Interview: Oystercatcher

Oystercatcher is a music collective based in Manchester. At its core are vocals and bass duo Caitlin Laing and Tom Chapman, but their philosophy is to make each live performance unique by constantly varying line-ups and arrangements.

They use their freedom as arrangers to explore different sound-worlds in the studio, braving unorthodox techniques to create recordings that have a separate identity to their live performances.

Oystercatcher make their Birmingham debut on Sunday 24 November 2019 at Centrala, fresh from a tour of South Africa. Also on the bill are Brum songwriter and composer Rosie Tee and Eloise Fabbri.

Caitlin takes BrumNotes’ questions …

How did you and Tom come to form Oystercatcher?

We had played and performed together for years before starting Oystercatcher in a huge range of situations and groups, then one day we ended up doing a bass and vocals arrangement of one of our favourite tunes and we really enjoyed it. We started writing together, booked a few gigs and everything went from there.

How would you describe your sound?

At its core we’re a vocals and bass duo, but our philosophy is to make each live performance unique by constantly varying line-ups and arrangements. With a strong emphasis on songwriting as a duo this is always at the heart of our music but is continually recontextualised by the different line-ups that we use, ranging from just bass and vocals to a full orchestra. Some of our key influences include Moses Sumney, James Blake and Kate Bush.

What are the challenges of playing with a fluid line-up, as a performer?

It’s a lot of extra work constantly re-arranging our songs but the result is worth it. It means that we can make each gig unique to the personalities of the musicians that are joining us and it keeps the songs fresh both for us and for the crowd.

What will be the line-up for your Birmingham show?

As well as vocals and bass we have with us a keys player, a trumpet player and a drummer.

You recently played a few dates in South Africa – how did they come about?

We met a musician who works over there, she invited us over and from there we managed to get in touch with some people and put together a tour.

And what were some of the highlights?

It’s a beautiful country so just travelling to do all the different gigs themselves was amazing, and we met so many lovely people along the way who helped us out loads. Also, the wildlife out there is insane, we even got to meet some penguins!

Can you tell us a bit about the track Dear Katie?

This tune came about after a conversation with a friend who spoke about the idea of giving depression a character/ name and speaking to them, as a way of coping with mental health problems. Katie is the name I chose and this is a letter to her.

What are your plans for the coming months? Any other releases planned

We’ve got a UK tour through November and we have two more releases coming up to complete our EP: Come Home will be out in late November, and It Never Rains will follow in December.

Sunday 24 November 2019
Oystercatcher / Rosie Tee / Eloise Fabbri
Centrala, Unit 4 Minerva Works, 158 Fazeley Street, Birmingham B5 5RT
£6 (adv); £10 (door)


For more information at Oystercatcher, see:


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