HOT VOX POP QUIZ WITH TOP CAT COLLECTIVE
Who are Top Cat Collective? Where you’re from, how you met, how long have you been playing together etc?
Ben: The band originally started with Olly (guitarist) and Conor (drummer) from Kent.
Harriet (singer): who have known each other since they were …?
Harriet: and have played in bands together since they were…?
Conor: Year 6? ...we played Seven Nation Army, haha
Del (Keys): I joined the band 3rd, that’s very important. Ben (Bass) and Chris (singer), were friends from uni who we drafted in and then Harriet joined us on vocals for the debut EP and we just had to keep her!
Olly: I’ve also known Ben since I was 4 as he lived on the road down from me.
Harriet: But as the 6 piece that we are now, we've been together for nearly 3 years.
Who came up with the band name and does it have a story or any meaning behind it?
Conor: It was me! George Clinton had a pet pig called Officer Dibbles (a character in the Top Cat cartoon) and it just rolled out from there.
If you had to describe the band using just five words, what would they be?
Ben: Groove obsessed, funky, fun music.
Who are your biggest influences musically?
Ben: D’Angelo is a major influence and the rest of the Soulquarian movement. Bilal, Erykah Badu, Common etc. Also hip hop in general but J Dilla is probably the biggest part of that, for me personally.
Del: I’m hugely into jazz as well, I listen to a lot of McCoy Tyner, Alfa Mist and really into broken beat, too. I guess we are all avid music fans so we listen to massive range of music but i guess hip-hop and neo-soul are the biggest influences on our sound though.
Conor: And obviously the soul and funk greats like James Brown, Sly, Stevie, Parliament/Funkadelic the list could go on forever.
Olly: For me it’s the Ohio Players, MF Doom, The Meters, Daru Jones, and Chris Dave.
What’s the band's biggest claim to fame so far?
Harriet: Well we were on BBC News last summer. We played at Leefest and they did a section on us with some of our set and an interview.
Ben: A real bizarre and surreal experience, especially watching it back later.
What’s your songwriting process?
Olly: Usually I’ll bring in a chord progression or groove idea as a basis for us to jam on and then we expand it from there. We groove on it for ages until everyone feels comfortable with their own part. On the last record Del brought some wicked progressions in too that we developed into full tunes.
Conor: We will jam ideas for ages until it becomes obvious where we have got to take it next and then define that change in the best way possible.
Chris: It’s the same for me with the vocals - while they're cycling a section I’ll try some melodies and fragments of lyrics.
Harriet: I’ll get a melody that works for me and the lyrics evolve afterwards once I’m happy with that.
If you could go on tour with any current band or artist, who would it be and why?
Ben: Anderson Paak would be awesome or maybe Hiatus Kaiyote.
Del: I’d love to tour with Black Milk - his new album is dope - but agree with Ben that AP would be sick. Compositionally he’s so on point, and the way he plays pockets and sings like that is killing.
Olly: It’s gotta be D’Angelo, surely?
If you could put your dream team band together consisting of any musicians from the past or present who would the band members be?
Del: George Duke
Olly: D’Angelo/Daru Jones - we need a drummer!
Con: Jimi Hendrix
Ben: Pino Palladino
Harriet: Yukimi Nagano
Chris: Otis Redding
You pick what instruments they’re on...
How would you describe your live show to someone who has never seen you perform before?
Olly: High energy yet laid back and funky. Harriet and Chris do an amazing job of engaging with the audience and we just give them the platform to work off.
Do any of you have any pre-gig or post gig rituals? If so, what and why?
Conor: Nothing too specific. Chris doesn’t eat before a gig.
Chris: Yeah, I can’t be dealing with that. Go light and plenty of water.
Ben: And coffee mate! You love a cup of Joe!
What would your ultimate rider be if you could have anything without being accused of being a diva?
Chris: As mentioned, coffee. Haha!
Ben: They said you could have anything?!
Chris: Special stuff then, from that fella Will at Pact coffee who ships it in from Guatemala. He knows his beans!
Ben: Maybe some green stuff, beers…
Harriet: Lemon + ginger tea!
Del: Pecan pie…
This question is for all band members. If we were to browse your music library what is the most embarrassing song we might find? Or who is your guilty pleasure artist?
Conor: Well most of us teach music so there are probably some rather dire tunes on there that I have had to download to teach a student…or at least that’s the excuse i’m using haha!
Ben: So that’s how you are explaining away the entire Lighthouse Family back catalog, clever. My guilty pleasure is probably Simply Red’s ‘If You Don’t Know Me By Now’ got obsessed with that tune for a little while, just love those harmonies. Not too bad on the scale of things.
Del: I’m slyly into Drake. Sorry...
Tell us one thing your fans would be really shocked or surprised to hear or learn about the band
Ben: How about that only one of us is 30 haha! Not sure if anyone else has got some secrets?
Del: Ben used to front a six-piece folk band, which I guess is pretty cool. Although less said about the ponytail the better...
If people want to check you out online where is the best place to go?
Del: We are on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. @topcatcollectiveofficial on Instagram, @topcatco on Twitter, and just search our name on FB. Or ask Cambridge Analytica.
Harriet: And our music is on all platforms (iTunes, Spotify, Amazon etc.) + Bandcamp https://topcatcollective.bandcamp.com/
Finally, What does the future hold for the band?
Olly: We will get writing again over the summer between gigs and hopefully have some ideas for recording early next year. We have some killer shows coming up! In the immediate future we are about to release a remix of a tune from our last record featuring MCs Lemzi and Braceman. Keep your eyes peeled!