We are celebrating our 500th episode of CatSynth TV! Hard to believe we have made so many of these, but we have and we’re still having fun with it.
This one features numerous synthesizers, including the Octave CAT, Pocket Gamelan, and various instruments from Arturia, Cherry Audio, Moog Music, Strymon, MOK, Buchla, Metasonix, Make Noise, and more. There is also an appearance by Sam Sam at about the 1-minute mark.
It’s that time when we at CatSynth post our traditional end-of-year image, along with a few stats and thoughts on the year that is coming to an end. It was a bit harder to settle on a set of images to represent this year given how much has happened. First, a few quick stats.
On the blog:
142 “cat-and-synth” posts
On CatSynth TV
61 new videos
Most watched video made in 2022: Klaus Schulze: A tribute to his music and legacy
Second-most watched made in 2022: The Logistic Map: Attractors, Bifurcation, and Chaos (Part 1 of 2)
Although there were fewer videos produced this year, there were some ambitious ones, like the two “Red Robot Show” videos. We emphasized quality over quantity.
Compared to the previous two years, 2022 was active and busy. Even a bit chaotic and over-committed at times. Perhaps this is a form of “return to normalcy” after the deepest parts of the pandemic. We did continue the new tradition from last year of releasing at least one EP or album by the end of the year – I am quite proud of the way Merp Friendcame out. I also traveled farther and more frequently than in previous years, reconnected in person with more friends, and will be off to visit New York at the start 2023 for the first time in 3 years (the longest I’ve ever been away in my lifetime).
For this coming year, I already have a new album in the works and lots of ideas for the video channel. I would like to see CatSynth TV grow – and this website could use some serious updates. The challenge is sustainability between music, videos, my personal life, and my “day job”. Finding that balance has been at a time challenging this past year, and continuing to develop my new organization and meditation techniques will play a part. And I of course look forward to spending as much time with my cat family – Sam Sam and Big Merp – as I have these past two years. Working from home has truly been a blessing that came out of the challenges since 2020. As my good friend G Calvin Weston says, forward motion.
Wishing you all the best for 2023 – and we’ll keep doing what we do.
Today marks 16 years since our first post on CatSynth. And of course here is the photo of our beloved Luna that started it all.
Although I still miss her dearly, I love being able to see her through my hundreds (maybe more than hundreds) of photos.
With everything that has been happening in the world and personally, I haven’t marked the anniversaries as much as in the past. But this year seems like a good time to do so, as at least some things from the past are beginning to re-emerge.
And with that, let’s look at some stats. The viewership for the blog continues to be down from its heights in the early 2010s. But we do still get a lot of visitors from all over the world.
According to our Google analytics, the greatest number of visits from July 2021 to July 2020 came from the United States, the United Kingdom, China (glad to see we’re not blocked by the “Great Firewall”), Ireland, France, Canada, Germany, and Sweden.
Speaking of CatSynth TV, the channel has continued to grow. We gained almost 1,500 subscribers and had well over 150,000 views. Perhaps small by YouTube standards, but I am proud of the work we have done and look forward to more growth. Our most popular videos were mostly old favorites including our many Arturia V Collection reviews and demos. Our tributes to electronic-music heroes also were among the most viewed, especially our tribute to the great Klaus Shulze. Again we welcomed viewers from around the world, with the largest viewership in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Canada, and Japan.
We at CatSynth are looking forward to another year of cats, synthesizers, music, art, and so much more. And thank you for all your support from myself, Sam Sam, and Big Merp.
I have remarked on numerous occasions that this year seemed to go by exceptionally fast. There was hope, excitement, optimism giving way to a mixture of frustration, cynicism and resolve as the pandemic and political situations dragged on and darkened. I have seen the goodness in many people, while I have witnessed the worst in others. But our personal year at CatSynth was a rich one filled with many experiences.
Most notably, the new album Meow Meow Band is out. I am really proud of the music, the presentation, the collaboration with other musicians and everything out it. Please do take a listen if you haven’t already. It was also a chance to reconnect with the city, go out on the road and into the desert, and start experiencing live music again. Of course, most of the time this year was spent here at HQ with our music, Sam Sam, and Big Merp. I always value time alone with my cats, music, and ideas and this moment in time has provided ample opportunity for that.
It’s been another strong year of growth for CatSynth TV. The most popular videos continue to be our synth demos and tutorials, but I’m also proud of music videos, highway videos, and expanded review series. There were fewer videos total this year. We took more time to get them right, but also time off to focus on other things (like the album). Trying to find that balance between the drive to always do more and the limits of time and resources will always be a challenge. We close out the year of videos by spending some time with Sam Sam and Big Merp.
We at CatSynth are grateful to all of you who chose to join or continue this journey with us in 2021, whether here on the blog, on CatSynth TV, or on social media. It is a fool’s errand to guess what will happen in the coming year, but we do have many goals, aspirations, and hopes; we will take each day as it comes.
Wishing you all a Happy New Year and health and joy in 2022.
I have on many years posted “A Perfectly Clear Day” on September 11. This 20th anniversary may be the last.
In November of 2001, I was back in New York and went to an exhibition of 9-11 photography. I purchased this print of a photo by Anthony Domino (with proceeds going to victims’ and first-responders’ funds).
It is a beautiful picture of a horrific ruin. I had it framed. But I can’t look at it often. It sits safely in a closet.
As for today, I don’t know that I could express the mixed feelings any better than I did on A Perfectly Clear Day 2018, so I invite you to read that. The thing that is different now is the pandemic. A far larger, far more catastrophic event. And this time I have not been able to go back to New York. I did not go at all in 2020, and whether or not I will be able to go in 2021 remains a question. The fear, anger, and trauma I have in 2020/2021 are no longer turned outward towards an external threat, but rather inward at people in our own country. But that is a story for another, less perfectly clear day.
So much has happened and changed in 20 years. It is time to put this tradition to rest.
It was two years ago that Marlon, aka “Big Merp” came to live with us at CatSynth HQ! We had already known him for a while, but circumstances arose where he needed to find a new permanent home, and we were more than happy to oblige.
We first met him in 2018. He was living on the street in the Temescal section of Oakland, California.
Life on the streets can be rough, and it showed on his face. But he was incredibly friendly and loved people, and enjoyed coming indoors to hang out. He was clearly a former house cat, likely abandoned. We’re glad we found him and gave him a home. The posh indoor life has been good to him.
Big Merp is a “synth cat” – he loves to get up on the main instrument desk to be close to the action. There is the iconic photo lounging with the Novation LaunchPad Pro and Arturia MicroFreak above, as well as many others.
Although he bonded with the humans right away (including visitors), things were a bit more difficult with Sam Sam. She was not happy with this newcomer to her home and tried her best to avoid him for quite a while. Over time, however, her confidence returned and the two grew more comfortable with each other’s presence. They may not be the best of friends, but they do at least accept one another and share space.
Please join us in wishing Big Merp a very happy second Gotcha Day!
How does one summarize a year like this? Words like “unprecedented” seem trite, and we learned from our experience with 2016 that even a difficult year has its beautiful moments. 2020 started out normal enough, with our annual pilgrimage to NAMM but quickly veered into surreal territory, and that was before the first COVID-19 lockdown was announced…on my birthday. Everything that has happened since has happened in the shadow of the pandemic. Perhaps the lowest moment was losing our dear friend Serena Toxicat. But the year has also brought unique experiences and opportunities, such as making music with musicians I admire together on opposite sides of the country. Indeed, as I was grieving the sudden loss of Serena, I received a call from my then-new collaborator G Calvin Weston offering comfort and support, and we have developed a closer friendship along with our musical collaboration. That moment perhaps summarizes the complexity of 2020 as much as any.
It has also been a banner year for CatSynth TV with rapid growth in viewership and subscriptions, but also the craft of making the videos in a variety of structures: synth reviews, interviews, documentaries, and art pieces. Of course, a few things remain active on the blog, our cat-and-music pics, Wordless Wednesday, and the occasional article. But for the most part, the transition from blog to video is complete.
The year ends on a note of optimism for 2021. The vaccines are arriving (we just need to make sure people take them); things are a bit more hopeful politically in the country, and we can start to repair the damage of the past five years. The album I have been working on – a musical statement – is coming together and will be released in the first part of the new year. Our little household at CatSynth HQ is safe and healthy and closer than ever – even Sam Sam and Big Merp seem to be getting along better now. And of course, we’re going to continue to share more videos, images, and ideas.
2020 has reminded us that we cannot know what is in store, and that improbable things can have a tremendous impact on our lives. We will face what comes as best we can, and focus on what is most important. And thank you for continuing to be a part of this journey with us.
It’s the 4th anniversary of Sam Sam’s arrival at CatSynth HQ. It’s hard to believe it’s already been four years, but it’s also hard to imagine life here without her.
On December 7, 2016, I brought Luna’s ashes home. On that same day, a friend drove up from Southern California to San Francisco to deliver Sam Sam. Quite a transition.
Sam Sam was rather timid at first, spending most of her time under the bed, but coming out to eat but also to explore and give her little characteristic squeaks. It wasn’t surprising that she was a little skittish. She was thrust into a completely new place and situation, after a serious of stressful homes. But she soon adjusted and become comfortable, and her goofy and sassy personality blossemed.
This was a paradise for her, and she loved being spoiled. But in 2019, her world was once again upended with the arrival of Big Merp. She didn’t welcome this new “interloper”. It has taken a lot of time and work from all of us at CatSynth HQ over the past year, but we got them to the point where they could at least tolerate one another, and now they can even spend time together, if not somewhat warily.
“Little Sam Sam” continues to delight us all with her little voice and her cute antics. We love her dearly.
Please join us in wishing Sam Sam a very happy 4th Gotcha Day!
Our year-end collage is a long-standing tradition at CatSynth. And we had a lot of fun making this year’s edition, so many wonderful images to choose from. One of my best solo performances to date took place at the Compton’s Cafeteria series at the Center for New Music. Big Merp came to live with has at CatSynth HQ. And our adventures took us from the halls of NAMM to the bottom of Death Valley to the subways of New York.
As we mentioned at the end of last year, most of the energy has moved to CatSynth TV and our social media platforms (especially our Facebook page). The blog is mostly our core cat-and-synth pics these days, although I do enjoy sharing long-form articles now and then. And In 2020, I do plan to revive the “primary highways” series from eight years ago.
On the video side, things have been going very well. Here are the top videos for 2019:
By early autumn, I was also thinking about this year as a “tipping point.” The transition from the blog to the video channel is the most obvious, but it also applies also on the personal side. The arrival of Big Merp was one of the big stories, and it’s been a tough integration getting both cats to coexist, but things have been trending well in the past few months, with Sam Sam regaining her confidence and HQ becoming a more harmonious place again. Musically, I have moved in a direction that is perhaps closer to my roots in jazz, fusion, funk while maintaining the experimental electronic aspects. I have also moved to a point where studio work is how I spend most of my musical time, between the videos and other projects. Finally, I am getting older, as we all are, and that adds both perspective and a need to focus on health and wellbeing. In 2020, I may “do fewer things” than in the past, but I hope the things I choose to do make an impact both personally and beyond.
There is a lot to look forward to in the coming days: NAMM 2020 is around the corner, I have a full queue of demos to share, and I am laying the foundations for some major musical projects. And of course, we will continue to post cats and synths.