It is hard to believe that we discovered The Cat Magic only a few weeks ago. We loved their third single ‘Just The Way’ so much that we featured it as one of the best 9 songs of the week and this week the song made a debut on our weekly chart.
‘Just The Way’ is a song that you will be spinning on repeat without even noticing it.INDIE TOP 39
We are thrilled to have an opportunity to get to know a 4 piece-band a little better. The Cat Magic describe their sound as warm, melodic and poppy with emphasis on groove and unusual structures.
Tell us about your journey until the release of your latest single ‘Just The Way’
Laurence: The band has been together for just over two-ish years in which time we’ve played a bunch of shows and released a set of singles. We were all musicians for the most part of our lives and long time friends since nursery (our mums used to hang out when we were two-year-olds). Funnily enough, we never thought of forming a band until one evening where we hung out became intoxicated, played the drum kit too loud, got a noise complaint and had that lightbulb moment.
We never thought of forming a band until one evening where we hung out became intoxicated, played the drum kit too loud, got a noise complaint and had that lightbulb moment.The Cat Magic
Alexei: Once we’d got over the hangovers the idea to form a band persisted and we got to work.
Laurence: ‘Just The Way’ is the first of our 2020 singles to go out and even though it was recorded earlier this year, COVID-19 meant that we weren’t able to get into the studio to mix it until very recently. Finally being able to get in the studio to mix it after such a rough lockdown was really amazing.
Stefan: Took a few train journeys across the country to meet up for practice and recording sessions to put down the rhythm section, and then the world shut down and we didn’t get to hear the final mixes for months. This track is the culmination of months of hard work and we hope it shows.
What does ‘Just The Way’ means to you?
Laurence: As the song came together, it was quite apparent that section-wise, it flits between these two phases: tension, then melodic and euphoric.
At the time of writing this track, there was an argument going on that I could hear through the wall and I really liked the idea of a Dr Jekyll song that reflected the fighting, posturing and even bluffing that boils over to a point when someone suddenly realises “hey why am I acting like this?! I’d actually be really f**ked without this person, maybe I should check my pride”.
Ultimately the song’s message is that we’re not here forever so in spite of all the stupid conflicts, insecurities and competitions we have with people, it’s ok to drop your ego and admit that something/someone actually means a lot to you.THE CAT MAGIC
Alexei: I was really far from home, camping in the woods when Laurence sent his first sketch of the song over. I remember it taking ages to download over awful 3G network. This immediately had a different energy to other ideas we’d worked on. I fell asleep in my tent that night listening to it on repeat, trying to suss out all the guitar parts.
Where do your ideas for songs come from?
Laurence: It’s really a mix of two things happening at once. I’ll pick up on things in everyday life like how people interact together in certain situations, what’s happening in the world or something I’ve interpreted. I’m always experimenting with new sounds, riffs, melodies and stuff like that so sometimes the musical character of something is enough to align with what I’m thinking about which will then go on to form the DNA of a song. It’s like this weird non-linear mental mishmash process.
Music to us is a magical force with infinite possibilities that have the power to get a hold of people in a unique way.
What are your biggest musical influences?
Laurence: Frank Ocean, Kevin Parker, Al Green, Bill Withers, John Frusciante, Thom York, Alt-J, The Beach Boys and loads of Laurel Canyon summer pop stuff.
Stefan: Queens of the Stone Age, King Gizzard, BADBADNOTGOOD, Vulfpeck, Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Alexei: Nirvana, The Mountain Goats, Neil Young, Ed o’Brien, Led Zeppelin, Californication-era Chilli’s.
What does your creative process look like?
Laurence: It usually starts with Logic, my Prophet, a mic and my Strat in a puddle of wires on the carpet. I’ll always be recording ideas and riffs that have an identity to them or a potential of going into something cool. I’ll get inside them a bit, build them out, knock them down and rebuild them to a point where the theme/vibe and direction of the song just clicks.
It can take ages to get into the zone and I often end up chucking 9 out of 10 things out. When it clicks I just go into tunnel vision and am so focused on the song that I don’t want to think about or do anything else. Sometimes I go on long walks repeatedly listening to a 20-second bounce of an idea just so that I just get totally indoctrinated with the feel of it. The aim is to use drum machines, record in bass parts and scrappy vocals to produce a full demo. The next part is floating it out and getting opinions on it. We’ll then all get into a rehearsal space together and flesh out the parts, getting samples loaded and working the song out for live performance which is the best bit as the song comes alive.
Do you experience any of the challenges as an independent band working in the music industry today?
Laurence: I think with the advent of digital distribution, social media and to some extent the ease at which music can be produced, there’s a lot of competition to cut through. We definitely feel that lots of blogs, promoters and local scenes are very tribal and don’t want to know about anyone else other than what they’re familiar or already connected with, a bit like a club. This can make the job of getting booked quite hard especially if you are a smaller band doing everything yourself.
Alexei: The DIY aspect of it can be a lot of work and it’s the kind of work that needs diligence and attention. As intensely music-focused people, worrying about social media posts, press packs and all of that stuff was never part of the plan but we’ve had to learn. We didn’t even get a Facebook page up until we’d played together for a year because we were like “Facebook, pffft”. We soon found out that when promoters and blogs wanted to link to us we had nothing to give them… I’m glad we were focussed enough on making music to overlook this stuff in the beginning because it shows us we were working on the right thing. It’s been a whole new set of skills to learn when it comes to releasing music and helping it find an audience.
What piece of advice you’d give to other artists who are at the beginning of their journey?
Laurence: As we’re probably still in that beginning phase, I’m not sure if there are buckets of “time tested” advice we can bestow. Saying that I think what we’ve learned is that no one starts out as a big dog and that there are no shortcuts. It takes time to get tight, get comfortable with playing live and establish a sound let alone build a reputation and a trickle of fans.
Our belief is to just be consistent, always strive to get better and keep loving it!THE CAT MAGIC
Alexei: When we started getting offered headline shows we had no idea on the etiquette. We still have a certain naivety when approaching gigs as we just want to turn up and play a well-rehearsed set. Often we’ve found ourselves sharing bills with punk bands who ended up throwing their instruments down the stairs. Then we arrive on stage to close out the evening with our melodic indie-pop. We kept being asked back, so must have done something right!
How would you define success in the music business?
Laurence: We’ll know that we’ve made it when we all buy those really expensive juicers and live happily ever after… I think that you always need to be mindful that this splits both ways. Succeeding in music to us is probably someone that we don’t know listening to our track and saying that it’s their favourite new tune. On the other hand, success in music as a business would probably mean making enough money to cover our touring and recording expenses with enough for us to live on and sustain our activities. Real success in today’s music industry is a lot more modest in form than what a lot of people would expect.
Real success in today’s music industry is a lot more modest in form than what a lot of people would expect.Laurence » THE CAT MAGIC
Do you think there’s anything artists or fans can do to support each other during these strange times of COVID-19?
Alexei: Until gigs are back in format that make people want to book and see smaller artists, it’s hard to say. I’m worried only the giants will be able to go back on the road and sell tickets. Many bands don’t produce physical media to sell their music so it’s more important now than ever to stream everything you can, explore weird corners of Spotify and let these artists know their music is needed to get people out the other side of this.
What have you got planned for 2020 and have any of your plans been impacted?
Laurence: Pre pandemic we had strung up quite a nice little summer of festival dates and were looking forward to eating chicken slices in a cramped hot van for weeks on end but like so many artists, that will have to wait. We’re taking the time to prepare for when the gig floodgates open, whenever that will be.
Alexei: We’ve actually got a really exciting slew of newly mastered tracks that haven’t seen the light of day so we’re definitely hyped to be releasing them over the course of the next few months. We’re also taking the opportunity to just play together and have fun which is really where it starts for us. There’s a constant cycle of new ideas being written, learned, played, recorded and released so we’ll always be busy and eager to better our craft.
Our next single “Dovetail Me” is out on all streaming services on Friday August 28th!