CAT DADDY *onthebass has today premiered his new video for the track titled ‘Catboy Summer’. To be “on the one” refers to the rhythmic structure almost integral to funk music credited to James Brown back in the mid-60s. It was a call for his band to hit on the first beat of a musical measure for emphasis, and there’d be hell to pay if they missed. You needed “the one” to bring the diverse instrumentation within a song together, an action with the equivalent reaction of bringing the audience together in a fervorous and righteous groove. In time, musicians have developed new ways to dance around the one for a different kind of emphasis, but most true funkateers still trace their roots back to “the one.” You can certainly count on CAT DADDY *onthebass to bring us all in “on the one” on his debut EP, “Catboy Summer” and the accompanying music video, available now.
Hailing from Philadelphia, CAT DADDY *onthebass has been making a name for himself well before this first solo effort. Performing bass in no fewer than three groups (MINKA, Lady HD, Taylor Kelly), producing, DJing, and hosting – this cat’s not a one-trick-pony. On “Catboy Summer”, all music and lyrics were written by CAT DADDY *onthebass and almost all of the instruments and vocals are performed by himself, though there are some features and background vocals throughout from a few musician friends. It was mostly recorded at his home, and then professionally mixed and mastered elsewhere. With the sheen and direction these tracks demonstrate, this cat has been cooking for a while.
Distorted guitar may start the EP, but it’s merely serving as the emcee for the main event: The bass guitar. This is most definitely a bassist’s album with the bass front and center in the mix and the songwriting. However, it’s never overpowering or overstated; rather, it propels the songs forward while leading everyone along, just as a solid bassist should do. Lots of hints of P-Funk worship are littered throughout with tasty unison synth freak-out lines, silly skits and cat references, and an overall playful and inviting vibe. You’re invited to this party and “if anybody gets funked, it’s gonna be you.” Stand-out tracks to this reviewer are “Claws” and the title track, the former combining modern synth-pop production with classic synth and slap bass grooves while the latter keeps things four-on-the-floor for a summer bop bound to never make the party stop. As CAT DADDY *onthebass says, “it’s always Catboy Summer in your heart.”
A question you probably answer a lot: What do you like most about cats? And how many do you have?
The same could be said of most animals, but cats are very honest. They are loyal and intentional, and when they need a break they have no issues putting up that boundary. The love and trust of a cat is sacred and must be earned. I have one cat at the moment – my girl Nikki, to whom the 4th track on “Catboy Summer” is dedicated. She is a bit of a solo act and we have a very deep bond. She was a rescue, and giving her a loving home is one of the greatest joys of my life.
What helped you gravitate towards funk music? Was it something you grew up around or something you discovered and developed a fondness toward?
My mom was a disco gal – I definitely grew up with groovy music, and the first CD I ever bought was Daft Punk’s “Discovery”. Later through my own musical exploration I found my way to Prince, Sly, Graham Central Station, The Time, P-Funk, The Gap Band, etc.
What artists have most helped influence you as an artist?
How can I even begin… I tend to gravitate towards multi-faceted musicians that touch many aspects of their work. My top 2 are Prince and Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails. I pay attention to irreverence and theatricality in music and performance. I find myself inspired by cartoonists, actors, comedians. Sometimes you can be inspired by someone’s attitude and approach even if their art is very different from yours.
There’s a gorgeous pink Moon bass on the cover of “Catboy Summer”. What basses do you own and which is the one you grab and play the most?
Thanks for noticing! Larry Graham is my number one influence on bass, and that was what turned me on to Moon basses. I won’t bore everyone with the full list, but I tend to gravitate towards J or P style basses. One fun rarity is a mid-late 70s H.S. Anderson, the company responsible for the “Mad Cat” guitar – like Prince’s famous telecaster. The Bask Bass is on the cover of the single version of “MEOW!” The bass I currently find myself reaching for most often is a very cute P Bass which was built for me by Moon, in a sleek metallic Burgundy Mist.
What’s the most recent thing you did in an act of self-care, whether for yourself or someone else?
I definitely like to take care of myself – Fitness is a big part of my life, as well as skincare, I go to an esthetician. It isn’t always easy to find the time but by taking care of yourself you will have exponentially more joy for others.
What piece of gear have you bought that significantly affected your creativity? (If no gear, just anything in your life that’s affected you creatively.)
Not sure I’d name any specific pieces, but I’ve made a point of incorporating various pedals and outboard gear in my recording process. “Catboy Summer” was primarily recorded at home, by me. I think sometimes when we work “in the box” the options / control can be sort of paralyzing. By having more elements “printed down” with a specific sound you learn to commit to your choices and trust yourself. I used to sort of fear that, but the process of bringing this project to life taught me that when you create boundaries you actually find new possibilities. “The enemy of creativity is the absence of limitation”, or whatever the quote is…
What albums and/or bands have you been really digging recently?
Aside from my funk/punk constants, here are some of my vibes over the last year: Mk.gee, Dijon, Machine Girl, George Clanton, Osees, IDLES, Perfume Genius, Cobra Man, The Pimps of Joytime, Yves Tumor, Charli XCX, Rina Sawayama, The Japanese House, EKKSTACY, Mr.Kitty, Provoker, Drab Majesty, Mareux, some fellow Philadelphians: Thantophobe, and my dear friend Rose Lee… I could keep going!!
What’s one piece of advice you have for other creatives out there, or other catboys?
I think about this one a lot, and it’s the fact that no one REALLY cares. I know that sounds depressing, but let me explain!! We are so inundated with media and information and people have a million things in their own lives to worry about. If you are letting your perception of what other people think stop you from doing your thing, please remember that they don’t care that much. Finish your project, do what makes you happy, and let it out there.
Now, obviously people care. You can cut through the noise with consistency, talent. But I believe that the best way to get support is to give it. Take a genuine interest in others and support your scene. It doesn’t cost anything to uplift others, and it doesn’t take anything away from you.
What’s next for you musically? Where can people see and/or hear you?
Catboy Summer is only the beginning. I am hard at work writing and recording, and there will be more new music very soon! I am also looking forward to playing some Cat Daddy shows in the new year.
Any closing musings?
I am endlessly grateful for the opportunity to share a little bit about myself and Catboy Summer. I wouldn’t have been able to do this without my incredibly talented friends and collaborators. I love you all, so very much. Thank you!
Featured image by Luda Ronky.