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Big Cats! “Ballad Northwestern” (Influenza)

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Big Cats Sleep Tapes

Approach Influenza as a series which serves to help give insight as to where music is born; these are the thoughts, influences and the inspirations directly from the mind of the artists. Here, producer Minneapolis-based producer Big Cats! explains not just the process that lead him to the first track on his forthcoming album, Sleep Tapes, but the process that helped him reinvent his passion for making music. Falling into the trap of defining himself by the skills of others he spent a year training himself to get in the habit of being productive for the sake of personal fulfillment. Sleep Tapes will be released June 19th, celebrating the release will be a CD release party at the Dinkytowner.

On “Ballad Northwestern”:

This song is the genesis of the whole album. It’s the first song I made for the record and aside from the intro, is the first song on the album. Prior to this record I had been really focused on placing beats, getting my stuff to rappers and getting my music on other people’s records. I had just struck gold by hooking up with Sage Francis and Jolie Holland on Sage’s last album, and figured that’s what I should be doing more of. This beat got me back to making music for myself. Much of this record comes out of me being sick of waiting for rappers to get it together, for rappers to listen to my demo, for more than 1 out of every 1,000 rappers to be worth listening to, and for all the shitty MySpace MCs to stop asking if I want to “collab” (aka, give them free beats). Instead of having 300 beats sitting on my hard drive waiting for so and so to buy one that he liked, I just said “fuggit” and made a record for myself. This song was crucial in convincing me that a record like that would be worth listening to.

I made the beat late last fall, at a time when a horde of crazy stuff was going on in my life. Among other things, my mom had been in and out of the hospital for a few months, I was trying to finish school, and another bad ass Minnesota winter was looming just over the horizon. I had recently made a rule for myself that I would work on music, even if it was just for an hour, every day. So, even if it’s Christmas, even if I’m dead tired from work, from school, from hanging out at the hospital all day, whatever, when I get home I’m making beats. This was part of the reason for the title Sleep Tapes as well, because I was making most of the material in my bedroom, late at night, really quietly so my neighbors and roommates wouldn’t kill me. In addition – the music is calmer, more relaxing, partially as a way for me to get away from whatever had been going on that day, and to get ready for sleep. A lot of people come home from a long day at work or whatever and crash in front of the TV. I basically spent a year crashing in front of my computer every night and making beats. – Big Cats!