The Welsh rock maverick shares wisdom from life on the road—and a year of solitude.
In #adhoclifeadvice, we ask artists we love to answer questions from you, our readers. This time around, we decided to switch things up a bit, and got Welsh singer-songwriter and producer Cate Le Bon to respond to some burning queries from the AdHoc staff. Read on for her wisdom about surviving cuffing season, getting through difficult conversations, and going vegan—and don’t forget to check out her new collaborative EP with Bradford Cox, Myths 004, on Mexican Summer.
This article originally appeared in print in AdHoc 29.
As someone who’s toured and worked with a ton of different musicians, what’s your best advice when it comes to collaborating harmoniously?
Cate Le Bon: Surrender yourself. Don’t try and steer the ship. Hold hands. Be porous. A monologue isn’t the same as a dialogue.
I’m thinking about going vegan and completely eliminating animal products from my life. Any thoughts or opinions on this? Are you still vegan?
Stop thinking about it and do it. We are supposed to be a civilized breed. There is no longer any reason to cause such pain and suffering—it’s dark energy—and the world will eat itself alive if we don’t all make a change. Watch Simon Amstell’s Carnage for the push you need.
It’s cuffing season. All of my friends are in relationships, and I’m the only single one. What can I do to appreciate this time alone instead of dreading it?
It is not cuffing season. That is some made-up shite. Wanting to be in a relationship should come from finding someone you’d gladly compromise the exquisite chime of solitude [for]. Don’t let the tail wag the dog.
I want to travel to other countries, but I only know one language. Since you speak Welsh and English, do you have any recommendations for learning another language?
You’ll never learn a language if you believe there’s an easy way. I learned both as a child.
The internet is hurting my brain and makes me feel like life is just one never-ending crisis. How do you balance the need to stay plugged in for professional reasons with maintaining a sense of equilibrium?
Treat Instagram like a toilet: Post/expel the necessary and flush.
It can be hard for many women to assert themselves with others and ask for what they need, both in personal relationships and creative contexts. What’s your best advice for getting through a difficult conversation?
It’s a drag. I try not to shrink myself to adhere to the expectation that men need more air and that their comfort is greater than ours. It’s always met with friction, and you’ll likely be punished for the challenge in one way or another. Know that and do it anyway—otherwise, nothing will change. Do not only speak of what you don’t want, but speak firmly of what you do want.
I feel wholly incapable of writing music when I’m overwhelmed. You’ve been writing and releasing material consistently for 10 years now—how do you rise above feeling uninspired?
I walk away from it. Let the horse come to you.
When you took a year off to be alone, did you come to any important self-discoveries? Would you recommend extended isolation as a means of reevaluating your personal needs?
It worked for me. I was able to gain some true perspective on where my motives lay—and where I wanted them to. To allow yourself to annihilate your identity without being under a constant surveillance that inhibits—it gave me the room to sit and be genuinely grateful. That is a personal need I learned the gravity of: to feel and appreciate your footing amid the circus.