Florida-based Reed Sligar is the mastermind behind the genre-bending music project that is CATVLYST. Although CATVLYST’s music carries definite elements of the trap, wave and ambient music genres, he is not afraid to experiment with sound and challenge the norms of production. It’s no wonder this rising star musician has amassed an impressive and dedicated Soundcloud following and is destined to continue on this path of success.
CATVLYST has just shared his latest track with The Playground as a premiere, the dark and thought-provoking ‘arrive’, which is available for free download. Listen below.
We caught up with Reed of CATVLYST and chatted about experimental music, making beats for rappers and working on a Sunday.
Hey CATVLYST! Set the tone for us. Why the arts? Why music?
I first got into music production in high school as a way to release creative energy and blow off steam. It allowed me to organize and quantify my emotions in ways that weren’t possible otherwise and helped me meditate. I also liked the idea of how something you could make in an hour with a laptop and headphones could potentially reach millions of people, and can traverse barriers.
Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea?
Typically the idea comes first, but I’ve had it happen both ways. Sometimes I’ll plan a composition almost entirely in my head, while other days I might find a catchy sample and just roll with it.
You have a very diverse sound, one that can flawlessly blend ambient, trap, bass etc… Tell us more about ‘your sound’ and describe it to us in your own words.
Thanks, I appreciate that. In high school I listened to a lot of experimental and ambient artists like Emancipator and Tycho, who inspired me to blend nostalgic, sad, or hazier melodies with heavier basslines and percussion. After a while, I found myself settling into the chill trap/wave/experimental scene on Soundcloud and started to evolve from there.
What’s on your current playlist?
Loud Lord‘s ‘Kush Krazy 3’, a timeless classic. I’ve been working on drumming out more ominous beats for rappers lately so I’ve been listening to a lot of Loud Lord for inspiration. In contrast, I seem to be bumping a lot of Smrtdeath lately to satisfy my emo side.
What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound?
I do a lot of work with compression, EQing, reverb, and various distortion and FX plugins on my daw in order to achieve the desired results. If I want to add a more ominous tone to a song, there’s a whole plethora of things I can do to reverb to add that subtle darkness. But in other cases, I might hardly do anything but lay heavy percussion on a guitar sample. It really depends on the day because I could be going for sad/nostalgic, dark/ominous or just random ambient sounds depending on my mood.
Take us through a day in the studio with CATVLYST.
I usually wake up around eight and toy with beat ideas throughout the day when I have time. My favorite day to put a lot of work in is Sunday, as it alleviates the boredom and I like to share on that day to see how it will fare throughout the week. I’ve been trying to get on a biweekly Sunday upload schedule to generate more traffic on my page. Regardless of the day, I mess around on my midi keyboard whenever I’m idle.
Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”?
After seeing Rustie and TNGHT perform at Pitchfork Music Festival in 2013; I wanted to find a way to preserve the energy I felt after seeing them. It was such an exhilarating experience that I thought it’d be really cool if I could elicit that kind of response from people on a consistent basis through my own project. So CATVLYST began.
What do you keep close by while you’re making music?
My MIDI keyboard, weed, Arizona RX energy and whatever random youtube playlist fits my mood for sample hunting.
Any emerging/unknown/upcoming artists on your radar that the world should know about?
Honestly there are so many that it’s hard to compartmentalize them all into a list; but I’d say a lot of the guys in the Rare Rangers collective are at the forefront of the underground movement right now. A few notable ones are Gyral, Negative, OmarCameUp, Suggs and Zenophaze.
If you could collaborate with any artist, living or not, who would you choose and why?
One of my biggest influences when I was starting out was this producer who went by Cight, who sadly isn’t active anymore. He is considered by most in the underground community to be the king of the ambient beat making movement and it’s really a shame that he no longer practises his craft. I would’ve loved to have worked with him. He was a Soundcloud OG to say the least. I still bump his ‘architecture’ EP almost daily.
What gets your creative juices flowing? What puts you in the mood to create? Whether it be music by other artists, nature, film, art etc…
It really varies day by day. Sometimes I won’t be listening to any music and get inspired seemingly out of thin air. Other times I might be getting really deep into post-rock youtube playlists and decide that I just have so sample something. Then there are days where I can’t seem to get the juices flowing at all, there’s not a concrete rhyme or reason to it.
Any side projects you’re working on that you can tell us about?
No specific side projects, but I do collaborate often with this dope producer Suggs who I mentioned earlier. We have a really interesting synergy with our collabs and have released at least ten or so in the last couple years.
Break down the news for us: what can we expect from CATVLYST in 2019?
There are a lot of directions I could go in; I’m thinking of starting to do more vocal work, doing an EP, working with dope new artists or possibly going on tour.