Friday, 16 May 2014

Interview with Meow Meow

EXUBERANT, fun and unpredictable. Just three of the words to describe international singing sensation that is Meow Meow.
I speak to the Australian songstress, grande dame and tour de force of the cabaret world ahead of her forthcoming residency at the London Wonderground and she is getting “really excited”.
"I’m here and I’m giggling already," she laughs. "I'm doing a photoshoot at the Vaudeville theatre and have been doing jetes around the stage – well it would be rude not to!"
And far from wanting a rest and a bit of "me time" before she takes to the stage next week, she is positively bursting with energy and joire de vivre.
"I got off the plane on Saturday, dumped my bags in the hotel, put on a fabulous frock and went to a concert of the young Von Trap singers and sang a song with them which was lovely," she says.
It turns out she met the group who are descended from the Austrian Von Traps made famous by the film Sound Of Music, in Portland when they did an album with American group Pink Martini and now they are “old friends”.
"At their gig, I came out of the audience wearing a fabulous frock which I just happened to have on and I sang Hushaby Mountain with them. It was divine.
"I’m on pure adrenaline," she adds chuckling.
"It's exhuasting being a showgirl of gargantuan talent but you just have to keep going. That’s the trick!"
And that she does, rarely letting up as she chats away about her love of cabaret, crowd surfing, sparkles and songs.
In fact it’s hard not to be swept away by her joire de vivre – much like it is going to one of her concerts in which she will draw in the audience before blowing their minds with her hypnotic voice and amazing, theatrical performance.
She has been dazzling audiences around the world for more years than she says she cares to remember and has worked with anyone who's anyone.
Indeed her glittering roll call of collaborators includes Australian national treasure, Barry Humphries which she says was "incredibly special", Ricky Gervais, David Bowie and Pina Bausch which she describes as "life changing".
But for her latest show Feline Intimate which she is bringing for a three-week stint at the London Wonderground’s spiegeltent, she will be on her own save for her accompanying musicians.
It's a venue she says is her “natural habitat” and she can't wait to stun the crowd once more with her incredible brand of cabaret.
"I love all those spiegeltents,” she says. “It’s my natural habitat, lots of mirrors everywhere, dark, mysterious and magical. Feline Intimate demands a more intimate space so the spiegeltent is the perfect environment."
The show, her first at the Wonderground, will feature a wide range of her cabaret favourites as well as "sequins, schtick, sexiness and possibly the splits".
"I love the flexibility of cabaret and being able to take risks," she says. "Cabaret songs last through the decades but I especially love the early stuff from the inter war years. It's quite astoundingly erotic and avant garde.
"Society at that time was in such a state of extreme and trauma and experimentation and discovery. There were record players and the radio for the first time. It was such an amazing period with everything hurtling towards the abyss - we are still hurtling. There is a frenetic energy in those songs.
"I am also mad about 1950s and 60s music as those decades featured fabulous singer songwriters.
"But cabaret songs and music can be endlessly reinvented," she adds. "You can touch people's hearts and minds at the same time. There's also an excitement that anything could happen.
"This show will feature gorgeous torch songs, a lot of mayhem and divine musicians as well as some gorgeous frocks of course," she says warmly.
"I don't have favourites when it comes to songs because it depends where I am at a particular time, how I'm feeling and how the audience is but there will be Brecht/Weill's Suraabaya Johnny and Brel's Ne Me Quitte Pas which I've sung all my life.
"There will also be some Schubert, which I think of as the beginning of cabaret, Radiohead, Patty Griffith and some original songs. One of them will be something I've written with Pink Martini's Thomas Lauderdale called Hotel Amour which is a beautiful torch song.
“I might also take requests if forced.....” she muses. "But there will be a plenty of old favourites just because they are incredible and so beautiful."
And she says this concert is much more about the music rather than being tied to a particular story or issue, as has been the case with previous shows.
"There is always a bit of a narrative but this is much more a cabaret show with glorious songs ancient and modern," she says.
"It will be a good rollicking 70 minutes of high and low class entertainment full of all kinds of human emotions," she adds cheerfully.
"Expect passion, laughter, heartbreak, rebellion, loneliness, joy, love, loss, grief, excitement and danger - the tensions between words and music and what happens when they collide means anything could happen! It's terribly exciting.
"I might even do a bit of crowd surfing," she muses.
"I am a person of the theatre after all!"

Meow Meow in Feline Intimate is at London Wonderground from May 20 until June 8. Tickets cost £15.50. Visit or call 0844 545 8282

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