A massive thank you to Dexter Bentley for a fabulous interview and feature on his ‘Hello Goodbye’ weekly radio show on Resonance FM. This interview was first broadcast on 31st Oct 2020 –
Listen here 🙂
read the transcript below 🙂
HELLO GOODBYE RADIO SHOW TRANSCRIPT with Dexter Bentley (DB) AND Katy Carr (KC)
This programme is brought to you by resonance FM. If you like what you hear, please support our work by making a donation at Resonancefm.com/donate
Dexter Bentley (DB)
We also will be featuring lots and lots of new music but first up we’re going to now run a feature on Katy Carr her new LP Providence, which was out only yesterday and to my ear it’s her best LP to date. I caught up with her a few days ago. So joining me now on the zoom is Katy Carr
DB : Hello Katy.
Katy Carr (KC)
Hello, I’m so excited to be here with you today.
DB : Well, I mean, I was looking back, and the first time you were on the show was over 10 years ago is when you released Kommander’s Car in 2009.
KC : Is it that long!
DB : It is it is that long, you’ve got a new LP Providence. It’s been five years in the making what what took the time?
KC : Partly personal things because my mother passed away in the middle of that in 2018. And so I was going to be recording this record a bit earlier but due to the grief I’ve experienced from losing my mother I’ve been sent on a little bit of a journey with that. And actually, this album is a result of all the different avenues that I’ve had to like walk down. After that anybody who knows and who understands what it feels like to lose a parent, then I think they can compassionate towards that yes but I’ve had a lot of interesting topics to discover through death.
DB : So, in what way did that inform the album and the tracks on the album?
KC : Well, I think, when you lose a parent, you start to remember things that have happened to you, and you’re trying to make sense of the death, but also you’re trying to make sense of your life. And it’s unblocking, a lot of the memories that you’ve had before. With the parent, or with the situation. It’s, in a way, a cleansing act of cleansing, but it’s also extremely painful because the memories that you may have been trying to block or suppress come out during the grieving process. And also there’s a lamenting there and a grief that when you news, especially a mother, it’s something that is difficult to explain so I had to write this, to help me get through that process and look towards figures from history who were very strong, who could help me think about an internal strength and gain my confidence again.
DB : So, so which songs in particular?
KC : I’ve been really inspired by the Cavalry officer from Poland called Cavalry Officer Witold Pilecki – he was the first person to write a report on the atrocities of Auschwitz in 1943 when he completed his report. He had was a very, very strong military man in Poland and had fought in the Polish Bolshevik war in 1919 and in WWII 1939. When the Germans attacked Poland, on the first of September 1939 followed by the Soviets in 17th of September 1939 Witold Pilecki was then very much involved with the Polish Underground Resistance, this was the largest resistance movement in Europe, and was on a mission to try to dismantle what the Germans were doing on Polish soil and enslaving millions and millions of people. And he’s a great figure in history for Poland because he’s a true lover of the country, and represents an old Poland, that stood for dignity and loyalty. It’s just that when Poland being the only Allied nation to be slammed behind the Iron Curtain after the Second World War, Witold Pilecki was arrested by the NKVD, and was tortured for a year before a kangaroo trial, and then murdered in Warsaw, by the Soviet, then government of the country. So he is a wonderful example, to me, of somebody to look up to, as a role model. I just wish he was around right now because because I’m sure he would have some stories but my song ‘Hero to Zer’o is a reflection also intertwined with that story of just being a hero, although I’m sure we’re talking let’s see would never consider himself a hero. But to me, he is a hero but the idea that I intertwined it with George Orwell’s book 1984, and the scene where Winston is being tortured by O’Brien, and George Orwell says in the face of pain, there are no heroes. So that’s where the title hero to zero comes from.
DB : Are you equal parts historian and musician?
KC : Well I’ve had a really big interest in history. Ever since I started writing songs and I think that I take elements of history and bring them into the contemporary but I have a very strong interest in military history I think it’s to do with my DNA and the genes that I have. For instance, I have a great grandfather who was in the Boer War and was imprisoned with Churchill and escaped with Churchill and also fought in the First World War. He was a bit too old to fight in the Second World War, but he was the mace bearer in Loughborough for many many years he was called Harry Adcock so I feel like I have a lot of his energy inside of me now. And on my Polish side my Polish grandfather was imprisoned in Auschwitz he was prisoner 22661 so I feel like I’m the voice of the family that’s exploring all these different avenues and I don’t think there’s a coincidence for me. With regard to writing about military history I’ve also been an Air Cadet and I have a pilot licence. I had an interest in the Royal Air Force from a very young age and was very inspired by Spitfires Amelia Earhart, Amy Johnson were my role models when I was growing up, and to the 303 squadron the Polish Air Force aces of the Battle of Britain. And so for me it’s a huge interest it’s an unusual interest I would say for for a female, maybe to take on. But I have huge military figures in my family, and it’s hard to ignore them, and very, very proud of my history,
DB : Not, not only do you have Polish DNA but you you spent your formative years in Poland…
Yes, I spent between until I was five years old in Polish and I came to England. That was during communism in Poland, so it was a very difficult time and I experienced what it felt like for the people to be during the Iron Curtain in that particular time of the 1980s. And it wasn’t a pretty time, it was very very difficult time so I’m very lucky to have been given the opportunity to live in Britain, and obviously because of my British bloods, I’m very, very proud to be able to say that I’m educated here and that I had a distance, and I wasn’t brought up in the Iron Curtain because it was a very very difficult time and people in the West don’t really understand what it was like to live there – there was starvation there were terrible things happening -tortures, murders by the communist state for many many millions of people. And everyone lived in terrible fear of a totalitarian communist regime so I’m very proud to be able to live and have the cultural reference points of being British and also having the opportunity to have access to the British music scene, which to me is was a lifesaver. In many ways,
on the LP, my other favourite track and I played it on last week’s show, and I’m going to play it again now Boadicea you’re talking here about the influence of Britain, well what what can you tell us about this song?
Well I’ve lived with Boadicea, all the way through my life because the first place where my parents lived in the Midlands was very near the, the old Fosse Wat, the Roman road and Boadicea had created the whole network of roads across Britain. It was only the Romans really that re etched her architecture. And she was a huge inspiration for me as a young person because in the Midlands there’s many, many examples of her influence still and across the whole of England. And, of course, you know, knowing about her defeat at Battle Bridge in AD 61 , she still remains one of the biggest British folk heroes and we have an incredible monument to her. That was commissioned by Queen Victoria on the Thames embankment right opposite the Houses of Parliament. So it was kind of like two fingers up to the Roman Empire really when they put that there. She is victorious. And I think Queen Victoria seesaw has a bit of a namesake you know that she was a victorious figure and needed to be remembered that this song. Yes, she was enraged after the Romans raped her daughters. She was very very enraged and that’s what created this whole revolt against Roman Empire 80,000 Britons, the Iceni tribe died in the final battle but because the Romans were so organised and so disciplined, they had a takeover basically but they nearly lost she nearly took over she nearly got to Great Britain off the Romans, and definitely after her life the Romans were were a lot more cautious with the Britons and they had to do a lot more negotiating rather than being a dictatorship, which happened here 2000 years ago.
I think Boadicea is a figure from history that we can just really look up to, because she worked with her people. She loved her people. And she fought for the freedom of her people. And so this is something yes that has a resonance with today, but it also has a resonance that we should be proud of people like Boadicea because she’s a wonderful figure in history, and we cannot erase our history. Otherwise we become like what Stalin did to Poland you see when the Iron Curtain fell upon Poland. The Stalinistic rule was to dismantle all of the history pre Stalin. And so, young people were only taught about Russian history or Stalin in history, and the history of Poland was forgotten. So this is, this is for me a personal connection. History is very very important because it’s like what Marcus Garvey said, you know, if we do not know the history of our people then we are like a tree without roots, and many philosophers have reworded that like St John Paul II quoted the same thing in a different way. And it’s true.
Would I be right in thinking that there seems to be within this album especially compared to your previous words, perhaps. I don’t know where the anger is the right word, but definitely a defiance..
Yes, I would say that this album is a more personal take on the atrocities that have happened, not only through history, but also during my own life time. And I’m also approaching topics that I’ve been embarrassed to talk about like family estrangement and being of intergenerational trauma. It’s been a very difficult set of circumstances family wise for me over the years, but I’m now able to talk more openly about it since my mother’s death, and to not be disrespectful to my mother in any way but it was a difficult relationship but I have been digging around in my own history and my own Polish history to find out the answers why my mother was so cruel to me. Why my parents didn’t necessarily understand what it’s like to have a creative child or nurture that creativity. I feel like I’m able to talk openly about it now without sense of embarrassment. And it’s something that I’m working through every day, obviously, it’s a grief in itself, but thought the songs and the music and I through the texts and lyrics will show that music saved me I’m so blessed to be part of the musical community. And I’m so blessed to know so many wonderful people in my life now that it’s given me a sense of liberation and freedom, and also a sense of compassion because. Nothing happens without the other. And there’s more and more discussion about intergenerational trauma and it really does have an effect and on future generations and it’s really important that these traumas are dealt with, but obviously if you’re a child of the Second World War, or a child of the Iron Curtain like my mother was it’s not an easy thing that there often isn’t that ability to be able to speak or to get therapy or to understand about discussing your deepest blocks. So, I’m very lucky to be able to be in Britain and to be able to openly speak about these and I hope that I’m creating some healing space for my mother as well who was never able to express her deepest and darkest fears and blocks.
You mentioned the word freedom there, and I’m always intrigued by the choice of the final tune on an album and the final tune on your album is called ‘Freedom Song.’ What is the significance of this song.
Well this song Freedom Song is really inspired by several things going on here but my mother is now in a state of a freedom spirit so I see my mother as a spirit spirit of freedom and liberation rather than being chained to the shackles of what was keeping her blocked on this planet, it was very difficult for her as a child on this planet having a father, who had Auschwitz syndrome and who was very aggressive and did terrible things to his family. So, in one sense it’s that but it’s also a liberation with me and my mother I’m able to live very happily with my mother now knowing that she’s in a safer place than this planet, gave her. And also, the idea of Poland in itself having the possibility to be free because between 1795 and 1918, Poland was in erased off the map of Europe, it was illegal to speak Polish anywhere due to the partitions between Germany, Russia and the Austro Hungarian Empire. So for Poland 1918 signified 100 years of the beginning of the new Poland, but obviously that was short lived as in 1939 is 21 or so years later started another horrific further 50 year occupation. So there’s lots of things to do freedom but there’s also this wonderful singer in Krakow called Marek Grechuta and he wrote a beautiful song called Freedom Wolność and I am intermarrying all these wonderful influences, but, you know, freedom, is something that we cannot take for granted. It’s something that people fight very long and hard for. And, you know, there are so many examples of people who have struggled to get liberation for their people over the centuries, over the years, for thousands of years. So, you know, I’m sure this album’s got some resonance there for people who, who know people who’ve been enslaved.
And many, many thanks to Katy Carr for taking time out to chat with me earlier in the week, her new LP Providence was released yesterday and completes a trilogy of Polish themed LPs that began with Paszport (2012), then Polonia (2015), and of course now Providence (2020), Katy also asked me to make special mention of Help Musicians UK who funded the record release along with the Polish Cultural Institute,
Please visit her website, www.Katycarr.com .
Now from Poland’s let’s pop over the pond to Brooklyn, to listen to. Marcus Jade…