Ask Raleigh expatriate Kat Robichaud the best and worst thing about her time on “The Voice” last year, and she has a ready answer.
“The best thing about it was the performing – and the clothes,” she says with a laugh. “We got to keep most of what we wore, the stuff they didn’t rent. But the performing was an incredible adrenaline rush to sing for millions of people every week and I loved that. The show takes care of you, you’re in the spotlight and you get paid. It was a fun way to make a living for a year.
“And the worst part,” she continues, “is that you feel really big sometimes but also really small sometimes. The show was good to me, but the Internet trolls were kinda crazy. They were mostly women who didn’t like my short shorts or the outfits where you could – gasp – see my back. So I just wrote a song about it, ‘Apple Pie and a Knife,’ where I was the knife.”
Robichaud, 30, got used to extreme reactions as the “rocker girl” of the NBC singing-competition show’s 2013 cast, in which she made the top-10 before being voted off last November. And even though she didn’t win, it left her with enough of a profile to fuel a semi-huge Kickstarter fundraising campaign, in which 880 people donated more than $42,000 (more than double her goal).
Robichaud used the money to record an album, “Kat Robichaud and the Darling Misfits,” at Pittsboro’s Manifold Recording, and it should be out sometime in the next few months. In the interim, she left Raleigh for San Francisco, moving there with her husband (who works at a biotech startup). Along with assembling a team for her album’s release, Robichaud has been singing anywhere and everywhere she can – such as with a David Bowie tribute band called Church of the Silver Sacred Sexual, whose performances are like church services in which Bowie lyrics serve as doctrine ( “Can I get a wham-bam?” “Thank you, m’am!”).
For one night, Robichaud will be back in her old hometown to play a Wednesday night set at Slim’s in downtown Raleigh – showing off songs from her album and also telling a story or two. It’s a smaller room than Robichaud would have played with her old cover band, The Design, but that’s fine by her.
“All I want is to be a working touring musician, playing my own music,” she says. “I was over playing covers years before The Design broke up. Don’t get me wrong, it could be fun singing other people’s songs, and some nights were great. Other nights, we’d play and people did not give a (expletive) about anything but drinking, dancing, hook up or maybe getting thrown out for fighting. So I finally realized you can’t do both covers or originals. Ultimately you have to devote your time to one or the other.”
To that end, “Darling Misfits” is a stylish and highly theatrical effort steeped in ’70s glam rock and its descendants, everyone from Bowie and Marilyn Manson to Amanda Palmer.
“It’s nothing at all like what’s on the radio now, but it’s awesome and I’m really proud of it,” Robichaud says. “I’m not trying to appeal to everybody. In middle school, I was the kid who never felt like I fit in. Now, the outpouring from little girls who have reached out to say my music made them happy – that means something because I needed that once, too.
“It will be out when everything is ready,” Robichaud concludes. “I don’t want to make the Kickstarter backers have to wait, but I think they’re gonna be blown away. I’ve just got to make sure it’s put out in a smart and effective way, with a team that can make it fly. A musician friend from L.A. told me, ‘Don’t give up before the miracle happens.’ So I won’t.”