Team Cat Food have been winning the hearts of feline lovers with their brand of ambient house and kitty-related imagery since they started releasing music under the unusual name a couple of years ago. They have emerged from their bedroom studios to entertain audiences at the Chronophonium Festival and bFM Summer Series. And they are no strangers to the airwaves with their tracks 'Time Convenience' and 'Don't Doubt' getting decent airplay on the bNet.
This week saw the Auckland duo put out a third collection of cuts, under the snappy title Bag of Tracks. It's made up of six beautifully formed songs that prove the pair have a real knack for making soulful electronic music. A particular favourite from the album is 'Lowdown' which borrows from the well-known Boz Scaggs song of the same name.
We got in touch with Team Cat Food to ask about the new album and their music manufacturing methods. And in true team spirit, they answered together. Read the interview below and check out Bag of Tracks at the end...
So, who are Team Cat Food?
We are called Liam Kendall and Eammon Logan.
How did you end up making music together?
We went to high school together in Wellington and became friends through listening to ambient and electronic music together. That album 'From Here We Go Sublime' by The Field had just come out which we listened to a lot. Eventually we wanted to make some of our own so we started a band called the Story Of Iceland, you could probably still find it on Myspace but under our second name Cloud Forest.
How does Bag of Tracks differ from your previous releases?Its probably our most upbeat release. We have been listening to a lot of deep house and UK garage so they are pretty heavy influences.
Are there any themes tying the album together?
We like music that has that nostalgic, romantic vibe so I guess those are the general themes, but each track has its own feeling. We don't necessarily decide what the themes are before the tracks are made, we just let them develop naturally.
Hearing your employment of Boz Scagg’s ‘Lowdown’ was a real treat, what made that sample stand out for you guys?
Just that indescribable feeling that you get when you hear that bass groove.
How much of your music is sampled versus organically written music?
It’s probably about half-and-half but we try to blur the line so you can't necessarily tell what is sampled and what is played by us. Sometimes we base a track around a sample and build up the song over that, other times we just start with a chord progression or drum beat and layer samples on top. Neither of us are singers so we use a lot of vocal sampling to make it more "commercially viable".
Are there any musicians that influence the way you make music?
The interesting thing about electronic music is that you often don't know how the tracks were made. A lot of what we do is trying to imitate other artists sounds without actually knowing how they did it and finding our own process through that. Building upon what has already been done whilst still retaining our own take on the sound.
How does the creative process usually pan out between the two of you?
We both work on music in our own time and bring it to the team meetings as well as writing songs together in an afternoon or evening. One positive aspect of using the computer as your instrument is having being able to arrange a song while still jamming it out.
It must be hard to stop tinkering with songs that you are working on sometimes, how do you decide when a track is finished and ready to go out into the world?
This is the benefit of having someone else to communicate with while working on songs. Both of us had similar experiences with writing music on our own, getting lost in infinite tinkering. This is why we decided to team up, having someone else to say "that's done lets move on" is really useful to the progress of the music.
How do you decide what tracks will go on an album?
Usually we have a lot of tracks floating around between us and eventually some stand out tracks stick together and become a release. We have countless unreleased tracks that have been left behind, ready for the B-sides compilation.
What do you prefer… fooling around in the studio, or playing music to an audience?
It's hard to say which we prefer because they are so different but equally enjoyable.
What are some of the challenges of playing your music to a live audience?
The main challenge is having people come up to you thinking you're a DJ and ask if you could please play some "bangers".
Now you have released Bag of Tracks, what’s next?
Our plan is to let the music take its course naturally and keep ourselves interested by making new and different types of songs.