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Music / The Cat Empire

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Our weapons were our instuments
Made from our timber and steel
We never yielded to conformity, but stood like kings
On a chariot that's riding on our record wheels.

The Cat Empire is an Australian latin/jazz/ska/funk/indie band formed in 1999. It began as a trio, composed of Ollie McGill, Felix Riebl and Ryan Monro, spawned from the nine-piece group Jazz Cat. After gigging around the Melbourne jazz scene, the band grew in 2001, with the other present day members joining.

Known for their energetic live shows, the band has achieved critical acclaim both in Australia and abroad.


  • Felix Riebl: vocals and percussion. Plays keys and sings with the band Felix Riebl and the Crashing Waters.
  • Harry James Angus: vocals and trumpet. Also part of Melbourne hip-hop group Jackson Jackson.
  • Ollie McGill: keys, melodica and backing vocals.
  • Ryan Monro: bass and backing vocals
  • Will Hull-Brown: drums. Together with Monro and Mc Gill makes up the eclectic electronic jazz trio The Genie.
  • DJ Jamshid "Jumps" Khadiwhala: decks and percussion.

The Empire Horns, a brass duo who accompany the band, consist of;

  • Ross Irwin: trumpet
  • Kieran Conrau: trombone


  • The Cat Empire (2003)
  • Two Shoes (2005)
  • Cities: The Cat Empire Project (2006)
  • So Many Nights (2007)
  • Live on Earth (2009, live album)
  • Cinema (2010)
  • Steal The Light (2013)
  • Rising With The Sun (2016)

This band and their music provide examples of:

  • Audience Participation Song: Many. More than half of the setlist at the gigs I've been to and the audience doesn't just sing the song lyrics, they often try to sing some of the trumpet solos too. Possibly, special mention should be given to The Wine Song which often also involves Harry directing the audience into dancing in co-ordinated circles.
  • Call-Back: The title track of their 2007 album So Many Nights references the title track of their 2005 album with:
    "I've got Two Shoes but they've been walked too far
    And I think that we could float from evening to the stars"
  • Everything Sounds Sexier in French: They performed a cover version of The Eagles "Hotel California" in French for Triple J's Like a Version and also sometimes perform it at live shows.
  • The Four Chords of Pop: Shows up in several tunes, such as "Know Your Name" and "No Mountain." The minor key version features in "The Lost Song and "Falling."
  • Fun Personified: You probably have to attend one of their gigs to appreciate how well they embody this trope onstage, but there is a good reason they are such favourites at festivals around the world. Their energetic free-wheeling style rarely fails to get the vast majority of their audience dancing and singing along, and they love to invite, not only other musicians to join them onstage, but also various dancers, acrobats and occassionally their next door neighbours.
  • Genre Mashup: Or rather latin/ska/funk/jazz/indie/rock/reggae/hip-hop.
  • Motor Mouth: Both Felix and Harry have their moments, most notably in Lullaby and Party Started.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: "Voodoo Cowboy," a song about a, well, Voodoo Cowboy, the lovechild of a snake and a scarecrow.
  • Ode to Intoxication: The Wine Song... "I'm drunk, I'm singing, I'm happy and loud!"
  • Scatting: Harry loves to scat, and does it frequently - especially in live shows.
  • Self-Titled Album: Their debut studio album (as is often the case with Self-Titled Albums)
  • The Something Song: They appear rather fond of this trope with songs titled The Wine Song, The Car Song and Luck Song.
  • Title Track: Two Shoes, Cities, So Many Nights, Steal the Light and Rising With The Sun on their respective albums.
  • Unplugged Version: This versionof "Feeling's Gone"
  • Vocal Tag Team: Harry and Felix share singing duties fairly equally.