Laurie Black

One of Adelaide’s favourite Queen of alt-cabaret Laurie Black is coming back to the Fringe and she’s bringing with her a new show Space Cadette. She’s seeking to recruit new members to move to the moon so it’s time to jump on board her synthesiser-spaceship and go for a ride. Performing from March 5-17 and tickets are on sale and judging from last years award winning performances her shows are not to be missed.

This is Black’s third Adelaide Fringe and though having such a busy lead up before arriving to our city she was happy to answer some questions for us at Hi-Fi Way: The Pop Chronicles.

You’re coming back to the Adelaide Fringe after a successful run in 2018 as well as winning a Weekly Best Music Award AND Best Emerging Artist Adelaide Fringe 2018. Adelaide seems to be good to you. Do you have any great memories of that Fringe season?
I love Adelaide Fringe – it’s my favourite festival and time of year and am very glad I can keep coming back!  My funniest memory is actually when I won the Emerging Artist Award – I was at the awards ceremony having a drink with my friends, totally unaware that I was going to win this award… the next thing Courtney Act is onstage shouting “LAURIE BLACK, WHERE’S LAURIE BLACK?!”. It was quite a cold night at Fringe Club (outside) so I was wearing a few layers over the top of my ‘stage costume’ catsuit, so I’m running up to the stage whilst just stripping off layers of clothes throwing them on the floor behind me expecting my friends to pick them up for me as I go collect my award from Courtney Act… I’m not really a diva, but guess I am when I win awards 😉

You have a new show called Space Cadette. Can you tell us a bit about the show and what audiences can expect?
Space Cadette is my most narrative show to date, and I guess my first proper big attempt at a solo show (people generally will know me from playing in other people’s shows (Anya Anastasia) or hosting variety shows (Bad Luck Cabaret).  I challenged myself by writing most of the show whilst performing in and producing shows at the Edinburgh Fringe in August last year (crazy, I know) and by writing lots of music specifically for the show rather than drawing on my past material.  It’s all new, fresh, synth-y, spacey, but with the same old drawn on eyebrows and Laurie Black attitude!

How did you come up with the concept for Space Cadette?
I love the moon, so I wanted to write a show about it!  Simple as that.

Last year at the Adelaide Fringe you performed in several shows with different artists. Will you be performing in shows other than Space Cadette this year?
Yes quite a few!  I’m hosting some shows with the equally gorgeous and gruesome Gorelesque; one night at the Fringe Club; and doing spots at Cut-Throat Cabaret at Gluttony.  Plus, I’m sure there’ll be loads more once it’s all kicked off – look out for a black & white haired banshee!

Do you come from a musical family or did you grow up around music and the arts?
I grew up listening to a mix of Motown and Metallica from my sax-playing dad and guitar-wielding mum, so I guess you could say that!  My mum was in an all-girl rock band when I was 14 and I was their roadie (although I only carried leads, not actually heavy stuff like amps!) … I would watch them soundcheck but have to leave before the actual gig because of licensing laws…

At what moment did you realise “This is what I want to do!”.
I studied music at university in London but didn’t really know what I was going to do with it until I started seeing cabaret shows… I joined a burlesque class (Glitterbox Burlesque) and quickly realised that it wasn’t my thing – but they did a showcase and let me play piano and sing in it, and a few months later they had a panic when an MC stepped down last minute… everyone turned around and looked at me, and I had 20 minutes to write a script and host my first ever cabaret show – I love that kind of stress and pressure, that was a big sink or swim moment for me!

Do you remember your very first performance and how you felt after the show?
I played piano in loads of school concerts as a kid, and always remember being so nervous that my legs would shake, and I couldn’t press down on the sustain pedal properly!  These days I’ve definitely conquered my stage fright.

For someone so young it seems you’re almost a veteran on the Cabaret/Fringe circuit. Do you enjoy travelling around to different countries and cities all the time?
I absolutely adore moving around, seeing new places, meeting new performers and then being reunited with them again at different seasons in different venues in different parts of the planet at the most unexpected times… it makes the world feel less huge and scary.  Being on tour is my favourite, it feels gritty and glamorous at the same time: I enjoy the challenges of working out how to get to weird venues, choosing where I’m going to live and finding out how people in those places live rather than seeing the sugar-coated tourist view.  People ask where I’m based, and I don’t really have an answer anymore, which I love!  Nomad life forever!

Recently you released your third album KINK. It’s an eclectic mix of songs. I quite like the songs That’s My Kink and Pianosexual. What is your process and approach when writing songs? Do you take inspiration from your surroundings and experiences or is it more from ideas and thoughts?
Pianosexual is a very old song of mine that started life just as the chorus that I would play during soundchecks for fun, and eventually came to life as a love song to my piano (I’m sure every instrumentalist can agree)!

That’s My Kink was really the title track from the album for me, so needed to sum it all up and essentially became a list of things I find kinky (blindfolds and equal pay to name a few…)  Depending on if I’m intentionally trying to write a comedic song or not, I’d say it’s a mix of real life things versus concept but I enjoy mixing the two, and creating ambiguity – check out my song Leatherbound.

Looking forward say five or ten years, where would you like to be career wise? What would be your ultimate dream gig?
I’d like to be a billionaire who has gigs every night and has a million followers on Instagram.  Joking, I’d like to be as happy and in love with my job as I am now!  My ultimate dream gig is hosting in legendary cabaret variety show La Clique, but I just did that in December… soooooo… I’m gonna have to think of something new.  I love the idea of composing music in a circus show or hosting a cabaret show with a live band instead of backing tracks… or going on a music tour with bands and finding a way to bring cabaret into it too… so many possibilities and I’m up for them all – hire me!

Interview by Anastasia Lambis

Tickets, show dates and times to Laurie Black’s show Space Cadette are up on Fringe Tix.

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