Most people would find their first gig as a professional radio presenter daunting enough on its own.
Not satisfied with just one major challenge, Catherine Britt has decided to combine the experience with a new tour, while training for a charity bike ride and the Crossfit Games.
“I’m a nut. But you know I love it, I really do. And I make it all fit. I get up really early and go to bed early and I’m smart about my time. Just trying to make the most of my days I guess.”
Britt will host local radio’s iconic Saturday Night Country for the next three months while Felicity Urquhart is on maternity leave. And the move is no whim for the singer.
“I’ve been on the radio with my dad in Newcastle for two years now – we have a show called Alternate Country. I’ve been wanting to get into radio for a long time.
“My grandad was on radio in Newcastle – that was his job. He was quite well known in the Hunter as a radio presenter. And then, my dad did radio, that’s how I got into meeting a lot of the country artists, my dad had a country show when I was in my early teens.”
And it wasn’t long after she started meeting those artists that Britt became one herself.
She recorded her first EP when she was 14 and her first full length album two years later. Both were produced by Bill Chambers, father to Kasey and somewhat the paterfamilias in Australian country music.
At 28, Britt has now spent half her life in the industry and has released five albums.
“I’ve reached that point in my career where music is everything to me, but I want to try other things.”
As well as the radio show with her dad, she hosts a weekly show on the Country Music Channel with the same theme.
“It’s really based on the outskirts of the country scene. To me that’s important because I think that the people that don’t get attention – the outskirts – is where I sit musically a little bit anyway, so I want to push them as much as I can.”
It’s a sensibility that she is keen to bring to Saturday Night Country.
“Of course it’s a mainstream show, so I get to play everybody, but I still get to chuck in a Lucinda Williams or a Paul Kelly where I can. And I think that’s what they want me to bring to the show, a bit of diversity, a bit of change.”
Instead of easing up on her solo career to accommodate her broader interests, Britt has intensified her efforts, taking more control of her last album than she had previously.
The move paid off, with a track from Always Never Enough earning the Country Music Association of Australia Female Artist of the Year title.
“It’s the first album I stepped up into the producer role for, which was pretty scary to put that out into the world, you know, and hope for a positive response,” she said.
“We went over to Austin, Texas (and) recorded it. I wrote everything on there and produced and played. It was a lot of firsts for me. We did the whole thing live, which I’ve never done before either.
“We just chucked everything at it and tried something completely different, and it worked.”
Britt has now joined forces with Chambers and Tim Rogers to form a Hank Williams-inspired band, The Hillbilly Killers.
Their first single was released this week, they’re in the midst of an east coast tour that Britt is fitting in around her media work and they will release an album later in the year.
“[It’s] just a little side project, but it has taken up a lot of time, you can’t do anything half-arsed. So it’s pretty full on.”
On top of all that, Britt is going above and beyond her Camp Quality Ambassador role to participate in a 1000km bike ride over ten days in September for the charity. Before that, she will compete in the Crossfit Games.
“I’m 100% or nothing. I have a lot of stuff going on all the time, but I wouldn’t function any other way. I enjoy my life to be full.”
Listen to Saturday Night Country from 10pm to 2am Saturday nights on ABC Local Radio around Australia and world wide on the web on Radio Australia.