Gypsy And The Cat

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Xavier Bacash and Lionel Towers have just ignited a salivating frenzy of hype and media interest not seen since Empire Of The Sun blew worlds apart with their catalyst debut album in 2008. After listening to Gypsy And The Cat’s electropop premiere composition ‘Gilgamesh’ it’s not hard to understand why comparisons abound. Putting aside the glam and fantasia (“we wear normal clothes – we want to create a world that everyone’s familiar with” declares Xavier), the two bands have many similarities ranging from sound to content. “We’re into fairytales and fantasy,” Xavier continues. “That whole Roald Dahl / JR Tolkien thing. It doesn’t necessarily seep into our lyrics – we talk about real life experiences, but you can, maybe, hear similarities in the soundscapes.”

Gypsy And The Cat is a tale of two Melbourne DJs who have an established musical background. Lionel (the drummer) and Xavier (a classically trained pianist) despite going to the same school, didn’t meet until years later at a vintage antique market when Xavier discovered ‘Gypsy the Cat’ – a scruffy old copy of children’s bedtime stories. And so Gypsy And The Cat began when he convinced Lionel to play together in their garage. It wasn’t long before they moved out of the house and onto the stage.

Performing at Splendour In The Grass and Parklife, as well as touring as support act for The Strokes and Foals has given the now London-based duo both national exposure and the opportunity to develop their live performance skills.

“Playing with Foals gave us a lot of inspiration,” tells Xavier. “Yannis (Foals frontman) has so much energy. At every concert he would climb the speaker stack with his guitar and jump off. It was always high up, but in Melbourne it was quite a few metres above the ground. We didn’t think he’d do it. Yannis was playing then just leapt up and disappeared. We were shocked because we couldn’t see him and thought he must be badly injured but then he miraculously came back into view and kept playing as though nothing had happened.”

While Xavier isn’t about to add base-jumping to Gypsy’s repertoire, he does acknowledge that keeping his own feet on the ground is a vital element to achieving success. Playing with bands like Foals clearly have influenced his craft.

“We’re taking it one step at a time. We’ve always been aware of how we sound live and we’re always tightening and improving our sound.”

Humility is a trait Xavier exhibits over the course of the interview, maintaining a calm, somewhat reserved persona until that is, the subject turns to politics.

“I’m not at all happy with our Prime Minister,” he announces without reservation. “Forget about music and what the government does for the industry. I mean just in general. Julia Gillard hasn’t helped. I think a lot of people are unhappy and I don’t mind saying I voted Liberal.” While it remains to be seen if Gillard’s National Broadband Network will allow listeners to download ‘Gilgamesh’ faster than they otherwise would, it is nonetheless a formidable first album and one that is deserved of its ever-growing reputation.

However difficult the aforementioned comparisons with Empire Of The Sun will be to shake, Xavier is appreciative for the groundbreaking work they did. “There’s no doubt that overseas, especially in the UK, Empire shifted the focus back to Australian music and re-paved the way. They’ve definitely made it easier for us,” he adds gratefully.

Now, if he and Lionel can continue the impetus they’ve created locally and take it overseas, then Gypsy may soon have an empire of their own. And one that could genuinely start with the fairytale beginning ‘Once upon a time’…

‘Gilgamesh’ is out through Sony Music.
Gypsy & The Cat tour as part of the Big Day Out from January 21st to February 6th. For more BDO info visit www.bigdayout.com