. I like living in different places for a short time rather than constantly travelling – getting to know the place and the people and then moving on.

How would you describe the music that you typically create?

My standard response to this question is: ‘sort of folky bluesy stuff that favours the minor keys’. I noticed a couple of songwriter friends listening when I said this to someone at a party once and I know they wanted to hear because it is the most difficult question to answer if you don’t strictly limit your writing to one or two genres.

Can you write what was the best performance in your career? How do you remember it?

I played the Bluebird Café in Nashville a few years back and that was fantastic. I had been recovering from a really bad cold and I was scared my voice would shake or crack and it was fine, good even. And there was such a great atmosphere in that place. I loved it.

If you could go open a show for any artist who would it be?

Alive – Angel Olsen. Dead – Leonard Cohen.

Who’s your ideal musician to collaborate with and why?

I’m really happy to have worked with the musicians I’ve been lucky enough to meet on this journey so far. I would choose them: Darren Nuttall on guitar, Cec Condon on drums, Sam Worrad on bass and Gareth Skinner on Cello. We work well together. We get each other. It’s rare and I have missed it being away from them these few years. 

What are your plans for the future?

Announcing your plans is always tricky. I’ll probably keep making music in some fashion, though.

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