Rockabilly Bash: I have some reasons of interviewing you. First of all you were named the best rockabilly singer in LA, but not everyone seems to know your name. Another big reason is that you are coming to Europe this year for quite a long tour. Those two facts are correct, right?
Karling Abbeygate: Yes, that’s right. The reason some of the "Rockabilly Scenesters" may not have heard of us is because the band is relatively new. We’ve only been playing together a couple of years, whereas many of the rockabilly bands out there have been playing for much longer. The awards were based on the album. We’ve been playing a lot of shows this year, and also we have our European tour, August 17th - September 15th, so by the end of the year we should be a household name. Just kidding ;)
RB. You were born in England and later moved to USA. Are there any particular reasons for it?
KA. Because my father is an American I have two passports. A British and an American one. The idea of checking out America seemed very exciting to me having been brought up in England. I used to walk to school everyday in a bitter cold rain and wind, swearing I would go somewhere warmer!
RB. Do you regard yourself now as American or English?
RB. What about moving back and become the best Rockabilly singer in England?
KA. It’s an idea, I’m sure my Mum would like it…
RB. How is rockabilly life in California like?
KA. It’s great. Even though Los Angeles is a huge city, before too long you start to know nearly all the other bands in the scene. There’s lots of camaraderie amongst the bands - and there’s something glamorous about living in L.A., you never know when a movie star might show up at your gig!
RB: If you wanted to be a professional musician and live in LA, would you survive?
KA. Well, that would depend on how good of a musician you are, and also how professional of a person you are. There’s a lot of competition in L.A., but also a lot of work. But yes, just like anywhere, I believe the cream rises to the top.
RB. Don’t you think that your promotional photos are a little bit provocating? Who is standing behind the main ideas about how those pictures must be done?
KA. Really, you think they’re naughty? ;) Well, I guess I’ve never understood boundaries very well. If someone doesn’t tell me to stop, I’ll keep on going. If you think those shots are racy wait till you see the cover for the next album!
RB. Do you, being such a cute lady with a beautiful body, have bodyguards during your shows/tours?
KA. No, I don’t have a bodyguard. That’s pretty funny.
RB. Have you ever thought of making a burlesque show during some of your songs? I am sure, people would love it?
KA. That’s a good idea. I might work on that. We’ve played at some burlesque shows and I have quite a few friends who are burlesque dancers.
RB. Being more country singer, is it difficult to change your style to rockabilly?
KA. Actually it’s very easy. The roots of rockabilly are based in country and hillbilly music. I like to sing country ballads, and then some mid tempo Hank William’s style honkytonk, and then the Wanda Jackson style Rockabilly.
RB. Where is your heart and soul: in rockabilly or country?... And if you would look through your clothes… what style they are more following?
KA. Well, I guess I don’t see the distinction as clear-cut. I see country and rockabilly more as a time-period of the 50s. Patsy Cline, Elvis, Buddy Holly, they all did country and rockabilly. The 80s Rockabilly is a whole different thing as it morphed a lot from the tradition, but now the 80s is so long ago, that it’s retro in its own right! Oh, and I guess that when we’re talking country we’d better clarify that I only do Old-Style, Honky Tonk country. My answer to your question about clothes: More Rockabilly lately, although I do have some very cool vintage country dresses, too.
RB. What is, by the way, your description of rockabilly?
KA. The fusion of black rhythm and blues with white country and hillbilly music. First exemplified by Elvis in 1954.
RB. Who are your biggest competititors in rock’n’roll scene?
KA. I don’t really look at it that way. If I think a band is good, I would rather make friends with them and play on the same bill.
RB. When you are listening to your own singing, what is usually coming to your mind? Do you like it?
KA. When I listen to my recordings it is very hard for me to separate myself and just be a listener. I’m very critical. But then when I listen after not hearing that recording for several months, then I have fresh ears and I’m not so attached. Then I usually like it!
RB. When did you start singing?
KA. About 10 years ago
RB. Which of your albums is the most successful in your opinion and why?
KA. The last album was successful. It got a lot of great reviews in National papers, great airplay, and quite a few awards. Yes, that was definitely our most successful so far.
RB. On MySpace it says that your “usual” live band is… and who is a part of the “unusual” band and on which kind of occasions?
KA. Ha, ha… well, we have a regular band, but sometimes a member is unable to do a gig, so he has a “second” and then there will even be a “third” if the second is not available either. They are all great players.
RB. What do you expect from your European tour?
KA. Well, I am certainly expecting to have a good time. Spread the word about who I am and what I do. R.J and myself are going to be doing some recording also, so I’m really looking forward to that. Hopefully I’ll make a lot of new friends and fans. Oh, I’m bringing my cat too, so that’s going to be interesting!
RB. Why did you choose Russian and Estonian bands to back you up during the tour? Did you have an “audition” for them or did you just picked up the first two who had contact with you?
KA. The bands were chosen by R.J. He is our partner in this tour, and he’s an awesome musician. I have his last CD and it totally rocks.
RB. Do you think those bands are good enough for you? Aren't you afraid that they will be just the opposite, much better and attract all audience's attention?
KA. They are all excellent musicians, and I’m not afraid of them being not good enough or too good. I’m just looking forward of the experience of rocking out with these guys.
RB. I have heard that you are taking your rhythm guitar player with you. Don’t you trust European ones?
KA. Donnie is my musical director, and it would be a struggle to go completely on my own. Someone has to carry the cat and the suitcases ;) I’m sure European rhythm guitar players are just fine!
RB. What rockabilly musician in Europe you like the most and why?
KA. Well, I can’t give you one favourite, but I love R.J, Little Esther, The Tin Stars, Ruby Ann (whom I saw at Viva Las Vegas)
RB. What is a perfect backing up band for you?
KA. Just great musicians that know the style and are experienced, learn quickly, have good memories and lovely attitudes. That’s not too much to ask is it? ;) Oh, and slapping upright bass is very important.
RB. What is difference between rockabillies in Europe and U.S.? Can you spot right away who is who just only by the style people are dressed or behaviour?
KA. Yes, it’s quite obvious the differences. The European rockabillies dress a lot more like Teddy Boys. Here in the USA, that just doesn’t happen. No drape coats or “creepers”. No really big “quiffs” Big hair is more reserved for the Psychobillies. The American Rockabillies are also more ethnic - many of the Latino teenagers are into that music.
RB. So are you ready to amaze Europe?
KA. I’m gonna give it my best shot!
RB. Best luck to you, we are really looking forward to meet you over here!
KA. Thank you Kitti, I’m looking forward to meeting you too.