Interview: Catherine Hunsinger of Rex Darling

By Rachel Minetti

In anticipation for WUSC’s first live show of the decade, I had the opportunity to interview the lovely Catherine Hunsinger, the vocalist for Rex Darling. Curiosity Coffee will host Rex Darling and Lleau, both local to Columbia, on Wednesday January 29th at 7pm.

WUSC: Tell us a bit about Rex Darling – how did y’all get started? 

Catherine Hunsinger: John and I started playing together after bonding over mutual music preferences and our general nerdiness for music history. Despite that he is best known for his metal background, he is actually a classically trained guitarist and can play some seriously sweet Spanish melodies. I am also classically trained, having studied opera in college and was facing the challenge of unlearning the restricted and highly regimented structure of that sound… so we banded together to help each other create sounds we’d both been wanting to, but were not. We started playing fairly stylized covers at Lula Drake Wine Parlour and rapidly spiraled into writing and recording an album which added the instrumentation of a full band (and subsequently turned us into a full band). And now we’re here!

WUSC: Can you describe the band’s sound? 

CH: Oh jeez. There’s got to be a joke here… “What happens when a metal guitarist and an opera singer start a band together?” We’re honestly a bag of mixed nuts, because this project has been a journey across the musical playground for us, exploring all types of moods and genres. Overall, you can expect to hear primarily acoustic pieces which are highly melodic, with dance beats, and charged jazzy vocals. Right now we’re resting somewhere between indie folk/pop/jazz genres, but I encourage you to just ride the wave with us. 

WUSC: What can we expect from this week’s show at Curiosity Coffee?

CH: John and I will be performing a stripped down version of our upcoming album, which we’re expecting to release in the Spring of 2020. I’ll definitely employ T-Rex arms (hence the band name), and John will probably surprise all of us with some newly inspired guitar lines laced in with our regular sounds. We’ll also be performing one or two pieces never heard live! 

WUSC: You’ve been a part of the Columbia music scene for quite some time, do you think time and place have an impact on a musician’s sound? If so, how has Columbia seeped into the way you create music?

CH: I think our sounds as musicians are constantly influenced by all of the things, people, and energies we surround ourselves with. This album was primarily written in Columbia and Charleston and is absolutely influenced by, and occasionally named for, specific moments and experiences within them. Working as a musician in Columbia has also been so beautifully collaborative, it’s impossible not to be inspired and influenced by the artists here. This community is a masterpiece, which I’m honored to be a part of. 

WUSC: Who have been some musical influences for you and how have they shaped the way you play, perform, and create?

CH: More than anything, I want to change the world through music – so, lately I’m inspired by the protest songs of the 60s, the social activists who put aside their heart songs and wrote for the unsung voices instead. I also find myself particularly inspired by contemporary women who want to change the world with their music, like Ibeyi, Jessie Reyez, and Brandi Carlile who currently sing about world issues and social activism. 
When it comes down to it, I’m a sap for nearly all music. Putting your heart into audible form is not easy… so I find myself inspired by, and shaped by, all of it. 

You can check out Rex Darling on Instagram.

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