Jamie Morgan and Carla Viegas, collectively known as the duo Rabbit Foot, came stomping onto the international blues scene a while back with Swamp Boogie, and are now gaining a strong following after their Dark Tales EP. The unique sound of Rabbit Foot—Morgan’s edgy, gritty guitar style accompanied by the African-inspired backbeat of the soulful drummer-vocalist Viegas—marks them as a band to keep an eye on. Based out of London, the young UK band is currently striving to build an international community of fans through the remarkable powers of the internet and social media, in the hopes of one day playing for audiences of enthusiastic fans around the world. Blues Rock Review had the chance to ask these guys some questions about their musical background, influences, creative outlets and plans for the future of Rabbit Foot.
When did each of you start playing music?
Jamie: Guitar when I was 17, was the first time, then I put it down at 23ish to play percussion and picked it up again 12 years later!
Carla: For me it all started at 14, with the singing. I started learning basics of piano and guitar so I could accompany myself and spent many, many an afternoon assiduously learning songs… recording myself… critiquing… and starting all over again. Reading books on voice technique (I am a geek)… and driven by insane ambition. A year later I had a producer/manager and a record deal in Portugal – I was bonkers! I went on to sing for many years in a variety of settings and musical styles.
The drums didn’t come into the equation until much later even though I have always had a soft spot for them and would try and have a go on the drummer’s kit whenever I could at gigs – unfortunately for me though, I am left-handed and all the sets around were always right-handed. This added to short time available to soundcheck always hindered that impulse… thankfully, years later, I found an African drumming hub in London, made friends, joined classes, drummed till my hands bruised and my fingertips callused and bled… and eventually got my hands on Jamie’s African bass drums in 2009. Now I have lady-like hands again! 😉
Aside from playing music, do you have any other creative outlets or hobbies that you are especially passionate about?
Carla: I have a deeply restless mind, so I have a myriad of interests… from Medicine (I volunteer with the Red Cross), Languages (I speak a bunch), to Psychology (which I currently study) via many more. I utterly love cinema and am a bit of a cinephile. I also love reading and creative writing, and I love travelling to beautiful places… : )
Jamie: The outdoors, reading, climbing, movies, all things to help me recharge and get back to… Music!!
How did the two of you get together to form Rabbit Foot?
Jamie: Quite accidentally, when I started to get back into playing guitar Carla came along to some small pub gigs I did solo and things just took off when we played together… For the first couple of years, up to the start of this winter, things were literally formed onstage and the whole band vibe depended on whatever stage time we were getting that week/month. Only recently have we really started to really become the identity known as Rabbit Foot, with a sound and an image we can really identify with… No doubt it will keep changing too as we have many many influences and inspirations and a lot of material to draw on now, and we have had a lot of help from many sources!
Carla: I think Jamie perfectly summed it up!
Why did you pick the name Rabbit Foot?
Jamie: Rabbit Foot appears as an item of either good or bad fortune in so many different cultures around the world that we felt it represented our sound quite well, also there is an edge to it, it’s not just about good luck, it’s a FOOT for goodness sake and we do have a dark side too!
Carla: …. and Jamie didn’t even like the name at first! I instantly fell in love with it.
Do you have a favorite song of Rabbit Foot?
Carla: I love our EP… I often listen to it on my iPod, and my favourite thing about it is that when I listen to it I am actually enjoying the music (not being a perfectionist and picking my work apart! lol). It’s very hard for me to choose a favourite track… those songs are like children, can’t choose a favourite! I love them all.
Jamie: We have a lot of great songs that are unrecorded, my favorite of which is called ‘Hugh The Wolf’ … and I love what Carla does with my writing, especially on songs like ‘Tip My Hat’ and ‘She Comes To Me’.
Who are your biggest influences?
Carla: Oh gosh… my influences are perhaps within a broader spectrum of styles than Jamie’s – I’m a total ‘music omnivore’, I’ll listen to anything and everything that tickles my fancy and my iPod is a truly confusing place. But after giving it some thought….: Ella Fitzgerald, Howlin’ Wolf, Buddy Guy, Freddie Mercury, Billie Holliday, Jack White and the White Stripes, Jessie-J, Marilyn Monroe, Roisin Murphy and Moloko, Talking Heads, Alison Goldfrapp, Beyonce, Janis Joplin, Janelle Monae, David Bowie, SRV, and.. Madonna! (Welcome to my mind!)
Jamie: Well, the artists that inspired me to play music in the first place are mainly every classic Blues/Rock player from the ’50s onwards Sonny Terry to Led Zep and all points in between and beyond – Nowadays I’m influenced and inspired by many more artists though mostly in the Rock and International music scenes. I have rarely played other peoples songs even at the very beginning, preferring to improvise and find my own way with it (made it so hard to find other musos to play with at the time that I eventually put the instrument down for a few years (Stubborn Child!!) I have always listened to a lot of music and in turn I play a lot for my own pleasure and the influences just come out in their own way, I prefer it like that and it has continued the same way my whole musical life, I still listen a lot and I still play a lot and what comes out in my playing and writing is all to the good but I don’t want myself or Rabbit Foot to sound like anyone but ourselves. Having said that, I think the influences are plain to see 😉
Where do you get inspiration for your music aside from these influences?
Jamie: I love stories, I love making them up and I love telling them, only in the last couple of years have I realized that I love writing songs too and so some songs tell stories from old folk tales, or things that have happened to me, or never happened, or I wish would happen, or they tell my own stories through the lens of old tales or they tell of random images inspired by rhythms and riffs!! – Rhythm rules in the Rabbit Foot world, but actually the back beat is usually the last thing to go down… at which point I often have to rewrite the whole song. Lol
Carla: I love Jamie’s ‘universe’ – the whole imagery and mythology where his songs come from. My inspiration in my contribution (drum beats and vocals) often comes from my background in pop and Electronica – I do like a nice, solid, danceable beat. As for the vocals, I like to sculpt my voice to fit the song and its meaning… that’s a more diffuse process I think. Much less clear… 🙂
Do you have plans for the future of Rabbit Foot?
Jamie: I would say the main aim now is to get the EP out to as many people as possible around the world and to keep building the community, there’s no denying that making a career in music nowadays is about building a community that people can dip into and interact with and dip out again, we hope there are some great venues all over the world that would like to have us and people that would like to see us, we’ll come! Musically speaking we have a very broad palette and the directions which this band could go in are really quite diverse, our first two recordings reflect that and this will continue 🙂
Carla: I totally agree with Jamie. I am hoping for our next steps to include finding management (if you’re out there – drop us a call!), a booker, and starting to gig abroad – we’re collectively dreaming of Norway… so I reckon there might be good things there for us! : ) I’d also like to go do some gigs around Europe, am thinking mainly of France, Spain, Portugal, Netherlands and Germany… but we’ll see! Oh, and I also have a massive, massive fantasy of playing in New Orleans…. ahhh. : )
If you could jam with one musician/band, living or dead, who would it be?
Jamie: As long as it is actually jamming in the true sense and not ‘do you know this song?’ I love to ACTUALLY Jam, as in create music in the moment, and am more than happy to play with anyone with a similar mind set, some of my very very best experiences with this have been with non musicians banging on pans and shaking biscuit tins! Quite often in the early days we turned gigs into big jams at the end and members of the audience joined in… The only problem with that being the issue of alcohol as sometimes it’s just NOT conducive! Lol Jamming has become a bit of an art form for me, over the years, and there are certain attitudes and elements that must be in place 😉
Carla: Oh my… Freddie Mercury, Alison Goldfrapp, Bjork, White Stripes…. a girl can dream!
Any message for your fans?
Jamie: Well, thank goodness we don’t have to do this in a vacuum!! We have some great fans, ones that interact with us and help us out loads as well as listen and watch and dance. The hope is that we keep improving and keep at it and hopefully keep inspiring and keep making it worthwhile for folks to come out and support, cuz that’s what it is now, the whole music business is now in the hands of the fans and it has to be worthwhile.
Carla: Remember to go out to live gigs – this is vital and keeps musicians going – you’d be surprised at how little people actually go out to watch live music, even though they are supportive of the bands!
Interview by Eileen Quaranto