A Fig Tree Grows In Brooklyn: A Q&A with Cat Martino [Artist Spotlight]

Cat Martino is releasing a new album under musical persona, Stranger Cat, joined by her co-producer/bandmate Sven Britt. Into The Wilderness is out 4/11/15

You can pre-order In The Wilderness now and stream the track, “Sirens” here.

My first question is, what influenced you most during the writing of this album?

Ca Martino: Hmm…influenced I’m not sure what you mean, but was led by the toys, the gear. We like to set up all the pedals, the synths, the loopers, the drum machines and play/improvise until it feels good, then do purposeful composing and editing around that. So I guess looking/listening to the moment. Being in the woods of Northern California influenced too

As far your lyrics for the album go, I picked up on references to life in Brooklyn, you mention Bushwick and a fig tree. The latter was really evocative of the place, because my grandmother (a nice old Italian lady) has a fig tree in her backyard, were you trying to evoke specific moments in your life or moods you experienced during the making of it?

CM: Amazing!!! Yes, on that one I am telling my Father’s life story, immigration from Sicily to NYC through the image of the fig. Starting with him in Sicily and ending in NYC where a fig presented to a child by his mother lets him know he is in a new home. That song is very close to me because I find a lot of inspiration in that story. So I’m speaking from my father’s perspective

Related to that, when you’re writing songs, are they mostly from your perspective, from the perspective of folks you know, or are you writing character sketches?

Cat Martino, photo by Shervin Lainez

Cat Martino, photo by Shervin Lainez

CM: All three. “Fig Tree” is completely from Vito Martino’s imagined perspective. A lot [of songs] on this record are from mine, but I also play with my own alter egos or imagine I am a character to get to something more real I couldn’t express on my own. e.g.: “Ecstatic Energy” is like my super hero outer space self talking, “R.E.D.” is a lot about feeling really controlled by a situation so I created this character, Maybelle who is sort of at the center of an old-fashioned witch trial to talk about it.

When you begin working on a record, are you working on the music and lyrics at the same time, or does one come before the other?

CM: All ways. No format. But a lot of my best “seeds” for songs come from recording improvisations. If I start saying something over and over again, I won’t try to analyze what it means at that moment, just observe it. Later, I can make sense of what “unzip the skin” or “I just want to lose control” really means to me. But I know it’s important if it comes up repeatedly. The subconscious is strong, “Fig tree grow in me.” Also, I’ll mention that Sven and I improvise a lot as a team, then go back and forth shaping structure. First, find the strongest nugget, build around that.

This has been great, thank you for your time. I just have one more question: if you were a superhero, what would your power be and what would your animal sidekick be?

CM: Haha. If I was a superhero I would be Stranger Cat, and my animal side kick would be Sven Britt turned into a super hero dog! Stranger cat has magical powers…she’s way more bad ass than me or she’s me when I am bad ass.

Cat Martino, channeling Kate Bush in the "Wuthering Heights" video,  photo Shervin Lainez

Cat Martino, channeling Kate Bush in the “Wuthering Heights” video, photo Shervin Lainez

Announcing Joyful Noise Showcase at SXSW 2015 [Announcements]

By (Staff Post)



That’s right we are having a party at SXSW and yall are invited! These are some of our favorite bands and to have them all together for one night of rocking goodness is a dream come true!

March 19th – 8pm – +21 – at The 405, 405 East 7th Street, Austin, TX – $12 without SXSW pass


And we will have 250 of these cassettes available.  Only place you can get them is at the SXSW show. With a song from each artist performing at the show.  Yeah!




Surfer Blood sign to Joyful Noise! [Announcements]

By (Staff Post)

Today we are pleased to announce that Surfer Blood have signed with Joyful Noise for the release of their new album “1000 Palms”, out May 12, 2015.

1000 Palms is a return to Surfer Blood’s DIY ethos. Abandoning the big time studio, the band decided to head back home to self-record and self-produce their third album. Free of major-label-influence, Surfer Blood have created a uniquely compelling album, unlike anything in their catalog.

The opening track from 1000 Palms, titled “Grand Inquisitor”, has just been secretly released to Joyful Noise VIP Members on 541 “Lathe-Cut CDs”. This 5” hybrid format will play on any manual turntable, as well as in CD players/computers. Check out the instructional video here.

This crazy lathe-cut CD was released as our February “Mystery Single”, and is not available for individual sale (but we bet you can find a leak somewhere).


Announcing: Sufjan Stevens Lathe-Cut, ltd to 100 [Announcements]

By (Staff Post)

We are very excited to announce that JNR will be releasing the new single from Sufjan Stevens, “No Shade In The Shadow Of The Cross”, on limited edition lathe-cut! In case you haven’t heard, Sufjan has a new album Carrie & Lowell coming out on March 31 via Asthmatic Kitty Records. This is Sufjan’s most intimate and personal material to date, and we are honored to play a small role in the release of this magical album.

This lathe-cut record will be the one and only physical release of the single, limited to 100 hand-made copies.

Copies will go on sale on Monday February 16, at 2pm Eastern Standard Time, and are available exclusively to VIP Members.


Announcing our 2015 Artist In Residence: Tim Kinsella [Announcements]

By (Staff Post)


We are honored to announce our official 2015 Artist In Residence: Tim Kinsella. Tim’s legacy of fearless artistry is unparalleled. Through his work with Cap’n Jazz, Owls, Make Believe, and Joan of Arc, Tim Kinsella has cemented his place as one of the most groundbreaking and unapologetically honest artists in modern music.

Throughout 2015, Tim will be creating a plethora of new music, words, and art as part of this massive year-long subscription, including each of the following:

  • Wooden Box Set (limited to 300 copies, screen-printed, and signed)
  • Two new full-length albums on 12″ vinyl
  • 10″ vinyl EP
  • 7″ vinyl EP
  • A new book (written by Tim Kinsella)
  • A special art object
  • MP3 and WAV download of all recorded music

Each vinyl pressing limited to 300 copies on colored vinyl, packed in custom screen-printed jackets (designed and printed by Landland).


One-time purchase includes quarterly shipments throughout the year. Items & download codes will be sent approximately every 3 months, with the first release scheduled for April. The limited edition vinyl will not be sold individually apart from the box set (though non-limited editions of some of the songs may be released at some point).

Joyful Noise: Under Construction [Staff Posts]

photo by Roberto Campos

photo by Roberto Campos

Joyful Noise proudly returns to First Fridays with a brand new performance space on February 6, 2015. The new performance space will be christened with a stellar lineup consisting solely of Joyful Noise Recordings artists: Sedcairn Archives (DMA) + KO + Serengeti + Yoni Wolf + Yonatan Gat

Here’s a brief interview with Joyful Noise Recordings president, Karl Hofstetter.


Karl Hofstetter,  photo by Roberto Campos

What prompted the move to a new performance space?

Karl Hofstetter: Well, many years ago when we moved into this building we were small enough for the entire label to be contained in one small room. As the label grew we began renting additional rooms our building out of necessity, but this resulted in the label being fragmented and split up into different rooms.  Our show room was 30 feel from our office, which was 30 feet away from our warehouse & fulfillment. It wasn’t very conducive to a healthy co-working environment. So we hatched the plan to connect all of our various rooms into one shotgun space consisting of Record Store > Venue > Office > Fulfillment > Warehouse. I think it’ll create a healthy “eco system” for the label.

How does this new space improve on the older one?

KH: In terms of the venue portion of the space, it’ll be improved because we’re getting a bunch of new PA and sound gear. It’s going to sound amazing! And it’ll keep the same vibe of our old room. Organizationally it’ll be improved by having the record store connect to the venue. It’ll be a lot easier for us to maintain our store, and a lot easier for folks to grab records while they are here for shows. Plus we’ll have an “indie rock oddities” museum going in… more on that soon.

You’ve partnered with a local brewery to supply drinks during shows, how did this new arrangement happen?

KH: This happened because we didn’t want to fuck around with getting permits and bartending. We thought it was best left to the professionals. So we partnered with Indiana City Brewing to make sure every show has good beer for sale, and is still all ages. And legal.

How does it feel to essentially have your own Joyful Noise wing?

KH: It’s been a long time coming, but I’m very excited. We’ve had so many makeshift configurations in this building, trying to bridge our needs with what was available and affordable to us. It’s truly amazing to finally have a fully-realized location, and I’m very happy we were able to do this expansion in the building we have known and loved for basically our entire label history (Murphy Arts Center).

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