Thursday, November 18, 2021

Artist Interview: Kat Robichaud

Kat Robichaud has burst into the entertainment scene as one of the most exciting, unique, eye-popping performers around.  Her Misfit Cabaret is self-described as “a splendiferous variety show centered around magical music with a rotating cast of eccentric performers. From burlesque to drag to circus to magic, you never know what you're going to see (or what you're getting yourself into)!”  Based on her internet presence, the cabaret lives up to, and probably exceeds, that billing.

Kat gained a national following with a deep run on Season 5 of The Voice in 2013.  Post-Voice, Kat originated the Misfit Cabaret, a visually stunning, uber-glam, hyper-eclectic musical performance art show based on the west coast.

In 2020 Kat ventured into the world of Christmas music and released “A Darling Misfit Christmas”.  Featuring six original songs, plus 4 clean/radio versions, “A Darling Misfit Christmas” is, in retrospect, a danged perfect album from the year where Christmas was turned on its side.

photo by Zoart Photography

With a year gone by since the release of the album, and just coming off of a successful reincarnation of the Misfit Cabaret with a new show “Asylum”, Kat graciously agreed to share some thoughts about “A Darling Misfit Christmas”.

For you lucky people on the west coast, Kat is bringing “A Very Merry Misfit Cabaret” to the Alcazar Theatre in San Francisco for four shows in December 2021.   Click here for ticket info:  A Very Merry Misfit Cabaret 

Merry & Bright Interview with Kat Robichaud

Merry & Bright: Hello Kat! Thank you for joining Merry & Bright for a few questions.  First of all, congratulations on “Misfit Cabaret: Asylum” and your run in the bay area and Seattle. It must have felt great to get back on stage in front of a live audience!

KR: It was amazing. I’ve had a hole in my heart since the pandemic took live music and theater away, and it was filled instantly during our first night back on stage.

MB: From what I’ve seen via your online videos, Misfit Cabaret is one of the most creative and imaginative shows around. Can you tell us about how Misfit Cabaret came to be?

KR: I had just moved to San Francisco after competing on The Voice. I got asked to perform in another variety show called “Panic and Give Up” and my now business partner, Jordan Nathan, was working the bar.  She approached me to produce a show together.  I had already started incorporating drag and burlesque in my solo shows to fight the doldrums of audiences getting bored between sets, and so this was a natural progression.  It is a marriage of rock and roll and musicals, my two favorite things.

MB: Any plans to take the show on the road for a broader tour in the future? Kansas City has some great venues that would be perfect! (hint hint)

KR: Yes, we absolutely want to keep expanding our audience and reach. We’re slowly getting back into it.  Covid is still a big risk, so we’re trying to be careful and very safe with getting shows back up and running again, and the further away we are from home, the more difficult that is. We’re excited about 2022.

MB: Let’s talk about your album, “A Darling Misfit Christmas”, that you released in 2020. It’s a great, uniquely original Christmas music record, that carved out a new little niche in my collection. Can you tell us how it came about? Did the album come from your Very Merry Misfit Cabaret shows?

KR: Yes. For each new Misfit Cabaret, I write 2 new original songs to coincide with the theme of the evening. We’ve done 3 Very Merries, so I’ve written 6 songs, and that’s what went on the album. I’m not writing any new holiday songs this year, because I wanted to bring back songs from years past, like “The Gremlins Song” and “The Star Wars Holiday Special”. We’ll also do “Cheer Up, It’s Christmas!” and “Christmas Miracle” during the show, and save “Quiet Christmas Night” and “Merry Christmas, My Love” for the VIP encore set. The album itself was recorded (VERY SAFELY) during the pandemic with thanks to a successful Kickstarter.  I’m so grateful I was able to record music during lockdown.  I think I would have gone absolutely insane otherwise.

MB: The album opener, “Cheer Up, It’s Christmas!” hits a perfect note, a message from the more enthusiastic about the Christmas holidays and all the trimmings that come along with it, to those who are less enthusiastic, and are more ready for the day after Christmas, when it’s all finally over. Can you tell us more about “Cheer Up, It’s Christmas!”

KR: Welp……the world has been upside down for…ever, but a lot more so in the past few years. It was kinda like “yeah, things suck, but at least we get to watch Xmas movies and drink eggnog, so it’s not all bad”.  I wrote the song BEFORE the pandemic though, and started worrying that the song came across as callous.  I was going to name the album “Cheer Up, It’s Christmas!” but I was worried people would see it as me ignoring the giant elephant in the room of “yeah, but we’re all stuck inside and it’s not safe to even see our families right now, so maybe pipe down on that Xmas bs”.  I felt like I didn’t have the right to tell people to cheer up.  As it is, I released the album during election week, which was such a dumb thing to do and I just wasn’t thinking.  No one was in the mood for holiday music.  No one.

MB: “Merry Christmas, My Love” hits the heart of the Christmas spirit, but in a wonderfully unique way. Instead of the usual Christmas song tropes, you sing of time machines, hot air balloons, and once-had-now-lost DVDs. Writing a Christmas song that doesn’t rely on the usual holiday imagery is hard, but you nailed it, and with a dose of humor too. Can you tell us about your creative process?

KR: That’s the only song that I didn’t write for Misfit Cabaret.  I wrote that in 2008 when I was really poor and couldn’t afford a present for my husband Guillaume.  It’s a song I continued to enjoy throughout the years and still loved so I put it on the album.  At the time of writing the song, I was obsessed with Doctor Who, so that’s why there’s a time machine.  The hot air balloon part I just thought was cute.  We actually did lose a DVD of “Inglorious Basterds” so while I was playing that song for the first time for Guillaume, I used my foot to slide the DVD out from under the couch.  Guillaume thought it was funny.  We managed to lose it again, though, which is ironic. We don’t usually have an issue holding onto things.

MB: Ok, now let’s get to my personal favorite on the album, “The Star Wars Holiday Special”. Holy reindeer, it is so good. First of all, how many times did you have to watch the special while you were writing the song? It had to be at least twice, which that alone makes you a tough, brave person. More than twice makes you a special person indeed.

KR: I’ve actually never watched the special by itself.  I’ve always watched the Rifftrax version, where the MSTK3 guys make fun of it.  I think that’s the only way it’s watchable.  There’s an aerialist in the Bay Area named Nina Sawant who has a phenomenal Chewbacca aerial silk number, and when she agreed to do the show, I knew I had to write that song for her.  She’s tiny and the Chewbacca head is enormous, and she still manages to do some pretty great tricks.  This year, we’re changing it up a bit, and we have Maia Walker performing silk aerials as Princess Leia.  It’s gonna be great.

MB: What is the story behind the song? When did you decide that the Star Wars Holiday Special should be immortalized with a Kat Robichaud tune?

KR: Haha.  See above.  Same goes for “The Gremlins Song”.  Our long-time collaborator puppeteer friend, Dave Haaz-Baroque with Shadow Circus Creature Theater wanted to create gremlins for the show, so I said I’d write a song about Gremlins for him to perform to.  That’s what I love about Misfit Cabaret- it gives me very weird parameters to write around.  I would never write songs like this otherwise.  It makes for a very kooky body of work.

MB: Your coverage of the, er, high points(?) of the special was so good. You’ve probably driven some of your fans to seek it out and watch it. Is that a good thing, really?  😀

KR: Of course.  For better or worse, a ton of people got together and poured their heart and soul into “The Star Wars Holiday Special”.  Some things are so bad, they’re good.  I would recommend watching it with the Rifftrax commentary, or at the very least under the influence of something.  Otherwise it’s just very quiet and slow-paced, with 30 solid minutes of wookie sounds and zero dialogue beyond what they watch on tv.  And they watch a lot of tv.

MB: Well, the song is amazing, and the video of the your performance on Youtube is terrific. Thanks for sharing it with the world. Major props to your aerialist, by the way.

KR: Nina Sawant is amazing.  She’s also in our upcoming full length feature film.  Love her to bits.

MB: You have upcoming performances of “A Very Merry Misfit Cabaret” in San Francisco, at the Alcazar Theatre. What can your fans expect from this show?

KR: I’m a Christmas fairy that’s tasked with cheering Brendan up, lest I get demoted to elf.  It’s based on the last Christmas show we did before the end times, but we’re switching a few numbers out so we can have “The Star Wars Holiday Special” and “The Gremlins Song”.  Our cast is phenomenal.  We’re excited to have burlesque star Frankie Fictitious, as well as the amazing drag chanteuse Katya Smirnoff-Skyy.

MB: Kat, do you have any special Christmas traditions that you celebrate each year?

KR: My husband and I watch Die Hard.  I think that’s the only tradition we’ve stuck to over the years.

MB: Do you have a favorite Christmas song?

KR: “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”, which we do at the end of the Christmas show every year.  I love Judy Garland.

MB: Kat, thank you again for spending some time with Merry & Bright! “A Darling Misfit Christmas” has become one of my favorite Christmas albums because it’s original, edgy, and terrifically Christmas. I wish you a tremendously successful run of “A Very Merry Misfit Cabaret”. Merry Christmas to you and all of the Darling Misfits!

KR: Thank you so much! Happy holidays to you and yours! xo


Kat Robichaud website:

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