Hailing from Europe’s surf capital Biarritz (France), Betty The Shark is Down Under to show Australia how they rock, promote their debut record Shepherd of the Moon and spread the good times.
Comprising two long-term school friends Lee-ann Curren on vocals, bass and guitar and Philip Caradona on vocals, lead guitar and keyboards, the duo spoke to Janek Hranickaahead of both music and surfing commitments. Lee-ann is also a Roxy team pro surfer with serious surf lineage – her dad is Tom Curren.
Tell me about Betty and the Shark?
Lee-ann: Me and Philip met in middle school in Biarritz. Philip is from New York originally and moved there with his older sister and his parents and we kind of started the band in middle school.
Philip: I moved to Paris when I was six and when I was thirteen we went to Biarritz and that’s where I met Lee-ann for the first time. Yeah. Me and Lee-ann were friends first and then…how did you realize we all played music?
Lee-ann: I think we started playing music and after a while we kinda came up with a name Betty the Shark and that’s when it actually became a band. And we did a little recording on tapes and stuff.
Lee-ann: For a while after we finished school Philip went back to New York and I went travelling a lot for surfing so we kind of kept playing but more like in summer holidays and stuff. 2011 is when we really committed to playing more and making an album and we started writing a lot of music again.
Where did the name come from?
Lee-ann: It just came from being suspended at school.
Philip: Detention, two hour detention not suspended.
Lee-ann: Yeah and in the two hours we made drawings of a shark and her name was Betty and we thought it was hilarious for a reason. That’s where it started.
Tell me about your album
Lee-ann: Shepherd of the Moon is our first album. It came out in May 2014.
Lee-ann: Quiksilver have a recording studio in France and a sound engineeer who’s really good like he’s worked with Serge Gainsbourg and other big artists. I think his experience definitely helped us and we got a really clean recording. For the first recording we’re really happy with it.
Philip: It was great and we’re very lucky to have found him. We connected with him great, he’s a friend.
How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t listened to it yet?
Philip: Very sunny, very bright. That’s it.
Lee-ann: (smiling) That’s it. We’re kind of genre-hopping depending on what instruments we us… I think sunny is the word for it.
What is more important to you – the music or the lyrics?
Lee-ann: I think everything is important. You want lyrics that you can sing to people and be a hundred percent behind those lyrics.
Philip: I think the lyrics. Of course I focus a lot on the musical part but you know people are listening to them (the lyrics), I have a lot to express, I want people . . . I wanna send a message in a way and I think lyrics kind of open up another world.
How does your creative process work when writing songs?
Lee-ann: There’s like two different cases. We’re either away from each other like I’d be travelling or he’d be in Paris or New York. We start a song a send it to each other back and forth and add little parts. Sometimes it works really well. And when we’re writing music together it always starts with improvising and then if something sounds good we try to record it so we don’t forget it and work on in from there.
Do you have a day time job?
Lee-ann: My day time job is surfing. A lot of people wouldn’t consider that a job, yeah, most of the time it’s just fun and not even a job. But that’s what I get paid to do.
Philip: I used to work in retail, sometimes construction, painting and building but now I’m focusing on Betty the Shark so Betty the Shark is my day job.
Lee-ann where is your surfing career going at the moment?
Lee-ann: Well I’m doing a few contests but really focusing on free surfing and doing good trips, good photos and some content for my sponsors. They’re pretty happy so far so it hopefully keeps going this way and we’ll see what this year brings.
Can we expect some surfing movies with Betty the Shark on the soundtrack?
Lee-ann: Oh that would be great actually. We should do that.
Philip: We love making movies so why not do that.
Catch Betty The Shark at Miami Tavern on 8 March and keep an eye out for Lee-ann in the lineup until 18 March.