Cat Leahy is a woman with many projects on her plate! She runs The Booking Stable – a boutique Music Agency based in Melbourne which she launched in 2009, providing a range of booking and management services such as gig and festival bookings, tour planning, industry advice. Besides from that, Cat also has nearly 20 years of experience as a practicing musician, currently sharing her drumming skills with a number of Australian acts such as Sal Kimber & The Rollin’ Wheel and This Way North. We caught Cat on a week overseas in Toronto, Canada. Read on to see what it entitled!
I do several things in the arts industry, I guess first and foremost I’m a drummer and a musician, but I also run a booking agency and a management company called The Booking Stable, so those things take up most of my time. The drummer side of things is kind of split between playing for a band called Sal Kimber & The Rollin’ Wheel which I’ve done for about 9 years now and my own project This Way North, a drums and guitar duo that’s currently my main musical focus that we’ve taken full-time this year which is really fun. Aside from that, I do session drumming from time to time for different people, like playing on their records or small tours here and there, that kind of thing.
The last week’s been a pretty unique one as I’m in Toronto at the moment, starting a tour with This Way North as well as recording. In between that, I’m trying to fit in all my Booking Stable work as well. So I try starting my day in a healthy way, doing my stretching and exercising, I find that I can’t really continue my day without having covered those bases first. It makes me able to sit in front of the computer for long periods of time or whatever is needed from me.
Monday I started off my week with Booking Stable work, first thing in the morning I try to break down the emails and see what’s been priority and this day there was a bunch of festival applications due so I went through the database to make sure they were all up to date. Then had a strategy meeting with a guy we work with for This Way North, we chat with him on a regular basis to see where we’re up to business wise, he kind of works as an accountability person for us so we can chat to him to make sure we’re all up to phase. We also started doing pre-production with the producer for the This Way North recording, which took up a good couple of hours.
Tuesday we had a nice meeting with This Way North’s publicist, it was really great to check in with her because we could have a debrief of the last 5 months and how things went and set up plans for where to go next when we get back from Canada. Then worked on more pre-production for the record and I tried to fit in some emails during the day to get back on track with the Booking Stable.
Wednesday was kind of the same start with early morning emails then pre-production work at the producer’s place as we had some sound issues in the studio we were in the day before.
Thursday included an early morning exercise regime, emails, and pre-production. After that, we went to see a friend of ours that runs a bar in Toronto called Wenona. We were just going to head to their Speakeasy night that they run and last minute their door person fell through so my band mate and I ended up helping out and doing the door that night. I always find that even when I do have a night off it’s always nice to actually do something at a venue, I can almost feel a bit lost if I’m just standing watching a show.
Friday we ended up doing even more pre-production, which was kind of just an extra added day of that. From there we went and played a show at the Dakota Southern in Toronto, so we rocked up to soundcheck at about 4pm and got everything sounding nice and tidy. It was an early show 7-9 which was nice after having a big and busy week, it was also Canada day Eve that night so it was a big one. We ended up catching up with a bunch of other local musicians and had a really nice dinner and then went back to the venue we’d played at and watched another band play, getting to see some local talent was really cool.
It was a very packed week filled with music, which isn’t always the case. Often a more normal week for me is Monday to Thursday solidly sitting in front of the computer doing booking and management. I’ve got a band coming from Canada in October-November so at the moment I’m booking their shows and also doing the visa process which is a pretty argues task, there’s a whole heap of different criteria we have to make sure we meet to get everything over the line. That’s a little bit stressful, it’s long haul work booking a tour for 3 international acts and you kind of have to start a year in advance. So I’ve been working on this process and most of the shows are booked, but the visa process always gets to the last minute which is stressful, definitely losing a bit of sleep over that.
This week it’s definitely been playing music. For me as a musician, recording is one of my favorite things, I know a lot of people find it stressful or don’t entirely love it but I love the process and the challenge. I love being creative in the studio and just being a part of the direction things are going in the moment, it’s really exciting. You have to really trust yourself in the studio, and I just really love that process.
On Saturday my band mate pulled her neck and her shoulder, that was a challenging day because it meant me having to go pick up all of our gear from the venue by myself. It was fine but there was a lot of stairs and stairs in Toronto are a bit narrow…
Words of Wisdom
I think with booking, it can be a pretty thankless task, you can spend a lot of hours sending emails and often not getting anything back. I think speaking on the phone to people will always and forever be a way better way of communicating than sending emails. I think it’s easy to over the years, become lazy and complacent about sending emails when you’re not getting anything back. Having a phone, doing your research and finding out who are the people to talk to are and just speaking to them, nothing really beats that.
As a musician the best words of wisdom I can think of is to just to be as flexible you can because you never know what’s going to happen one day to the next, or what kind of gigs you’re going to be playing. There’s going to be shit gigs and there’s going to be amazing gigs. Don’t let the shit gigs get you down, it’s just part of it. There’s beauty in the shit gigs because if everything was great all the time it would be easy to take it for granted, it’s a neverending struggle for constant improvement.
They say you don’t reach your musical peak until you’re in your 80’s and I find that really comforting because if I’m not exactly where I want to be right now it’s ok because I will keep learning and I will keep growing. It annoys me when people say they quit music because they didn’t get to where they wanted, you can’t always be in control, all you can do is enjoy what you’re doing and creating. You’re creating something from nothing and that’s a beautiful thing.
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