You may have seen San Fran’s Kat Robichaud on season five of The Voice, though in fact she’s been at this music lark for a decade. With a sound that gleefully straddles the blurred lines between glam rock and indie rock, she’s way more than a former reality star. She’s in town this week so we chatted.
L.A. WEEKLY: How do you look back on that The Voice experience?
KAT ROBICHAUD: It’s so weird. It’s almost like it didn’t happen. But it was a truly one-of-a-kind terrifying and wonderful experience. I learned a lot — both about myself and about the industry. I made a lot of new fans from all over the world. I pissed some people off. It connected me with a lot of people I admire, like Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman. It got me to the next step in my career. I’m grateful to everyone who works on the show. They’re all lovely people. I’d do it again. I would just pick better songs.
Describe your sound/style…
I grew up listening to a lot of glam rock and Broadway soundtracks. The music I write tells stories and is piano driven. I guess you could say my style is theatrical rock & roll, or cabaret rock. I write about a lot of weird things — turn of the century serial killers, underwater ballrooms, Gremlins, David Bowie. Bowie is actually one of my main influences. When he died, I was writing music for our nautical themed show, Whimsea (which is the same show we’re bringing to L.A. in August), and I really wanted to write about Bowie, so I did and I made the song take place on a beach, looking up at the stars.
The “Darling Misfits” is a great name for a band — is that the vibe you’re going for? Beautiful outcasts?
Absolutely. I didn’t feel like I fit in on The Voice. I didn’t fit in at school. It wasn’t until I moved to SF from Raleigh, NC that I felt at home. I think it’s wonderful to be different, to have the courage to go against the norm. I moved to S.F. and fell in love with the avant-garde drag queens in SOMA. I loved the intricate stories they were telling within the span of a few minutes. I started channeling that into music with more cabaret-esque stripped-down shows, just me and a pianist. My partner Jordan Nathan and I turned it into a full on musical variety show called Misfit Cabaret. The Darling Misfits are the house band. I write original songs for each show. We hire drag, burlesque, aerial, vaudeville, puppets, and above all, beautiful misfits. We created a community in S.F. and Seattle where the lines blur between the stage and the audience. We’re excited to start building a new community in L.A.
What can we expect from this L.A. set?
Misfit Cabaret is bringing our nautical-themed show, Whimsea, to The Hayworth. We always start our shows with a massive sing-a-long medley of a bunch of contemporary pop and rock songs that coincide with the theme of the evening (Whimsea starts with me singing “Yellow Submarine” in a shark costume). The Darling Misfits and I will perform a handful of originals written specifically for the show, including the Misfit Cabaret theme song. We have Frankie Fictitious, who just won the highest honor at The Burlesque Hall of Fame, Miss Exotic World. We have songbird Eliza Rickman (Welcome to Night Vale), who’s songs will make you weep. Long-time collaborators Shadow Circus Creature Theater will bring their mischievous puppets which are always a crowd pleaser. And we have the fantastically artistic local drag queen Felony Dodger, who was on Season 2 of Dragula. We have a lot of other acts, but they’re a surprise.
After that, what’s next for you?
I’m getting ready to release some new music through my patreon (patreon.com/katrobichaud). Misfit Cabaret will start its fifth season in S.F. at the 500-seat Alcazar Theater, where we have a year-long residency. And we’re excited to build an L.A. Misfit Cabaret family!
Kat Robichaud and the Darling Misfits play at 8 p.m. on Friday, August 9 and Saturday, August 10 at the Hayworth.