WITH an increasingly busy diary and growing profile, you probably wouldn’t pick former Perth musician Catherine Traicos as someone who has had to overcome a personal struggle with stage fright.
The 32-year-old Sydney-based alt-folk/country singer-songwriter – who is enjoying a hometown summer stint to catch up with family in Mandurah and work on new musical project The Unnatural Congress of Still Beating Hearts with acclaimed bass-clarinettist Philip Everall – became enamoured by the guitar via a friend while studying arts at UWA.
Plagued by anxiety, however, she didn’t stroke the strings for quite some time, and didn’t perform on stage until many years later.
“I had such bad stage fright (but had) a realisation that anxiety is there for a reason; you just don’t let it get out of control,” she said.
“It’s still a bit of a struggle to get on stage, but I always just remember that I appreciate it when artists perform for me, so I (get out there) because I know people like what I do.”
Although she learnt piano as a child in her native Zimbabwe (her test cricketer dad moved the family to Perth when Traicos was 18), she went on to first pursue visual art, before branching out into music. She still paints and is holding an exhibition of her nature-inspired expressionist abstract works next month in Sydney, where she has lived since 2004.
Perth, however, remains her spiritual home, with the WA capital allowing Traicos to embrace her creative spirit.
“I was in a very strict school environment in Zimbabwe where you were told you were stupid if you did art,” she said.
“I was pretty much looked down up on by my peers.”
Of course, the life of an artist and musician usually entails a mixed bag of day jobs to pay the bills. Traicos has had several, the worst being a call centre operator and the best, fronting a friend’s annual doughnut stall at the Perth Royal Show.
She now works as a casual cosmetic counter assistant.
“I love the (random) jobs that musicians get. I’m not sure what the exact title is, but a friend’s job involves watching the horse races and writing down who wins…hilarious!”
Catherine Traicos supports Beth Orton at the Quarry Amphitheatre, City Beach, on January 26.