Interview with musician and singer Katy Carr

16 Oct

Tea-Totalled welcomes you to the vocally amazing singer Katy Carr, who .We met in the cold morning in a rather comforting tea house named Yumchaa in the centre of town, she sipped on a red chaa whilst mine was a fruity tea mix named “The Regents Park”.

Terribly good singer/musician

Good morning Katy, please do tell us more about yourself and your music:

The music that I am making has been currently inspired by themes, stories and characters from 1940s Britain, France and Poland. I am a London based performer and songwriter and I play a variety of instruments including a vintage, wurlitzer electronic piano, ukulele and banjolele with my group ‘The Aviators.’ My previous three albums, ‘Screwing Lies,’ 2001,‘Passion Play’ 2003 and ‘Coquette’ 2009 were all self released on my record label called Deluce Recordings. Initially I started  singing and sharing English folk songs from about 300 to 400 years ago in lots of little folk clubs around Britain. Now I play to large and small audiences at home and abroad.

The theme of the 1940’s is very much part of your music and part of your character:

Yes the era of the 1940s has inspired me not only through style, fashion, music and songwriting but also from a historical angle. It was a time of great change not only on an emotional level but also through invention. The Spitfire airplane for example was developed indeed played a huge part in helping Britain to win ‘The Battle of Britain’ during the summer and autumn of 1940 and save Britain from Nazi occupation. When I was younger I was also in the Air Training Corps and I wanted to become a Fighter Pilot for the RAF. Through the ATC I was granted an RAF Flying scholarship.  I went on to get my Private Pilots License and so this helped cement my interest in all things aerial including a continued interest in aircraft especially my love of the Spitfire which is such a well crafted example of aero engineering.

On an artistic level my Grandmother Dorothy Carr, now 97 inspired me to think about the songs of the 1940s. She taught me many of her favourite tunes including ‘Sally’ originally sung by Gracie Fields and ‘Leaning on a Lampost’ by George Formby.

I really enjoy your version of “Lili Marlene”; I find the original by Marlene Dietrich quite unusually husky for my ears. My dad sadly tried to sing it to me the other day! But your version isn’t so stiff and has more of a softer edge to the song.

Yes I love this song which I believe was originally written in 1908 but became a huge hit in the 1940s made famous then by singers like Marlene Dietrich. I like to sing it accompanied on ukulele which give a lighter feel to the sound.

Were you brought up in Poland?

Partly, I was born in Nottingham and lived in Poland for the first 5 years of my life. I have a continued love of Poland especially the Beskids mountain range and region from where my mother comes from. Her home town is a little provincial market town called Bielsko-Biała. My fond, childhood memories of Poland are picking wild mushrooms in the forest with my Polish Grandmother who sadly in not with us anymore and adding them to scrambled eggs. Yummy!!! The other side was that I lived in Poland during the 1980s when it was behind the Iron Curtain in the time of Communism.  I remember that my Polish family had to queue for everything and pay with ration cards for example if bananas were available at the local supermarket people would start queuing at 5am in the morning even though their chances of buying them were slim… sadly it wasn’t so easy back then.

What most captivates you about the 1940’s?

The human angle interests me the most. I love hearing and listening to stories from the 1940s told from a first hand point of view. Both my Grandmothers on the British and Polish side have shared a lot of information about this time. Britain was never occupied by the Nazis and so thankfully although my British Grandma had her own worries and difficulties she didn’t have to experience some of the horrific events that Nazi occupation brought to my Polish Grandmother’s country Poland then under both Nazi and Soviet occupation.

On an aesthetic level I love to watch the films from that period, look at the amazing hairstyles and use of makeup. I also like the ‘make do and mend’ attitude and try to recycle as much as I can. Obviously if I had a small plot of land I would like to grow my own fruit and veg as reflected in the “Dig for Victory” scheme.

If anyone was starting out in music what would be your advice to them?

Do it yourself and do it now! Main thing is to believe in who you are and follow your heart…. All will work itself out if you follow your dreams!

Please do tell us more about your most recent album track‘Berliner Ring,’ :

The Berliner Ring is actually a large motorway which goes around Berlin, much like the M25.  I used it as a metaphor for Marlene Dietrich’s time in Berlin. Before Dietrich left Berlin she was a huge cult star in Germany and this song questions whether her move to the USA was a good thing for her career.

Which do you find yourself working with most, the ukulele or the piano?

I play both instruments at my gigs. Up until recently I only ever composed my songs on piano however since learning to play the ukulele I have begun to create music on the uke. I have wanted to record a 1930s / 40s album for a while and my dream is for the record label Decca Classics to release so I can get the promotional backup to reach a larger audience with these tunes.

Is there any exciting news that we should hear about which is happening in the future?

Yes, amongst doing tours and gigs in both Europe and the USA in 2010 my next major event will be in March 2011 when Kazimierz Piechowski who inspired my song ‘Kommander’s Car’ comes to Britain. There will be two main events one at the Polish Embassy and one for the public where people will get a chance to question him about the daring escape he made from Auschwitz Concentration Camp in 1942.

Hopper Questions:

What is your favourite movie: I love ‘Grizzly Man’ telling Timothy Treadwell’s story of living with the Bears in Alaska and ‘Top Hat’ with Fred and Ginger.

What are you reading at the moment: “Spitfire Women” by Giles Whittell

What other hobbies do you have: I love dancing, solo or in a couple to swing, 20s, 30s 40s tunes and Northern Soul

What is your best afternoon tea memory:

Never making my British Grandma Dorothy Carr’s tea right! She likes her tea acid strong and leaves it in the teapot for at least 10minutes before pouring. At 97 years old I wonder if her magic brew has kept her alive… She drinks 6 cups of this a day with 2 spoons of sugar!

Katy Carr
Musician, Songwriter Performer

t : +44 [0] 7972254710

For bookings please contact Katy’s agent :
Sophie Cammack

e : t: +44 [0]208 365 9555

‘Katy Carr has an undeniable skill as a song writer and lyricist. Her ability to use music to transport you to another place and time is extraordinary. I cannot fault her latest album ‘Coquette’ which is quite simply a masterpiece’ 5/5 star review Music Critic 2010


Interview with Kitten Von Strumpet

11 Oct

Kitten Von Strumpet!

Tea-Totalled welcomes you to the lovely Miss Kitten Von Strumpet, burlesque dancer and general beauty. She will be performing and wowing the crowds at Tea-Totalled’s Launch Party with her brilliant acts “Kitten Cones” and “Film Noir”, here is an interview introduction to get a better idea of her performing profession!

Hello Kitten Von Strumpet, we would love to hear more about yourself and how you got into burlesque performing:

 Well, I’ve been performing, as an actor for many years and I thought I’d just try something different to add to my skills. I went on a course run by Jo King. It was brilliant. Very inspiring and it gave me the confidence to perform at Tournament of Tease at Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club. It was terrifying and exhilarating and I haven’t stopped performing since.

What do you find really influences the ideas that develop your acts?:

The ideas really can come from anywhere for me. It might be a great piece of music or costume, or sometimes just the need to create something very different from the acts I’ve already got – to push myself into areas of performance I haven’t explored yet.

 To any starting burlesque performer what well needed advice would you give:

 Be true to what you believe to be interesting and exciting – don’t feel like you have to fit into a particular mould.

What was the most amazing moment of your career as a burlesque performer?:

 Performing at Club DADA at Glastonbury Festival.


 Hopper questions:

What are you currently reading- Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard

What’s your best afternoon tea memory-  Miss Rose Thorne’s afternoon birthday tea party – just brilliant.

 Thank you Kitten Von Strumpet, please do take a peek at her website for more burlesque amazingness!

Interview with Tea-Totalled’s Sponsor, Redbush Tea Company

1 Oct

The Redbush Tea Company

Tea-Totalled welcomes you to our lovely sponsor The Redbush Tea Company and their fabulous Marketing Director, Marie Heyes. early on a Monday morning rather than facing a mountain of boring tasks I was lucky enough to go into Redbush Tea Company headquarters to have a chat and sip on a superb cup of Redbush Tea

Hello Redbush Tea Company and Marie Heyes, we would love to hear more about yourself and the Redbush Tea Company:

Well the Redbush Tea Company has been around for about 12 years and 13 years old this December! I have been working with the company for most of that time apart from the first year. We are actually the only tea company that exclusively sells Redbush Tea products so we do like to think we are experts in the field, all the other companies sell it as part of a line range. We have the exclusive UK rights to the top 10% of the crop so we can guarantee that no other company in the UK is selling a tea grade as good as ours. We give a percentage of our profits back to support the Kalahari Peoples Fund (KPF) which is a charity supporting the indigenous peoples of the Kalahari ( The reason why we support them is because historically the Bushmen used Redbush (rooibos) for centuries as a form of medicine and there is therefore a lovely link between them and us, underlying both our ethics and principals of our company.

Brilliant! That all sounds fantastic, but I can see you also have other products are not just a packet of tea!:

Essentially we sell the tea as a three pack range in a 40’s and 80’s tea box which we call Original Redbush Tea which unflavoured. As a plant Redbush has such excellent colour, aroma and flavour that unlike other herbal teas it does not need to be blended to achieve these characteristics. The other Redbush Tea we sell is naturally flavoured with orange and lemon oil; this is available in Waitrose and Tesco’s. We also do a limited edition tin which contains 125g of loose leaf long cut Redbush. As a product Redbush is quite a coarse grained tea, the leaves are almost like pine needles and it doesn’t lend itself very well to packing; but having an especially longer leaf cut improves the brewing abilities in a teapot. Redbush has wonderful healing properties for benign skin conditions; in fact it is used in South African hospitals to treat people with for example eczema and psoriasis. Even for nettle rash it would be appropriate to treat it with Redbush, so no dock leaves are needed. It has both anti inflammatory and antispasmodic properties so can also help soothe acne as well as an upset stomach. We developed redbush soap about 8 years ago and we did some trials with 100 customers who had skin problems to test the soap and see if it improved their skin condition. The response was incredible and 100% of them found that it improved their skin condition over that 3 week trial period. The soap is handmade in Norfolk by the Natural Soap Company and does not contain any chemical, skin abusing ingredients that you get in a mass produced bar of soap. We do two soaps, one is straight forward with Redbush in it and the other has very finely ground Redbush and aromatherapy oils for exfoliating and detoxing your skin.

Environmental policies are obviously a very important factor for the Redbush Tea Company:

Yes, very much so. We won’t look at anything that has a damaging impact on the environment. The card provided to make the tea boxes are made from timber sourced from managed, sustainable forests. The tea bag paper is non chlorine bleached and obviously the tea is natural itself because no additives, chemicals or preservatives ever come near it. When we started producing the soap I made the decision to change from palm oil which at the time came from Malaysian forests that were directly responsible for damaging rainforests and endangering species such as Orang-utans. We now source our palm oil from a dependable provider in Columbia; the plantation in South American used to be a coca farm (cocaine) but now has been converted to a palm oil plantation so we are also giving the farmers a legitimate income.

What’s the best dish or snack you would recommend to eat with Redbush Tea?:

Actually it is best used in cooking; I’ve made Redbush Tea risotto which has been a big hit with my dinner guests.  It can be used as a substitute with pretty much any liquid ingredient in any recipe except dairy. Redbush Tea takes on other flavours really well and also it is a natural meat tenderiser, so if you’re making marinades or stews it is a really good thing to include.

I guess that the Redbush Tea Company is a fan of “The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” novel series?:

We definitely are, in fact we are endorsed by the author, Alexander McCall Smith, as the tea of choice for Mma Precious Ramotswe (the main character of the book collection) and any commercial use of her name in conjunction with Redbush has to be aligned to our product only. Other companies have come close to this but legally they cannot make a clear and direct connection to her. We have worked with Alexander for a number of years and he has been very supportive, when the DVD “No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” was released two years ago with in each DVD box there was a flyer containing the a special Redbush Tea competition. We will continue to work with McCall Smith as long as Mma Ramotswe is around. We were also mentioned in Stuart Brown’s recent recipe book, “Mma Ramotswe’s Cookbook”, in fact I actually wrote a couple of lines in the book for Stuart about our work with the Bushmen.

Hopper questions:

 What is your favourite movie- That would be either “Raiders of the Lost Ark” or “La Finestra di Fronte” (translated “Facing Windows”)

What are you currently reading- “Mad Dogs and Englishmen” by Ranulph Fiennes

Hobbies- Learning how to speak Italian, dancing, cooking, gardening

What’s your best afternoon tea memory- Having tea at the Ritz with Alexander McCall Smith

Thank you Redbush Tea Company for the lovely chat and also the cup of Redbush Citrus tea!

Redbush Tea is available in all main line supermarkets, please look at their website for more information on their products and work with the Kalahari Bushmen or to request a delicious free sample of their tea!

Tea Making tips from 1940’s

30 Sep

God Save The Queenie!

Ha hah! This golden gem I only came across today, it’s so beautifully British that it almost made me stand up in and sing “God Save the Queen”! The tea scientist/advisor in the video has such impressive eyebrows, leafy shrubbery eyebrows (what a hottie,pah!) 🙂

Flap jack recipe review

28 Sep

Hmmm what to bake, what to bake? FLAPJACKS! I love the sweet oaten mix and with some spare time on my Saturday night I rummaged around my kitchen for the ingredients. I ended up pulling this recipe off the internet for a chewy flapjack, weirdly adding a mushed up banana (I can now spell banana thanks to Gwen Stefani… thank you Gwen… thank you) which gives it a really fabadaba taste and texture. I gave in on the whole unhealthy butter and treacle scheme and dropped in some finely chopped apricots which really works. I am definitely serving up flapjacks at the Tea-Totalled Launch Party for the gluten free guests. May I also recommend that you check out other yummy recipes from Becca Rothwell (fellow food lover and blogger)


Review of Vintage Emporium and big Thrift Sale

25 Sep

May the silliness commence, yes darling Saturday was a lovely day even though I had only £20 to my name. What best way to spend it? Easy pesy lemon squeeze, go to Shoreditch High Street where the paupers of London town are comforted & loved by the area. First me and my bargain princess friend ploughed over to the !!GIANT SCLATER STREET OUTDOOR JUMBLE SALE!! Hosted by East End Thrift Store, a huge car park filled with piles of clothes 85% unorganised but it was 100% thrift jumble sale.


Thank Cathula we were the first in the queue cause the clothes were a variety of dead people hand me downs. HOWEVER I did find a lovely white/blue jumper for winter gear also a super nice rain coat from vogue ELLE! Me and bargain princess friend shared a £10 plastic bag so it only cost £5 each, we could easily fit in 4 jumpers and a heavy raincoat into the bag so it is fair pricing. I did get rather terrifying when attacking the clothes and apologised to the customers of my frantic “raggamungering”, maybe next time could there be less surprise wasps stuck in-between the clothes?

Mildly exhausted we went round the corner to the “Vintage Emporium” cafe


Opened the door to a great assortment of items and furniture which had been placed incredibly well.

Boxes of yes!

 Even the downstairs clothes section was made to feel like Madame Debiour’s bedroom, filled with amazing pill box hats and leather suitcases. But back to tea time, we sat at the front of the cafe in rather happily snug chairs were we shared our tea moment with a rather exhausted dog named “Pan” who lived in the shop. He wasn’t very sociable but when our banana and carrot cake slices came to the table he become more interested in us (cheeky bugger). 

Tea and cake moment

 We sipped on earl grey whilst listening to the “American” 1940’s countryish tunes, the cafe keeper was chatty and told us that the cake had been homemade on a different site since sadly they didn’t have a kitchen so I recommend if you want to go the Vintage Emporium go earlier than later to get a wider selection of cakes cause they can run out of them. My carrot cake was a bit dry and the water mixture icing was a bad idea for the cake but otherwise the ginger flavouring was a nice touch but the whole cost of tea and cake was only £3.80. Look underneath to view the very many poses of Pan (UK’s American Top Model)

Pose One

Pose Two

Pose Three

We wandered around and came across a wooden hut in the middle of the street with a tea tray roof! WHAT!

Built out of tea trays!

 Alrighty it was a clever promotion stunt for “Ella Doran” a design collaborated product shop, in celebration of the London Design week they held a free street party mainly promoting “Family Style Living” book Paumes of Japanese inspired living styles. We munched on delicious rice and seaweed sweet crackers and lemon cake slices, sipped on green tea. I adore Saturdays.

Japanese crackers and cake

My fridge gave me supper

24 Sep

I have consumed a whole pig nearly today and my stomach wants to compete with the sizing of Obelix’s. This eve’s stew knock up of pork cheeks needed to be accompanied with a hefty amount of veg BLURK turn up my little nose at steamed or boiled veg. Right, vegetable draw in the fridge was kind enough to provide me 5 cherry tomatoes, an avocado and a red onion (voilaaaaaa). Then I dragged away from my cupboard a small baby tin of tin puree which I had not touched in the past half year because the miniatureness of the grocery item amuses me so! I have been sipping on passion fruit juice and vodka, by the way it is a innie night and I don’t dare venture into the autumn freeze in my high heels and clutch handbags. NOW you lucky humans of the lazy kitchen I give you my smashed up veggie vegan dish, it is incredibly filling so don’t make too much when you have a spot of meat with it.

Frying pan, chopping board, sharp knife (yes a sharp one since red onions prove to be real tough cookies), bowl, fork (to squish and scope things), wooden spatula you need to arm yourself with.

 NEXT approach kitchen and start chopping the whole of the red onion into chunks (balls to chop finely), put the frying pan on the hob at a low heat and put in some cooking oil. Next whish together 1/3 of vinegar and 2/3 of olive oil, one spoon of honey (brown cane sugar for vegans) and one spoon of French mustard; that’s the dressing. Once the oil in the pan sounds like it is making small spitting noises plop in the red onions and occasionally toss them around for 5 minutes, then add half a can of tomato puree. Chop up the cherry tomatoes into quarters, slice open the avocado and scoop and moosh it all into a lumpy puree. Pop in the cherry tomatoes into the frying pan and let the whole thing cook together for another 3 minutes, put in 3 small spoons into the avocado puree. Take the frying pan off the heat and pour the tomatoey contents onto the avocado mush and there’s your bob uncle whatever A MEAL!

Only takes 10 minutes to make you lazy kitcheners so start cooking whenever.