Why Kitten are the Purr-fect mix

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If you’ve always wondered what a bit of electro-swing sounds like, then look no further than the intriguingly named Kitten and the Hip, who take to the stage this weekend as part of the City of Derry Jazz Festival.

Ashley Slater – the ‘Hip’ in Kitten and..., by the way - is a talented trombonist and leader of the 80’s collective The Loose Tubes. Later in the 90’s Slater formed the other half of Freak Power with Norman Cook, pre-Fatboy Slim. Throw in talented female vocalist Scarlett Quinn, a laptop, and a brass section and there you have it, one of the most upbeat and exciting acts to play the festival this year.

The band have only been together for a year, and take a fresh approach to the music, producing all their own material and lending a new ear to swing. “I’d say that about half of the set falls easily into the electro-swing bracket, and the rest is more pop music really, with a bit of brass mixed in with drum and bass and reggae,” explains Slater.

“We haven’t just taken a bite out of every part of the music flower for the sake of it though,” he stresses. “We aim to be entertaining and to appeal to many different tastes – sort of a ‘forget about your woes and have a good time’ idea.

“We perform all our own material and to be honest so far it’s been surprisingly very well received.”

And they’re not afraid to blow their own trumpet about it, so to speak. “For a start the singer is gorgeous and super sexy, which always helps, as well as being a brilliant vocalist,” Slater emphatically states.

“Then we have a sort of attractive guitarist, and a trombone-player that no one will want to see. No I’m only joking, I’m incredibly handsome myself, but Scarlett wins hands down in the looks stakes.

“We create a bit of a rowdy, party vibe, and we absolutely expect people to sing along - so they have been warned. I think that should go down well in Ireland if my memory serves me correctly - in my experience it’s the ideal place for our type of music.”

This is their first appearance at the festival, but having lived in Belfast while playing with Otis and the Elevators, Slater is really looking forward to playing before a Derry crowd. “We have done a few festivals so far, obviously we haven’t been going for very long, but we always seem to go down really well at those types of gigs,” he admits.

“Each night we’re featuring a local saxophone player as well, so there will be a bit of a local element to the act.

“They’re being thrown in at the deep end a bit, so we’ll be flying by the seat of our pants. But we have a backing track so people can be assured that even if someone keels over and dies on stage, it should still sound ok.

“I think people should just come along, and bring their tonsils as we will be expecting you to join in. I haven’t done a gig yet where I thought ‘Oh God that’s rubbish’ - so I’m pretty sure everyone will have a good time!”

Kitten and Hip will be playing at the Bound For Boston on Saturday night at 11pm, and Sandino’s on Sunday at 10pm. For more information on the City of Derry Jazz line-up go to www.cityofderryjazzfestival.com

The City of Derry Jazz Festival is just one of a series of exciting events taking place in the city over the coming months. In June the Olympic Torch Relay will arrive in Derry, while for music fans the Peace One Day Concert is a definite date in the diary for June 21. And in July a Special Clipper Festival will also be taking place, as the Derry-Londonderry pays a welcome homecoming visit to the city.