66 - catbeats
Hello music people 👋
Today in the spotlight, catbeats
He's has been a musician since 1993, starting with a punk band, and then transitioning to electronic music, particularly chiptune. Then shifted to groovebox-oriented music creation around 10 years ago and hasn’t stopped since 🎶
Read Time: 9 minutes 📰
Oh geez, too many... but some usually within reach (in no particular order):
YouRock™ - MIDI Guitar
Hohner - Headless Bass
A bunch of guitars
Computer with a bunch of UAD and Klevgrand plug-ins
Apple - iPad mini
A 3U Arturia rack with select modules for ambient exploration
Various cat tarot cards
... and more!
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Who are you and what is your relationship with music?
I'm catbeats and live in Sweden.
I've been a musician since 1993 starting with the punk band Frodus on guitar/vocals. Even back then I would enjoy electronic music but leaning towards more ambient/left-field stuff at the time such as: FSOL, Microstoria, Mouse On Mars, Brothomstates. Eventually I got into recording myself in order to record my punk/garage projects and I started jumping into electronic music on discovery of the Nanoloop CD compilation while wandering Berlin.
From there I got obsessed with chiptune music. This naturally transitioned with a dive into Ableton Live in 2008. I purchased a Sidstation from Elektron around that time too and that was my only hardware synth for a while bridging my chiptune obsessions. I released electro and synthwave back then as Triobelisk and Tanimura Midnight respectively.
Eventually over the years I would burn out of computer music due to my work as a UX Designer. Computers felt like work because of it's day-context for me. I shifted to groovebox oriented music creation around 10 years ago with the first OP-1 hooking me.
From there I jumped deep into G.A.S. rediscovering Elektron with Digitakt and such and now I have too many groove boxes. Though my current excuse is that I ended up working as a Product Designer at Swedish electronic gear manufacturer on the west-coast a few years back — so work and music passion has combined recently.
My main income is from work as Product Designer of course and always has been. Anything from music just goes back into gear, pressing physical media, etc...
Which piece of equipment in your studio is essential to your production process?
OP-1 & My cats (technically one thing for me, hah).
What is the least expensive piece of gear that gave you the most results?
Casio VL-Tone 1.
Walk us through your process for creating and producing music.
Usually starts with a beat of some sort and just improv on top + trail and error. Though sometimes it can start with just an image in my head (a scene or theme) that I want to create a soundtrack to.
What is a production technique that you always come back to?
If I keep on coming back to stuff and having habits I usually switch the piece of gear I am making music on for a bit or switch the input method.
Recently, it is using Beat Scholar to create a beat and recording the loop into my OP-1 Field.
As Da Real Dibia$e once said "Never fall in love with one workflow.".
How would you explain your style?
Cute beats, nintendo beats, therapy beats....
catbeats was created in 2018 as an escape when the world and news cycle seemed to be on fire and very negative. It was a ritual of me sitting on the balcony surrounded by my two cats creating a happy-world and putting something overtly kind in the world.
It seemed to help me and I'm grateful that it connects to people and they feel that energy through the music and surrounding world.
Perhaps my style can be described also as anxiety-reducing chillwave with a background of retro video game music.
What is a big challenge you have as an artist?
Organizing all my songs and creations and deciding what collection of tunes to put out.
Sometimes I sit on things too long and then get unsure — this is natural but I try and have a theme for each collection of tunes to help find where they should go.
I believe in the lost art of the album so this framework definitely helps me when diving into my bounced files to determine what fits.
Has building a hardware setup changed your perspective on music or life in general?
I like how the machine influences you as much as you are influencing it to create your music.
Different workflows bring out different results with how they guide you and I love that.
One tip on how to spark creativity?
Don't get too comfortable.
If you are stuck try another approach. It can be anything from don't create for a while and just play video games, walk in the forest, etc... and get refreshed or just try a different piece of gear/software.
Stay fresh, no pressure!
A book, movie, article, or album that has inspired you?
Sun Ra biography!
Taught me that there are no mistakes, just create and don't think too much about it. So many great quotes from that book: "Artistic creation involves a search for a zone, a space, in which to create, an area open to imagination and revelation" , "... every creative musical composition [is] a tone poem"!
Anything else you'd like to say?
In stark contrast to catbeats I have started a dungeon synth project with a friend called Corpse Gnomes which is super fun and different. That has me exploring more atmospheric sounds and wild modular gear from Error Instruments as a textural layer. It's also great to have a partner in a musical project! And I am a role playing game nerd from my childhood — I still have all my AD&D books and modules, they have traveled the world with me!
Making music today is a strange game as there is this pressure with social media of creating content, pressure to become a synthfluencer, etc…
What I have learned is those strategies while do increase reach they primarily help you on that specific platform you are posting on. The percentage jumping to your music I would surmise isn’t huge. There are no rules in promoting but focus on the goal.
If it’s Spotify or Bandcamp listeners be there. I don’t have many followers on social media but I somehow manage to get my crowdfunds through etc… it’s a bit like that misquote from Field of Dreams - ‘if you build it, they will come'.
Where can people find more of your music and connect with you online?
In Case You Missed It
For jams, knob-twists and pad hitting videos go to G.A.S. Instagram
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