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Cat clyde Main Press photo

On the Rise
Cat Clyde

01 February 2023, 12:00

After a housing crisis shook Canadian singer-songwriter Cat Clyde from her comfort zone, she’s finding her feet on a new path.

“Country music is so intense here. It’s very serious and it’s very real,” says Cat Clyde from her rental in Nashville. “I really love classic country music and I feel like I have a lot of that in my music. I feel like I have my toes in a lot of different places, but not my whole body.”

Clyde is calling in from a month in the music capital. Constantly on the move since the middle of the pandemic, she’s escaped for a change of scenery, to work on new music and “to go out dancing.”

Born and raised around the Canadian province of Ontario, her family finally settled in Perth County when she was age ten. “I was out in the country, I was in a rural area, so I spent a lot of time walking,” she says. “I had a dog and just spent a lot of time in the woods, in nature. I still gain a lot of inspiration from the natural world.”


Despite a few family members who possessed musical chops, it was a neighbour who provided formative inspiration. After receiving a guitar for her fourteenth birthday, she taught herself how to play with the help of the boy next door. His parents owned a music shop in town and in no time Clyde was teaching others her new talent. “I think I was maybe fifteen, sixteen and I was teaching guitar to really young kids and that was really neat,” she smiles.

The local music store even went as far as forming a band, The Big Wheels, from all the in-house tutors. Although they only played local shows and fairs, it gave Clyde invaluable early practice. “That was a really great experience and I look back on it fondly because I was very introverted, but it really helped with dipping my feet into performing and being on stage,” she says.

Cat clyde Down Rounder photo by Strummer Jasson

She took her new confidence and began to busk in the local town of Stratford, a bustling tourist spot in the summer months. With a bit of extra change in her pocket and buoyed by the exposure, Clyde enrolled in a music course at college, studying music business, recording engineering and production. “I met a lot of great people there and it was the first time I had met more like-minded folk,” she says.

Through friends on the course she joined a surf-punk band, the Shitbats, meeting her now partner Strummer Jasson. Her first solo record, 2017’s Ivory Castanets, was even produced by one of the programme’s professors, leading to a record deal with the US-based Cinematic Music Group.


She followed the release with 2019’s Hunters Trace, and as momentum continued to grow, shared a collection of acoustic versions in the midst of lockdown, 2020’s Good Bones. “I played with a band and without a band and it’s very different and I really wanted to capture those songs how I played them when I did solo shows,” she says. “That was the idea for that project.”

When the pandemic hit, Clyde and her partner were used to life on the road, but returning home to their apartment in Quebec, she made plans to record a new album utilising their home studio setup. However, things took a downturn when they both found themselves persistently ill. “It was a strange time for everyone, but we both just felt really low energy, lethargic, cloudy mind,” she says. “I definitely felt very depressed and like I couldn’t gain any momentum and it was just a really strange time because you don’t know, am I just depressed because of this pandemic or is there actually something going on?”

Clyde bought a test kit from Amazon and checked the air in their apartment for mould spores. The results showed aggressive levels present. They were evacuated to a temporary apartment while the landlord investigated. She found an old bird’s nest with rotting eggs in the ceiling above their bed.

Traumatised by the experience and with winter setting in, the couple had little choice but to abandon their plans for recording, strip out their studio and move home. Neither could face returning to their previous apartment. “It was really a devastating time and felt very sad,” says Clyde.

Without a plan in place, Clyde set about trying to find a new path for the record, reaching out to producers and continuing to work on the material. “It was nice because I got to let the songs breathe and try things and experiment and give them time to change and grow. I’ve never had that before,” she says. “It was an interesting experience because I was able to feel closer to the songs and they grew in a lot of ways.”

After a year of searching she reached out to Tony Berg, fresh off the back of huge acclaim from his work on Punisher. They began to workshop her songs over Zoom, but his schedule seemed unrelenting. Eventually, Berg had some free time, and with two weeks notice Clyde flew to LA. “I didn’t know any of the players and it was at Sound City, which is a very iconic studio, and we did it in six days and it was just crazy,” she smiles. “The players were just so amazing and everything flowed really easily. Tony was just an absolute magician, it was really incredible to see his process. Having that in six days was just really amazing.”

Cat clyde Hi Res photo Strummer Jasson

The result is Down Rounder, a record rich in expansive instrumentation, rushing choruses and sparse reflection. Ten tracks of country-heavy pop-folk, it moves from the timeless and retrospective to instant and immediate with ease. Recent single “Papa Took My Totems” feels like a familiar friend, albeit with heavy subject matter, while “I Feel It” is a haunting confessional that’s as emotive as it is direct. One of two tracks mixed from recordings outside the session, Clyde played piano for the first time, enlisting an LA-based cellist on strings. “When I brought the tracks to Tony, he did this whole sound design with it and just made it this whole world and it was really beautiful and I really loved it,” she smiles.

With the rest of the album recorded almost entirely live, you can feel the energy and precarity in the tracks. Released this month on her own label, Second Prize Records, it brings the power back into Clyde’s hands after several years of uncertainty.

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