Catherine ‘Cat’ Guirguis is a fiery metal enthusiast who also happens to run 24-hour music hire service, Melbourne Backline. She had a chat with us at CRAMP about her business and what it’s like to be female in the music industry.
So for those not in the know, what do you do over at Melbourne Backline?
“We hire out musical gear like guitars, amplifiers, keyboards AND drum kits. We also deliver all over Melbourne and even interstate. We find hiring is the preferred solution for many touring artists and agencies. Often this is purely to avoid having to travel with bulky and fragile equipment. Because we can offer top of the range gear at affordable rates, it’s a no-brainer.”
What sets Melbourne Backline apart from other businesses?
“We have all the gear, on demand 24/7! Melbourne backline is the first company of its kind to offer a 24/7 hire service. This is to meet the unique needs of the music industry. After all, most live music events happen in the moonlit hours.”
“It's not unusual for us to get frantic calls from artists needing urgent help, their own amplifier having eaten shit during sound check. As a musician myself, it was of major importance to be able to provide convenient and affordable option to all musicians. Whether it’s for a recording session, live show, film shoot, or maybe you just need someone to drive your band and equipment back to the airport. Whatever it is, we’ve got you covered.”
“Melbourne Backline also has an enormous selection of both vintage and modern musical instruments available for hire. We cater to the very specific requirements of local and international acts of all genres. We even stock Latin percussion, synthesizers and turntables.”
What’s the best part about working for yourself and running a business?
“You work hard but you play hard. For me, being involved with large tour and festival projects is especially rewarding. I‘m just about to leave for a three-day festival in regional Victoria, it's one of the many events the company works every year. After a while your clients become like family, even our dog Angus has been invited along to come and join the fun.”
“The thing I love the most about owning a business is that you can run it and market it however you see fit. Hence why I use my dog Angus on all our branding – he‘s the first face you see when you visit the warehouse and he often comes along on our deliveries. The clients adore him so much that they tend to get very upset if we show up to a venue without him.”
Can you tell us about your music background? We hear you’ve fronted metal bands in the past?
“Yes, I've been in a few different heavy bands over the years including Black, Horizon, Katabasis, Rise of Avernus and Ritual of Shadows. I do enjoy songwriting and performing, but it's a little quiet on that front while I focus on my business and my fitness goals. I’m actually preparing for my first pole dance competition at the moment.”
The music industry is dominated by dudes. Any advice on sticking at it as a female?
“Thick skin is essential because you do get treated differently. People are not accustomed to seeing females working particularly in the backline and production side of the industry. I find that the best way to overcome these ingrained misconceptions about a female's capabilities is by action.”
“Men tend to feel quite silly for making assumptions after they see me packing down equipment and loading heavy gear into the van. Women are not these fragile little flowers – we can kick some serious arse, so it's never wise to underestimate us.”