Diary of an Artist, Music is my Medicine

And the winner is…

December 3, 2014


Anyone who’s been reading my blogs the past month or so will know I’ve been a bit down and hanging around in struggle town waiting for the sun to come out and shine on my lane again.

Well last night it did, which is weird, cos it was night time, maybe it was the moon, oh no that’s right it was one of those huge sweeping spotlights that gets you in the crowd as you’re walking up to the stage to collect your trophy because you made a sick piece of music that people rated! Yew!!!!!!!!!!

It doesn’t happen every day, but it does happen!

In what felt like a huge welcome to the Northern Rivers area (my new home), my band CC the Cat won the North Coast Entertainment Industry Dolphin Award for best world/reggae track last night for our ska tune Dream Boy! Bless!!!!

CC the Cat winning Dolphin Award for best reggae song

Me with our award. Looking pretty happy with myself :-). We don’t have a pool room so it’s gone straight to the dresser.

I have to be humble about this though because there’s no way I can take all the credit for this little win. Many hands and much love were involved in its manifestation.

The Story of Dream Boy…

I wrote the tune on a mountaintop in Tallebudgera Valley, inspired by a guy I was dating who I thought might be the One. The relationship didn’t survive the test of time but the song did, love like hope springs eternal, it just changes shape and form.

I arranged the tune with my then band Jules (still my trusty musical sidekick), Arno “Animal” Cassidy (drums), Katia Demeester (dancer, singer, saxophonist, stylist, psychic, all-round legend) and Roberto Roschel (trumpet / ze most beautiful man in ze cosmos) and with the help of a few beers, joints, laughs and cigarettes (I abstained from the joints and cigarettes – now nearly 4 years clean!).

Here we are in Byron Bay in 2011. The photo is a bit blurry, they were blurry times, people.

CC the Cat 2012

One of the many awesome CC the Cat line-ups (Great Northern Byron Bay green room, circa 2011). From left to right: Roberto Roschel, Anders Cassidy, Claire Cottone, Jules Cottone, Katia Demeester

I then took the song and the band up another giant mountain by the name of Springbrook on the Gold Coast, to my ex and long-time musical collaborator Boyd Luadaka, who produced the first sessions of the tune alongside ten or so others that we were recording for our sophomore album, Songs From the Sea.

We did a few months of work up there in the freezing winter with triple heater action for guitar takes and frozen fingers, a water pump that kept breaking leaving us without water, toilet flushing, or dishes for days, forcing us to drink cans of scotch and rum and coke for hydration while a bogan (aka Gold Coast native) revved up and down the street outside trying out his home-installed double muffler action. All of that and a lot of musical magic and my usual million and one vocal takes and an epic view.

CC the Cat recording Songs from the Sea

First recording session for Songs From the Sea at Springbrook Mountain

Purrrfectionist that I am, we weren’t happy with the arrangement and feel of a few of the tunes so we handed them to another beloved musical consort, my good man Tilla the Dub, who took Dream Boy and the others up yet another mountain, this one called Montville on the Sunny Coast, and re-arranged the shit out of them.

In the meantime my crowd-funding campaign for the album hit its target and we suddenly had $9,000 in the bank to keep this record rolling. Another winning moment!!!!! 100 of our fans from all over the world pitched in and really gave us a huge enabling hand. (The final bill for the album, all inclusive, was closer to $20,000. I got a bank loan, a cash rescue package from a very special person who really saved my arse when I was really about to sink, and a sweet payment plan from collaborators which enabled me to bridge the gap. I’m still paying off the album more than a year later – with love and gratitude! Much unpaid time was also contributed by all the musicians who performed on the album and helped write and arrange the parts. Massive thanks.)

Feeling irie with all this cash and high on the love of our fans, we then took the song to the West End ghetto of Brisbylon, to reggae producer guru Paulie B in the Lounge of Tanuki, where the track was lovingly laid down by some very special guests who came together to create magic on this little ditty that I’d sung in a lighthearted moment in a tiny chalet on a hilltop in a hoodie.

Charles Wall (Bobby Alu) laid down those snappy drum rhythms with Shannon Green (Kingfisha) on the bass, Grim Tilla on guitar and Sunjay Jude (I like to call him Sunny Wonder) on the keys. Things were starting to sound good. I got to lay back on the couch in a cat-like fashion while Tilla bossed everyone around, after all he was the tallest guy there, and I am just a cat.

Charles and Shannon laying down the drums and bass @ the Tanuki Lounge

Charles and Shannon laying down the drums and bass @ the Tanuki Lounge

sun jay tanuki

SunJay Jude (Sunny Wonder) layin down the keys!


Maestro Tilla and Producer Paulie B


Old mates – me and Tilla in the studio

I made a call to the Boss of Brisbane’s Best Brass Boys, Stevie B (Bullhorn) to join my trumpeter Roberto and loan me a horn section… and in blew the Summer Breeze to lay their love on this little song: Stevie B (trumpet), Mikael Strand (trombone) and Tommy Stewart (sax).

Writing horn parts at the Dave Cave (our jam shed)

Writing horn parts at the Dave Cave (our jam shed)


Summer Breeze laying down the horns @ the Tanuki Lounge

Boys laying down the horns @ the Tanuki Lounge

Mikael smashed out that 32 bar trombone solo in basically one take. We know why he has such a hot girlfriend. Because he is just so fucking good! I dug out the footage I shot on my iPhone of the boys laying down the tune… with Mikael’s magic take too. Here it is!!!

And oh yeah, if it was cold on Springbrook, dang it was HOT in the Tanuki Lounge. We pretended we were in Jamaica mun, to improve the sweet reggae vibes yah.

I got off the couch for a few minutes to sing my lines, and then my sexy fly girl Katia came in and laid down some of her delicious voice all over the top of that already very tasty shit, Paulie twisted some knobs, chucked it all the mixmaster, kept the cool barometer on high, and we sent it off to King Charlie in Melbourne for mastering, and BOOM, there you have an award winning reggae song!!!!!!!

West End’s reggae vinyl label Vitals Signs Records approached me and asked to press the tune on a double-A side 7″ vinyl record, to which I replied Yes, I! So we pressed that baby back to back with our other ska tune from the album, Rock My World (A HA A HA). The album Songs From the Sea was also complete, mixed, mastered and pressed, but the cycle was not… there was distribution and touring and marketing and putting a whole new band together to be done. And do it we did.

Dream Boy on Vinyl!!!

Dream Boy on Vinyl!!!


The single cover

The single cover – Photograph by Jolie Clifford

The whole album cycle took from May 2012 when we started recording to May 2014 when we finished touring… an epic journey with so many twists and turns, financial struggles and breakthroughs, the loss of great band members and gaining of more great ones, moments of real desperation followed closely by incidents of salvation, hitting so many walls and finding new ways over, around and through them, epic highs and painful rock-bottoms, never giving up and always pushing through.

It’s the little things that keep you going sometimes. We also played some really great shows on the weekend which got me pumped and lifted my spirits. I love my fucking band!!!! Dave, Julz, Ange and Stevie and all our awesome crew. Big thanks to NCEIA for the rad award. I AM A HAPPY REGGAE KITTY!!!!!!!!

If you don’t have the album yet you can buy it here, you can order the vinyl here, and listen to Dream Boy and follow CC the Cat here and here.

Happy days are good days and winning is definitely grinning. Stay tuned, please like, share, comment and help me get this blog flying.

Love, music and a little bit of champagne in the membrane,

CC xo

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  • Reply Anando Bharti December 3, 2014 at 8:48 pm

    cool story CC, very entertaining and well-written, a good look into the reality of being a recording artiste in the 21st century, including the solution to all artistic dilemmas: ‘never giving up and always pushing through.’ I love your work, this is a great blog!

    • Reply Claire Cottone December 4, 2014 at 10:04 am

      Cheers Bharti, thanks for following. Love ur work too man. How are your own studio works going? Love to hear some. Love CC xxx

  • Reply Scotty Ze December 4, 2014 at 5:43 am

    Totally awesome story C. You have never given up on your dreams and never will! I love you so much for that. This is the best news I have heard all year, honestly. You are an incredible human being with a heart of gold and a love for the community that has no limits. You inspire me. You are always dreamy to me girl! Z

    • Reply Claire Cottone December 4, 2014 at 10:10 am

      Hey there Scotty Ze… thank YOU for the inspiration for this happy little tune. You taught me a lot about health and happiness and I will always be grateful for that. You’ve had some pretty great news this year yourself! Engaged! Yew!! Thanks for your kind words. You are an amazing being yourself with more talents than one guy should realistically be able to have. And a heart of gold and love of community too. Missing your youtube vids and inspiring updates. What’s happening in Ze land? I see you’re enjoying the snow! Big love to you and Emily. Cxx

  • Reply Sotto December 4, 2014 at 8:00 am

    Your magnificent post on the trials and tribulations, joys and suffering, agony and ecstasy of creating that award winning piece of reggae romance Dream Boy is the price you have to pay when you become a Freedom Junkie. Congratulations CC the Cat Band!!!! You guys are platinum!!
    James Joyce (of Ulysses fame) in his first novel “Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man” talks about the same journey he had to walk in his quest to overcome the obstacles confronting the life of an artist.

    In the novel, he is torn between the constraints that family, nation and religion (staunch Irish Catholic upbringing) place upon him challenging him to abandon his love of the arts and enter the priesthood.

    In a moment of epiphany he realizes that love and the desire for beauty sustain artists when all else fails them. He chooses love and the desire for beauty rather than the low hanging fruit of mundane everyday living.

    James Joyce who abandoned all and devoted his life to the art of writing, was a Freedom Junkie, just like all you artists out there who band together, support each other and are relentless in your pursuit of love and beauty.

    “Dream Boy” is everyone’s reality.


    • Reply Claire Cottone December 4, 2014 at 10:16 am

      Hi there Sotto, loving your responses to my musings. Thanks for this reference to James Joyce (I never did get through Ulysses in my Lit degree! It still sits on my shelf all wordy and deep and so long). I’ll have to grab a copy of Portrait of an Artist… sounds inspiring. Yes all artists do share this tension between what you call the low hanging fruit of the common way… versus the challenging option of the artist’s way… I love the way you put it, that love and the desire for beauty sustain artists when all else fails them. I’d love to share this quote on my page. Stay in touch and thanks for your wisdom. Write soon. CC

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