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Byron Shire
February 27, 2021

Wiley ways of the cat in the Hat

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Hat Fitz & Cara have recently finished recording their new album, Wiley Ways, engineered and produced by the highly regarded Jeff Lang. Lang was impressed with the husband-and-wife duo, declaring ‘Hat Fitz and Cara make beautiful, raw, exciting music that never fails to grab me’.

Their material is original yet crosses the boundaries as if written from a time once forgotten. They will be launching their album at the Byron Brewery on Friday from 8pm. They will also be appearing at the Mullum Music Festival later this year. Cara Robinson spoke to Mandy Nolan about her work with Fitzy.

Your new album Wiley Ways was engineered and produced by Jeff Lang… what did he bring to your work? It was a first-time experience for both of us to be walking into a studio feeling completely secure that our songs and recording were in the safest of hands, so all we needed to focus on was putting the real attention on just playing our best and capturing the moment. He also brought to the table that we should record a whole album of originals.

What is it that you set out to achieve in recording your latest album? An album of good-quality material that portrays our old-time flavour that can hopefully stand the test of time.

What do you think sets you apart as a duo – is it the beard, the folk… ? We’re quite different in our characters, firstly, and also what comes across in our live show where there’s an immediate realisation from the crowd is that we get on like a married couple – and it’s no act, let me tell you. Our music is honed together over the last three years and has got its own sound that we feel is more on an original path now we live and breathe and eat together. We tend to have very few days out of the year that are not part of a musical collaboration.

Why do you think there has been such a resurgence in the love and affinity with ‘old-timey’ music?

The world is moving so much faster now into the future along with our music and there is always a need to remember the simplicity of stripping back the sound and having that old-time raw flavour that helps us to reminisce and slow down. With production these days old-time music cannot be overproduced, otherwise it loses its whole essence. Guess the art of story telling is making a comeback and singing about teenage heartache is taking more of a back seat!

How do you two go about crafting a song? There’re a few ways really. Fitzy will come up with a riff on the banjo and it will spark off an idea or something that I’ve already been working on. Or I’ll have a simple idea on the guitar and he will come along and bring it to life. Always gotta be a story behind it though, which generally comes from life on the road or our past experiences.

How did you two find each other? Across the other side of the world, but really Fitzy was not meant to be there as his tour was meant to be cancelled. Then this festival came up at the last minute and just from seeing each other live we were pretty much smitten with each other.

What was it in your styles, which at times seem so different, that clicked? It may be the way we let each other off the leash musically and respect each other’s creative ideas. Of course there is the odd tiff here and there.

What would you change in the other if you could? I would change my husband’s foot so he could run. He says he would change nothing.

What should we expect for your Byron Show? Tracks off the new album Wiley Ways and lots of smiling faces!

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