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Catherine Duc

As a musical composer of new age, ambient, Celtic, world, and electronica music, what inspires you to write and create a blend of these modern and earthy sounds?

Listening to music from my favourite artists is my main source of inspiration. I like a wide range of genres including world, film scores (my favourite film composers are James Horner, Harry Gregson-Williams and Alexandre Desplat), contemporary classical, chill out, pop (mainly downtempo) and trance.

Some of the artists who have really influenced my musical style are Deep Forest, Enigma, The Corrs, Bill Whelan (composer of Riverdance) and Clannad. I'm lucky to have either met or be in contact with all these artists except Enigma (in keeping with the name I suppose!)

I'm also inspired by nature, especially the ocean and travel - I always come back from a trip with new musical ideas and occasionally a new instrument :)

Where did your musical journey begin?

I started learning keyboard when I was 8, although I had my first toy ‘grand piano’ when I was about 2 or 3. In high school, I started learning classical piano and completed 5th grade exams. In my final year of school, I really got into electronica/world beat music such as Enigma and Deep Forest and took synthesizer classes which I found much more interesting than piano lessons.

I was in the choir at school and was also invited to join the Australian Girls Choir although I didn't end up signing up as my parents thought the commitment would take too much time away from school work.

I also studied Film Music Composition with a London music school via long distance and took various courses in studio recording and music production at Hamer Hall (the main concert hall in Melbourne for orchestral performances).

I'm always learning new things about music composition, arrangement and production and these days it's mainly by listening to recording analytically or watching performances. I always attempt to get a front row seat at concerts - whether it's orchestral, world music or pop (the last one is much harder to do!) because it's a wonderful feeling to see the virtuosity of these performers and interact with them while they're on stage. It's even more amazing when they say to you after the concert - I saw you in the front row! :)

It’s been an exciting time for you. Are there certain protocols to adhere to in preparation for your nomination of the 2016 Grammy’s?

Yes, the Recording Academy sets out guidelines for its members from non-disclosure of proprietary information to vote soliciting. It’s really important to follow these rules because you wouldn’t want your entry to be disqualified or your membership to be terminated.

When you first heard about your Grammy nomination, what was your reaction and did you celebrate?

I knew that the Grammy nominations would be announced at 2am in my time zone in Australia, so I purposely didn't stay up for the results as I knew I wouldn't sleep either way! I usually leave my mobile on as a backup alarm clock and woke up when I received a text message around 2am from my father. I thought I had better check in case there was a family emergency but luckily it was just to let me know I had been nominated in the 'New Age Album' category!

I was so happy and excited that I felt like I had won the lottery! I couldn't get back to sleep after that and had to get up early for my 'day job' (in stockbroking) the next day. When I got to work, I showed the company's operation manager the nomination printout and he promptly whisked the piece of paper away from me and photocopied it (even though it specifically said 'do not copy'), then went into the CEO's office :) I celebrated with lunch with some colleagues then went out to dinner with my parents.

As the big day approached, how were you feeling? Have you ever been to the Grammy’s before and is this your first Grammy nomination?

I was so nervous I lost my appetite completely (not very common for me!) but had to force myself to eat something at breakfast as I knew it was going to be a really long day (there are 2 presentation shows plus the after party so this is about 12 hours).

I've never been to the Grammys before, let alone received a nomination, so it was amazing to see so many superstar artists in one place such as Adele, Taylor Swift, The Weeknd, Kendrick Lamar, Lady Gaga, Ellie Goulding and Lionel Richie.

Did you walk the red carpet and get to meet other artists who you find inspiring?

Yes, I had the chance to walk the red carpet and I even attempted to get through security in the hope I'd see some Adele or Bruno Mars arriving! Although security was nice to me, showing my nominee medal didn't work in this situation :) My PR representative was actually standing next to Carrie Underwood for a while on the red carpet! It was only when Carrie appeared on stage at the awards that he realised who it was as she had cut her hair.

I did meet many wonderful independent musicians at the pre-Grammy event parties and also through the Grammy networking online communities in the months leading up to the awards. These artists truly inspired me with their musicianship, dedication to their craft, determination and kindness (a big shout out to all my new friends!)

As an artist, how important do you feel, the Grammy event is in its entirety?

The Grammys are known as 'Music's Biggest Night' for a reason and it was so amazing and such an honour to be part of it. What many people aren't aware of is that there are 2 ceremonies - the Premiere Ceremony where over 70 awards are presented and then the Live Telecast. I really enjoyed going to both shows. At the Premiere Ceremony, it was really fantastic to see many nominees I met at the Nominees Dinner (the night before the Grammys) win their category. I discovered such amazing music throughout the Grammy voting season.

The Live Telecast was very exciting because I had never seen so many music superstars in the same place at one time!

Where have you placed your Grammy nomination medial at home?

That's a secret actually :) Let's just say you have to get through 3 secured areas and several video cameras to get there.

Are you a party girl? Did you attend any parties after the Grammy’s?

I'm not a 'party girl' in the literal sense :) My schedule was packed with about 2 parties per day, along with a recording session for World Peace One (led by co-founder Claes Nobel) and various sightseeing activities around LA I had scheduled in, so it was really important that I stayed healthy for the big day. I had only 1 day to get over jet lag and not sleeping for 41 hours straight (I can't sleep on planes) before I had to go into the studio for vocals.

I had created a colour coded Excel spreadsheet which had almost every hour of every day scheduled with something - everyone who saw it was overwhelmed ;)

I went to some pre-Grammy parties hosted by previous and current nominees including The Soiree (hosted by Al Walser) and Paul Avgerinos' party where quinoa salad and kale juice were on the menu - does that sound like a wild party to you? :) I also went to the Nominees Dinner which was held at the Ebell Club House and looked like a movie set.

The Grammy after party was held at the LA Convention Center and the theme this year was 'Candy Land' - the venue looked amazing like Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory! There were about 5,000 people there and I sat with some nominees from many different countries. The after party gift was a piece chocolate - but it was no ordinary chocolate. The card that accompanied the box said it retailed for $79 USD (for 1 piece) because it was made from a rare cocoa bean and coated in 24k gold flakes. When I found that out, I decided not to eat it but just keep it as a souvenir!

It was so wonderful and inspiring to meet other musicians and staff at the Recording Academy that I had known through the Grammy networking online communities.

Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

Attending the Grammys was an amazing experience that I didn't think would happen so soon for me. What made it even more special was the people I met during my travels - many of whom I knew of through the Grammy networking online communities or other music sites.

A big shout out to all the musicians and industry professionals for your inspiration! I can't name everyone here otherwise this interview would go on for a few more pages, but I'd like to acknowledge Lisa Sniderman, Kristin Amarie, and Paul Avgerinos for their help before the Grammys. Thanks also to Patricia Sullivan, Ian Cameron, Corbin Keep, Kelly Hood and Natalia Christiana for being part of my album. Finally, I'd like to thank the people who assisted me through Grammy week with their professionalism and warm personalities (just like the Californian weather) - Al Walser (PR guru and previous Grammy nominee), Ashley Kucich (makeup artist extraordinaire who did Meghan Trainor's makeup the day before the Grammys), Steve (manager at Cedars Transport who could be the actor Theo James' double) and the staff at Residence Inn LA Live.

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