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Pittsburgh Artist of the Week: Feralcat and the Wild

GMV Photography

Fronted by saxophonist f3ralcat, this band’s music is adventurous, heavy, and intentional, breaking barriers, melting faces, and stirring those who experience it to dance. The song “Dancetron” is featured on the multimedia project Disassembly and cheekily ponders the question – Do androids dream of dance?

f3ralcat recently spoke with WYEP’s Joey Spehar.

This conversation may be lightly edited for content, clarity, or length.

What’s your musical history up to this point?

Feralcat and the Wild began as just “Feralcat” in 2019. I took the name Feralcat as a stage name, but in order to avoid confusion I changed the full band’s name in 2021. We released an eponymous EP in 2019, and had a bit of local buzz going for a few months.

We were accepted for an artist showcase at SXSW for March of 2020, which didn’t end up happening because of the pandemic. After losing a ton of momentum, I pivoted the band into making a multimedia project called Disassembly, which premiered in March of 2022. With a new lineup of guitarists, we made a theatrical production with the New Hazlett Theater. This included 14 original songs, a video game-inspired cyberpunk story, and a set of animated shorts to accompany the stories projected behind the live band.

The full album releases on Nov 3rd, 2023.

How do you describe your sound?

Feralcat and the Wild is a 5-piece prog rock/fusion band from Pittsburgh, PA featuring f3ralcat (saxophone), Aedan Symmons (guitar), Matt Elias (guitar), Chris “Trip” Trepagnier (bass) and Allen Bell (drums). With deliberate use of a saxophone in place of a vocalist, Feralcat and the Wild treads the path of an instrumentalist who strays from pre-existing musical constructs.

Our music uses sweeping lyrical melodies over heavy guitar-driven rhythms to create a sound that can be both heard and felt deeply. Influences like Underoath and Circa Survive are as treasured as those of Esperanza Spalding and Robert Glasper. Their songs break barriers and melt faces, stimulating the mind with improvised saxophone music that simultaneously rocks the listener onto their dancing feet.

With the band’s debut self-titled EP (2019), they made a musical style that wouldn’t be put in a box. It is chaotic and daring, and yet fully-realized; and most of all, it’s punk as can be. Feralcat is an artist, composer and producer who performs for a paradigm shift away from that which exists today for saxophone. As a solo artist & producer, the music he creates lends saxophone melodies/harmonies to sounds in lo-fi, synth-wave and video game-inspired tracks.

Tell us more about the song “Dancetron.” What inspired you to write it and what does it mean to you?  

This song feels so typically me. A mesh of musical styles, rhythmic interplay, and a cheeky not-so-subtle nod to one of my favorite video games. The first phrase you hear is the first phrase that I wrote; it’s quick, syncopated and somewhat of a leading musical statement. One that asks, in a cheeky, Phillip K. Dick-ian sci-fi sort of way: “Do androids dream of dance?” I absolutely adore this tune. It’s one of my favorites to perform live, and feels like it has its own lore connected to it.

The song was originally called “Dancetron (1999 – Present).” It was my own personal nod to two artists who inspire me daily: Prince and Nobuo Uematsu. Prince’s insatiable appetite for groove and ingenuity are, for spiritual reasons I guess, always in my process. Not necessarily the songs from 1999, but the man pretty much owns that year for the rest of time as far I’m concerned. As for Nobuo’s connection to that date: Final Fantasy VIII released that year. While it wasn’t the direct inspiration for this song, it was inspiration for the animated scene within Disassembly’s theatrical presentation.

Parts of “Dancetron” also borrowed HEAVILY from the “Theme of Love” used in Final Fantasy IV, one of the first Japanese RPG games I ever played (on the Game Boy Advance though – I was too young when the original came out). Uematsu’s score, while originally made on 16-bit technology, has since been performed around the world with full orchestral arrangements. That trajectory always got me excited about the possibilities within my own compositional career. I also use these orchestral versions of Uematsu’s songs in order to focus and work, like most people use lofi chill beats.

What was the first album that really changed your life?

Circa Survive Juturna

Who are some other Pittsburgh artists you think more people should listen to?  

Space Weather
Heading North

Any other super interesting things we should know about you?

A group of friends and I started a company in 2018 to showcase artistic talent in Pittsburgh. Called “The Attic Music Group”, we worked with local promoters to curate live events around our friends. We built a recording and video studio in the attic of my old home, and would invite musician friends to create live instrumental arrangements for some dope artists. We even did live streams (pre-pandemic so it wasn’t quite as saturated yet) weekly at some point during our tenure.

Learn more about f3ralcat here.

Check out previous Pittsburgh Artists of the Week.

Joey Spehar is a Pittsburgh native who started as a volunteer D.J. at WYEP, fresh out of college in 2006. He took on any job they’d let him do like editing audio, engineering remote broadcasts, and shoveling snow.