CARO Snatch has vivid memories of her time in the North East, as well she might. She spent part of it living in a double decker bus belonging to her then boyfriend.
But we’ll come to that. Caro’s second album, ‘Til You’re No Longer Blinkered, has just come out, exciting fans of electronic music and of performers so idiosyncratic that they don’t quite fit any genre.
The bus featured on the late John Peel’s Channel 4 series, Sound of the Suburbs, while somewhere you’ll find Caro’s name mentioned in the same sentence as Björk, another singer who defies categorisation.
You can see why she and her bus would have appealed to Peel. While her music passes under the radar of mainstream pop, it delights a more discerning audience.
Tyneside magazine The Crack called Caro “Tyneside’s first lady of electronica” after her live debut at Newcastle’s Head of Steam in 2003. And whatever image that conjures up, it’s likely to be wide of the mark.
Caro’s real name is Caroline Churchill. The pseudonym, she says, comes from the idea that you must snatch what opportunities arise.
She spent a good deal of her childhood in France where her father was a jockey and then a racing journalist. Her mother works on the magazine Country Life.
Caro came to Newcastle in the early 1990s because her sister was here and to study languages at the old Newcastle Poly. Unfortunately, a bad back hindered her studies and continues to dog her to this day.
The operation that has been put off for years is now looming after years of managing pain. But Caro is resigned, cheerful even.
“I thought at first that lots of people have back pain and just get on with it really. I came to Newcastle to do the degree and was also working in a Chinese restaurant.
“But it came to the point where I just crashed. I was doing very well at the poly but suddenly I was laid up. They talked about an operation but ended up not doing it.
“As part of my rehab I went to live on the bus, which belonged to my partner at the time (musician Jez Nicholl). It was a beautiful old 1967 Leyland bus that came from the St John Ambulance. We drove it around the North East.”
It also came equipped with a synthesizer and recording equipment and, being laid up with little else to do, Caro started dabbling in making electronic music.
She developed her own sound, incorporating spoken word, percussion and beats from various musical genres including classical, pop and electronica.
Despite insisting that she wasn’t ready, Caro was persuaded to perform her first gig back in 2003, drawing comparison with the American experimental musician and performer Laurie Anderson.
Helped by some Arts Council funding, Caro then had a musical interlude in Berlin.
“It’s a bit of an electronic mecca and a lot of the artists and labels I admired at that time were there,” she says.
It resulted in a self-released debut album called Es Muss Sein (meaning “It has to be done”) in 2006.
Caro, who in her varied life has also had a spell in Bosnia working with refugees on an international volunteer programme, relocated to Manchester, where she is now based, in 2007.
There she set herself the task of learning all she could about sound recording, turning herself into a musical mistress of all trades.
She won a competition to support Bat For Lashes at Manchester International Festival and last year was artist-in-residence at the city’s Contact Theatre. Her star continues to rise.
The new album features the work of 20 artists, including Tyneside’s Beccy Owen, in a soundscape linked by Caro’s own vocals.
Technically ambitious, it can be bought via www.carosnatch.com.