5 Minutes with Puss n Boots

By Mariam Digges

5 Minutes with Puss n Boots
After playing live together since 2008, Norah Jones, Sasha Dobson and Catherine Popper have taken their collaboration into the studio under the moniker Puss n Boots.

Where did the three of you meet?

Norah: We all met in New York City. The singer songwriter scene downtown is really tight and Sasha and I met pretty early in the 2000s when I first arrived here. Sasha played in my band for the album The Fall as well. We met Cat a little later on and just vibed right away. All three of us live in Brooklyn and have so many friends and musicians in common it’s hard to remember first time we met!

How did the Puss n Boots collaboration come about?

Sasha: Both Norah and I were wanting to learn to play guitar better and created the band basically to play in front of people which is the best way to get better quicker! This was about 8 or 9 years ago. It started as just the two of us playing at a pool hall, playing under various funny names to try and stay under the radar. It was fun and we’d play songs we loved and little by little, it got better and better, until we felt comfortable asking Cat to join us and starting to add originals to the covers. It continued to be something fun we’d do whenever all 3 of us were in town and after a while we started doing larger gigs in actual clubs rather than just bars and pool halls!

No Fools, No Fun features seven covers, including a Neil Young cover and one by Rodney Crowell, which Johnny Cash also sung. Were these classics daunting to tackle?

Norah: Not really. Each of the songs were brought by one of the band members and was a song they just loved and knew inside and out. We have also been lucky enough to meet a lot of these artists and they’re all so nice and cool. That makes it a lot less daunting for sure when you know the song so well that you don’t even have to learn it!

There’s definitively an iconic ‘Americana’ vibe to the record, as well as some country and rockabilly. Was this conscious?

Sasha: Not a lot about this project is super conscious! While we all grew studying jazz, we all also absorbed a lot of country, soul, singer songwriter music, classic rock, rockabilly, etc. This project wasn’t really consciously assembled so much as simply grew out of the live shows we were doing, so the vibe of songs really matched the vibe of the places we were playing and the kinds of music we were all listening too, discovering or re-discovering over the last 8 or 9 years.

Norah, what was it like making the transition to recording and performing a three-piece after so many years as a solo artist?

Norah: everything I’ve done in my career is about collaboration and changing things up. I’ve been super lucky to be able to work with so many different artists and bands so while people consider me a solo artist, I’ve always thought of myself as a leader of a band. The difference here, similar to a group like The Little Willies which I’ve also moonlighted with, is it very much a democratic situation and each member had an equal voice, and that’s great for me..

By the look of some of your previous performances together, it appears as though the three of you have a lot of fun together on stage. Is this true?

Catherine: This band is all about focusing on music being fun. No pressure, no deadlines. It’s just a big ol’ bro-down up there and we love that the audience can be a part of it. That’s why we felt we had to have some of the live songs on the album so that we could include some of that loose, fun thing on the album too. We have a ball every time we play!

Will No Fools, No Fun be a special one-off, or are you planning any future releases?

Norah: not sure. We really didn’t plan this one!

No Fools, No Fun is out now through Universal Music.



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