Catnyp is powered by HKS: multi-instrumentalist-writer-producer. As such, Catnyp retains a tight focus and sound; Catnyp is whoever HKS is working with at any given moment (or, often the case, solo). Check out videos, recent social media posts, photographs and other content here. You'll see some reference to The Beatles, Paul McCartney and Wings, Radiohead, Weezer, Pixies, Nirvana, XTC, Elvis Costello, The Three Nicks (Nick Cave, Nick Drake, Nick Lowe), Claypool Lennon Delirium, Beck, Squeeze, Rickenbacker, Hofner, basses, 12-string guitars, singer songwriter stuff, photography, poetry, and other ingredients inspiring Eccentric modern classic that makes Catnyp.

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Two more in the can, instrumentally. Catnyp IIII worming its way forward. 

Easter Weekend saw two “problem child” tracks worked through. These two tracks, working titles “Jack” and “Pop Em” were intended for an EP in 2019-2020 but got put on the back burner. UK drummer Emily Dolan Davies (The Darkness, BBC) played some great arrangements but I was struggling to make them song-shaped in the Catnyp style. After a lot of slicing and dicing and abandoning my quest for safe verse-verse-chorus-solo-verse-chorus territory, they opened up a bit. Jack begged for some sloppy, raunchy distorted slide and chunky chords and lots of dynamic ducks and dives; Pop Em went all surfy with the Jaguar tracing two different surf guitar lines and lots of Pixies-type jagged edges.

They both move well and sound like they’ll explore the edges of the harder sound for Catnyp IIII.

Bombay & Butterfly is a sweet acoustic fingerpicking composition (my first, really) that was above my pay grade and skill level so has taken a few months to nail. I’ve got a usable take on my Epiphone Texan, but when my new Eastman E10D gets back from George, my trusty luthier, I’m pretty sure it’ll replace the existing track. The Eastman is an unexpectedly stunning copy of a Martin D18, the top end Chinese guitar you can buy and it shows.

Melodies are actually pretty well formed for about half of the tracks as well as nascent lyrical ideas, but that’s the next hill I need to take.

#Music #NewMusic #SingerSongwriter #EccentricModernClassic #TheBeatles #PaulMcCartney #StudioLife

Excited & apprehensive. 

I took a couple of days off from the studio to rest my ears and restore some creative energy.

I went back in and took stock.

Of 16 tracks currently in production, in terms of sound and production, 6-10 are easily among the best pieces I have ever produced. Another 2-3 need some TLC. And 2-3 are not too bad. That’s a startlingly solid foundation for a 12 track record; I’ve never had this level of confidence in “how things are sounding” this early in the process. Given the fact the survival ratio of demos : tracks in production has only been about 3:1.

Limiting one’s options can open up expansive creative vistas.

A Wise Guy

The surprise one that has me most excited is an old demo from about 1989 or so. It had a pretty tricky drum part and unfortunately the MIDI drums were struggling to land the notes where they need to be. And in the moment I didn’t have the patience to go in and move 200 notes around.

I decided to make it sound more like a drum machine and started experimenting with cheesy drum sets. Then popped an obnoxious funky (for me) bass part on it. That released the bats; the song is going to be out of control good IMHO. And I was right on the edge of binning it.

I was talking to my friend as we ran through falling snow the other day. We were talking about dissecting one’s successes. We agreed that the biggest breakthroughs—and even the most educational failures—come from being fearlessly creative. It’s so easy to be safe as an artist; I see it around me all the time across all expressive media. Pretty much everything interesting and remarkable I’ve created has its genesis in a “what if…” moment or the fruit of a happy accident manifested by going off the edge of the map.

So it’s a strange paradox. I started this project wanting to do something “new and different” while at the same time setting a vision for something closer to where I started, quirky pop-rock with simpler arrangements and purer tones. Interestingly, “less is more” is also true in a creative sense on this occasion. Limiting one’s options can open up expansive creative vistas.

Progress report: Catnyp IIII 

We’ve actually had a fair few new signups to the mailing list, so thanks to you who have joined up recently! Free album download on signup at Catnyp.com

Working titles only at this stage, I’m afraid. No real melodies or lyrics completely formed as yet, but core drums-bass-guitars down on the following:

Harvey

Me Caravan

Always Hope

Sharp White Teeth

Saccharine

Zepp

EZ

Neil

Cat & Blackbird

Bombay & Butterfly – my first fingerpicking composition. Certainly not masterful, but easily could be used as an Etude… Inspired by McCartney III.

  • Epic (collaboration with The Dixie Narcos, Emily Dolan Davies on drums) – WIP
  • Jack/ Pop Song (Collaboration with Emily Dolan Davies)
  • Roberta (collaboration with Amaya Levels)
  • Old demos yet to be tracked: Check It Out, The Quacking Dog, Go Away)
  • Snippets to develop: AS4, AS8

Boring studio news – managed to upgrade to a tube preamp (UA 610) from the already quite good solid state one (UA 110) and that has helped move the whole thing ahead in terms of the overall sound I wanted. I also finally wired the Avantone monitors to the Radio Shack MPA-250 amp so if I can make these sound good on that, it’ll sound good on anything. That combo is as harsh and unforgiving as I ave ever heard.

Catnyp IIII update. 

The tracking continues to a rather loose plan of taking rough demos, making them vaguely song-shaped, playing an acoustic guide then laying down drums. Some interesting things emerging—by and large sonically purer than previous releases if somewhat more pop-y, ballad-y and predicable.

There are some solid songs starting to take shape as we chip the stone away from the musical statue trapped inside.

My tinnitus is raging and I don’t know what to do. It’s very strange to have relatively good hearing with some normal damage and age-related loss, but a constant high pitched whistle 24/7.

Catnyp IIII. 

With The Black Cat Trilogy now firmly in the rear view mirror, it feels like time for a fresh start.

I had a few projects on the back burners — Ainsworth Strange, intended to be a collaboration with another artist that fizzled (well, I let it fizzle). Enthusiasm matters. We’ll leave it at that. I also have a promising collaboration with Emily Dolan Davis (intended to be a short Catnyp EP) that consisted of drums and some bass ideas smacked down that was derailed by the move out to Portland and back to Montana. I’d also written about 20 loose little chord progression-ditties on Music Maker that had some legs. Then there were the 30 demos from the late 80s-early 90s I’d dumped into the computer with an eye on revisiting the “germs” (ahem) of my past. Some were surprisingly good. Others … less so.

So the choice was, rack up two or three projects and either work on them in parallel, or smash one at a time. Or was it? Frankly, time is limited and focus is everything.

So: all of the above are in the hopper for Catnyp IIII. It will be a full length album, 10-16 tracks. It’ll be more pop-rock, it will be less layered, it will have a bit more of the old quirky-joy-tongue-in-cheek of those 80s-90s demos. Tones will be simpler but carefully crafted. I’m taking a course just on using EQ to help my mixes.

Oh yeah — I’m playing drums on the tracks Emily isn’t. I started in late September. Good news: My timing is not bad and I play to a click with ease (that’s the bass player in me). Bad news: I am very slow and grind the gears when I change things up. But, that’s just practicing and time. Keep it 2/3 or 4/4 and I can just about do it (with a little quantizing, of course). There’s something pretty cool about playing bass and guitar to your own drumming – talk about knowing how to lock in to the minutiae.

Other changes: Rickenbackers are going into their cases. This’ll be jazz bass, Jaguar, Telecaster and maybe Gretsch territory unless circumstances demand otherwise.

Three songs are well on their way and there is a confidence and comfort to be gleaned when a little snippet of an idea on Music Memo just turns effortlessly into a pure pop song with all the right parts in all the right places.

Principles at play here – work fast. Keep it simple. Make every tone work. Write from the heart, write fast, don’t second guess. Act like studio time is the most precious resource on the planet. Because, really, it is. This is what it is about.

Henderson & The Black Cat 

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This is our third album, released August 21, 2020 online. We’ll be making it available on CD in a few weeks’ time too. If you download it or buy the CD, we’ll send you the fantastic insert booklet (20 pages, 6″ x 6″ in glorious color) illustrated by the amazing graphic novelist, David Jesus Vignolli.

You’ll be able to buy the booklet for $5 too, separately.

The album features seven singles, all accessible at Catnyp.com and on various platforms.

It’s the third and finally installment of The Black Cat Trilogy, freeing up headspace for a few projects already clogging the pipeline.

We also have a new studio also dropping into my yard on August 20 — it’ll provide a great creative space with mixing desk, 4 track reel-to-reel, mics etc. And it has a bunk bed above the closet – vocal booth section. I’ll post some photos soon.

Finally, we welcome Ian Weckler to the band on guitar. He’s an immensely talented player wielding a slab of a Telecaster when he’s not on his SG or Danelectro. Big things ahead … we might even have found a drummer, too.

 

 

Seven singles. 

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“Henderson & The Black Cat” was originally recorded at Elstree Hill Studios (London) with some additional recording at OneCat Studio (Brixton) (drums, cello) under the title “Anhedonia.”

It’s currently slated to escape in all of its glory later in 2019 – still waiting on getting the artwork all completed. There’s only ten tracks so most of the album is already out there on the online platforms.

Still, it means that the third and final installment of The Black Cat Trilogy – our first three albums – completes a more or less decade long musical journey down some well-trod paths.

What’s next? Completing the still work in progress EP with Emily Dolan… getting the live act together … and then doing an all new album of all new music, ideally with all new musicians.

Catnyp marches on, to a ditty of the soul.

The Black Cat Trilogy. 

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“Henderson & The Black Cat” is our third album and completes a journey I like to think of as “The Black Cat Trilogy” — songs with broadly similar inspiration and genesis recorded over a span of time in my life.

But it’s time to clear the pipes. “Henderson & The Black Cat” will be out in NOVEMBER 2019!

Single release schedule:

1.  Falling – Friday, October 4th

2. Sweet Petunia – Friday, October 11th

3. Mystery Muse – Friday, October 18th 

4. Anhedonia – AND VIDEO! – Friday, October 25th

5. The Wood – Thursday, October 31st for Hallowe’en!

6. A Perfect Man – Friday, November 8th

7. Sex With Susan – Friday, November 15th

The album itself then drops on – Friday,  November 22nd or 29th tbc

Artwork is by David Jesus Vignolli and we hope to release the album as a digipack but also make the lyrics booklet by this amazing graphic novelist available as a standalone product.

 

#newmusic #eccentricmodernclassic #arnamiller #davidvignolli #newwave #classicrock

Arrival Portland. 

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This is the first week we feel actually like we have “settled” in Portland after a horrendously stressful clusterfuck of a move that saw us living in a Motel 6 with our cat for five days and having to simultaneous rent and shuttle three moving trucks to contain our possessions in while we waited. Not fun but a good story. Combined with a new day job, there wasn’t a lot of physical, spiritual or emotional energy to invest in music.

At last, though, the workstation is set up in a more or less usable format and I’ve starting working out my instrumental and vocal chops again. Very rusty. And I played back the Emily Dolan collaboration. It’s very much work in progress but the tracks are actually sounding phenomenal. And I’m releasing “Henderson & The Black Cat” shortly.

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It will feature a beautifully illustrated printed booklet done by the amazing David Jesus Vignolli. You should definitely check out his graphic novels. The album was recorded at Ellstree Hill Studios in London and forms part of what I consider to be a trilogy – these first three albums. They share a lot in common. Probably would have made a good double album.

I’m putting out feelers for musicians here in Portland to work with and get the live show up and sputtering after promising attempts in Missoula. I’ll definitely get out and do a few acoustic gigs and/or open mic in the coming months.

So that, plus pursuing licensing opportunities and getting tracks all metatagged and formatted for that effort, are what is on the horizon.