Monday, February 20, 2017

Every Kitty Dance Meow - the liner notes

Seattle, Washington, Feb 20 2017

Every Kitty Dance Meow is now available just about everywhere digital music is sold!  (at last check, Amazon was not yet showing the album, but this should be resolved in the next few days).  Check it out on Spotify or YouTube, and if you love it, you can get the full album, including the 52-minute continuous mix by DJ Zube, for just 9.99 over at CDBaby.

Here's some further information about the album, incuding #originstories for the individual tracks.

In 2014-2015, while finishing our fourth album, DJSE was busy producing house music and teaching EDM production workshops on the side as part of a house music collective he was working with at the time.  After we released Seen and Unseen, He shared them with Snake who was excited to put our CCR spin on them.  We envisioned a club-focused album – less quirky and experimental, more targeted to dancers and party people.  This is that project.

At first we though it would be quick to produce and release an EDM album – EDM’s simple, right?.  Instead, this turned out to be a massive project. The challenge was how to make recognizable, danceable house music, while still using our signature blend of electronic and acoustic sounds, pulling in sampled found objects and unique instruments. We hope the result, Every Kitty Dance Meow, strikes that balance.  Some of the tracks, such as Exhale and Signs, are house AF. Other tracks, such as Primroses (a boil of Snake’s daughter’s room), or Velvet Saga (a trancey journey which starts out a placid 80bpm and escalates quickly to a blistering 160), explore the edges of the genre.

Throughout the album, we’ve used vocal samples chopped and recombined in ways that seem to act like audio Rorschach blots (DJSE calls them “Mondegreen machines”).  Everyone seems to hear different words.  We’d love to hear what you think they mean – hit us up on Twitter at @ccrseattle and let us know!

We’re indebted to the guidance and advice of Mark (DJ Zube) Zuber, who listened and provided suggestions that helped us tune the album to the needs of DJs.  Zube’s epic “Meow Mix” recapitulates  the album as a DJ set, and is being released as Disc 2 of Every Kitty Dance Meow.

Most important: Every Kitty Dance Meow is first and foremost an album of dance music, so

Get up on your feet!

Don’t stop.  

You’re free.

-Ed (DJSE) Essey, Nick (Snake) Dallett
Cats Cradle Robbers


The album cover for Every Kitty Dance Meow was designed and executed by Snake as an homage to the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ 1991 masterpiece Blood Sugar Sex Magik.  The album title is an homage to C&C Music Factory’s seminal dance hit “Gonna make you sweat.”

The album was released for presale on iTunes on February 12, which is Ed Essey Sr.’s birthday, DJSE’s father.  The album was released worldwide on February 20th, which is Kent Dallett’s birthday, Snake’s father.

With no further ado, the tracks:


Balayage and a Mocha (121 bpm | 04:57)

DJSE's earliest piece of released EDM, Balayage and a Mocha got it’s start on a day when his wife was getting her hair done. DJSE surprised her at the salon with a mocha. Afterwards, he went home and wrote the main body of the track while watching a sunset and drinking a glass of wine.  In keeping with this languid, pampered beginning, the track was always chill, and the first version was downtempo (per the first version on, the original was created at 110 beats per minute).

Snake enjoyed DJSE’s initial foray, and could hear a dynamic moving guitar line to go with the chill chords. He added the intricate “deedly deedly” line, played on classical guitar.

When we started out to create a collection of house tracks, we debated leaving Balayage as a chill, downtempo piece, but after some experiments we decided to boost the tempo to 121 beats per minute, bringing it into the standard house range.  DJSE altered the sound design of the electronic instruments, and Snake doubled his original guitar lines using U-He’s Zebralette and Ableton’s fantastic grand piano pack to build an intricate and interlocking melody that we think is reminiscent of Mannheim Steamroller or the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

We need to give thanks here to Radio Xenu and DJ Pip, who engaged during the Christmas holiday to debut Balayage and a Mocha as a special Christmas 2016 surprise for fans.  Balayage was the second single to come out, following March’s release of Mikle High Clubbin’.

CDG (136 bpm | 05:28)

Inspired by DJSE’s inflight authorship of Mile High Clubbin’, Snake wrote the original version of CDG while flying home from Paris, France in August 2016.  The title refers to Charles DeGaulle airport in Paris, and Snake further riffed on this by writing a simple melody using only the notes C#, D#, and G# in various octaves. 

Snake and DJSE passed the project back and forth, adding layers and new pieces, including Snake playing the Lindsey fretless guitar.  “I nailed that last one,” Snake said after one take.  Naturally, DJSE grabbed that quote and chopped it into syllables to use as an additional instrument.

Exhale (123 bpm | 05:43)

DJSE's first deep house track was written during a family trip to Florida, and was one of the first tracks to gel into a coherent composition. The vocals, obtained through a free sample pack from Black Octopus and sung by the artist Siren, are intimate and compelling. This is the most true-to-genre deep house track that we've produced, and one of the few tracks that we chose not to enhance with acoustic instruments.

Feelin' Nice (98 bpm |05:22)

In 2014 and early 2015, DJSE tapped into a community at work that was interested in electronic music, and pulled the group together to form a collective.  One long weekend while preparing to lead a workshop for the group in creating EDM using Ableton Live, he put together several Ableton projects to demonstrate various aspects of EDM production. This set of projects included the seeds that grew into Feelin’ Nice, as well as Join Up!, Out There, Signs, and Velvet Saga.  Feelin’ Nice was designed to be a slower, downtempo track in the style of Miguel Migs.

Snake played wine glasses (i.e. glass harmonica) on this piece to bring a more organic acoustic sound. The glass harmonica sound, heavily processed, produces the descending riffs you can hear in the first half of the piece.

At one point in the development of this track, Snake added a soulful saxophone line that gave a bluesy lounge feel to the groove. We ultimately felt that we wanted the track to feel more “up”, so we replaced this with the horn section that plays call-and-response with the piano in the final version.

Join Up! (120bpm | 04:40)

DJSE created the core of this track for a u-He Bazille sound design contest. Originally called Join the Club, it was intended to be a progressive house piece. After the contest, DJSE retooled the track to use native Ableton instruments so that he could more easily share the track with his collective. 

DJSE and Snake reimagined the track significantly over a period of several months while working on this album.  The final piece is reminiscent of an anime or video game anthem, inspiring the name change to Join Up!

The distinctive sound of Join Up! owes a lot to the Omnisphere plugin from Spectrasonics, which we pulled in late in development to shape the overall sound design.

Mile High Clubbin' (123bpm | 06:14)

MHC was originally written by DJSE on a flight from Florida to Seattle. Break beat moments in this track were inspired by the infamous Amen Break, which led to the Palm Beach Break pattern that this song was eventually built around. Lofty pads, airplane samples, and a soaring lead help to shape the “mile high” feel. 

This was the first track that we worked on together for the album.  Snake pulled in some of the samples that we recorded for Honeydew Waltz (A Quirky Time for Something New, track 13) to add an acoustic aspect to the electronic matrix. Snake chose some samples specifically to produce the Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR), so don’t be surprised to feel a ticklish feeling at the base of your neck starting at around 01:04.

Mile High Clubbin’ was the first track from the album to be released as a single. We owe thanks to DJ Pip and Radio Xenu for debuting this track and keeping it in frequent rotation for several months starting in March 2016.

The Mydas Beat (feat. Sean Fairchild) (120bpm | 04:00)

When we started to get serious about making an EDM album, Snake was determined to contribute one or more house remixes of tracks from our previous albums.  The Mydas beat, a thumping remix of 2011’s Mydas Touch (Abewsing the Mews, track 11) seemed like a good candidate.  Sean Fairchild’s  funk bass provides a solid anchor for Snake’s vocal explorations.  It’s all wood, man… it’s all wood. As always, DJSE and Snake worked together to craft the initial seed into the final polished track.  We need to give a shout-out to DJ Zube as well for providing valuable input on this track.  He’s indicated that it’s one of his favorites, and he’s already been heard trotting out an early version for at least one Seattle-area gig recently.

Out There (123bpm | 06:08)

A dramatic moment in this song asks us to ponder: "Is there something out there?" DJSE was working through some advanced technique tutorials by talented producer AK (check out his YouTube channel here) when he created the initial seed for Out There. He took those techniques a step further to create some sickly harmonized, randomized vocal chops to create tension.  Combined with a detuned melodic element, the track moves between melodic and dissonant moments.  The vocal break that starts at 4:29 is one of the hottest “dance floor moments” of the album.

Signs (123bpm | 07:44)

This was a piece that DJSE prepared for his first EDM workshop: Create a Deep House track in 90 minutes. This was originally created using only patches found in the Ableton Live free demo, with the addition of a free demo download of Cory Friesenhan vocal samples. The original version of this track was created in less than 30min.  With Snake’s extended arrangement, a newly written bridge, and continued reworking by DJSE and Snake, Signs evolved into a solid deep house thumper.

Things to listen for in this track include the tennis game that starts about a minute in, and Snake’s neighbors, whose drunken singing and laughter, recorded through the hedge during one of their summer parties, provides atmosphere at the opening.

The Sun is Always Shining (123 bpm | 04:19)

Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way introduces the idea of the “artist’s date.”  (See the concept described on Cameron’s website).  For an artists’ date on March 9, 2016, DJSE gave himself 30 minutes to draw a picture based on the theme "The Sun is Always Shining."  He then laid the drawing out on a grid, and interpreted it as a loop in Ableton Live. The piece was lovely and mesmerizing, and we speculated that we could build an EDM track around it.  Snake finally took the original audio output of the track, and used it as the start of an EDM remix that expanded and amplified the original using EDM tropes.

You can hear DJSE’s original artist’s date on our Soundcloud page.

The title comes from a mantra reminding us that even on the darkest nights and cloudiest days, the sun is always shining, even when we cannot see it.

In keeping with the desire to mix EDM with our signature sounds, we use the 2xtar to provide unique accents throughout the track.

Primroses (feat. P-Rose) (134bpm | 04:26)

Each album we release contains a “boil.” As defined in our “Honeydew Waltz” music video, to “boil” a location is “to create music using sounds sampled from the referenced location or object.”  Since we typically boil a room in Snake’s house, we call this “REAL house music.”

So far, we’ve produced and released 5 boils: one on each album.  (Boiling the Ocean was the very first boil we produced, and is where the term boil originated.)

Abewsing the Mews
Salumba Parte
Master Bedroom
Jack in the Bucket
Boiling the Ocean
A Quirky Time for Something New
Honeydew Waltz
Seen and Unseen
The Dry Sound of Atonement
Laundry Room
Every Kitty Dance Meow
Daughter’s Bedroom

Snake’s daughter P-Rose specially requested that we sample objects in her bedroom, which we did in the fall of 2014 – everything from toy musical instruments to a “Love Story” music box, to a “Dignitet” curtain wire from IKEA.  While we were at it, we sampled P-Rose and one of her friends, interviewing them about the process.  In the interview, P-Rose admits about her room “Mom says it looks like a tornado hit it.  It’s my protective layer of dirt.” 

Originally written as a pop-rock track, DJSE converted Primroses to a house track during a late night planning session for the collective.  Since then it has been refined repeatedly, passing back and forth between Snake and DJSE until it reached its final form.

The Best Medicine (feat. Ed Essey Sr.) (102bpm | 05:46)

The seed for The Best Medicine was written by DJSE on another trip to Florida to spend Christmas with family. He was fortunate to find an Ableton Push, a Zoom H6 field recorder, and several great software plugins under the tree, and he put them to good use sampling family members visiting the local nature preserve and playing with his baby niece. Later, Ed Essey Sr. added a guitar line that fit wonderfully into this track.  Most of the sampled and chopped vocals are of various family members laughing, hence the title.

Velvet Saga (80bpm | 04:05)

The original version of Velvet Saga, conceived by DJSE as a slower, calmer piece for his wife, stayed at a sedate 80bpm.  While working on the arrangement, Snake added a doubletime section to bring the energy up, and this led to the final form of the track with its transitions from calm to driving.  The final version reminds us of an epic fantasy plot with quests, battles, and serene moments.

Every Kitty Dance Meow – the Meow Mix (feat. DJ Zube) (120-160bpm | 51:15)

Throughout the production of Every Kitty Dance Meow, we consulted with DJs and other producers to ensure that we wound up with a product that was unique but that would fit in a set with music by other producers. Nobody was more engaged and helpful than DJ Zube. By the time we were starting to think about the endgame of the project, we had hit on the idea of having Zube produce a set using only tracks from the album, and releasing it in tandem with the individual tracks.  This 51-minute set is a continuous mix of the album by Zube. To create the set, he live-mixed the album twice in Serato, and we then spliced together the best pieces to create the final mix. 

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