Remembering Angela McCluskey: Live on MBE (1995-2010)

Written by Myke Dodge Weiskopf.

Angela McCluskey, formerly of Wild Colonials. Photo credit: KCRW.

KCRW remembers Angela McCluskey, the Scottish-born singer-songwriter who first rose to prominence with her group Wild Colonials, but went on to achieve global recognition as the voice of Télépopmusik’s “Breathe” in 2003. She was 64. 

Wild Colonials formed in 1992 as a quartet including her husband, Paul Cantelon; guitarist Shark; and multi-instrumentalist Scott Roewe. They appeared for the first time on MBE that same year, and subsequently became a regular fixture on the program. The group appeared twice each in 1993 and 1994 before their final appearance in December of 1995.

The group emerged out of a jam session at Hollywood’s Café Beckett and gigged regularly at Molly Malone’s. A Tuesday-night residency at Café Largo helped secure the band a contract with DGC/Geffen (which also followed the group’s first appearance on MBE). After two well-regarded albums, Fruit of Life (1994) and This Can’t Be Life (1996), the group fizzled out in the process of extricating themselves from their record contract.

McCluskey ended up in Paris, where she connected with trio Télépopmusik in 2001. Although initially reluctant, McCluskey warmed to the idea of having a Massive Attack-style guest vocalist role. The runaway success of their 2003 song “Breathe” culminated in a dual UK/US chart hit, a Grammy nomination, and a memorable television ad for Mitsubishi.

McCluskey’s solo career began in 2004 with The Things We Do, for which she appeared on MBE with Nic Harcourt that year. She returned to MBE with Jason Bentley in 2010. McCluskey continued releasing her own music alongside a long and fruitful career as a vocalist/collaborator with artists ranging from Kendrick Lamar to Paul Oakenfold. Her final release was the 2021 EP, Between Ourselves.


Angela McCluskey on Morning Becomes Eclectic, 2/19/2010
Angela McCluskey returns to KCRW to chat with host Jason Bentley and perform songs from her 2009 album, You Could Start A Fight In An Empty House.

Angela McCluskey on Morning Becomes Eclectic, 7/14/2004
Angela McCluskey makes her KCRW debut as a solo artist (with band) live in the studio with host Nic Harcourt, playing songs from her album, The Things We Do.

Wild Colonials on Morning Becomes Eclectic, 12/7/1995
For their sixth and final KCRW on-air session, Wild Colonials perform live in the studio with host Chris Douridas.

Robbie Robertson on Morning Becomes Eclectic, 5/6/2011
In conversation with Jason Bentley, Robbie Robertson discusses working with Angela McCluskey on his 2011 solo album, How To Become Clairvoyant.