Sue Edelberg is the youngest member of Cat Toy, a five-year-old local band that has its roots around the Durham-Chapel Hill area. The group, which also includes three other members, often practices in Mebon, N.C. at Duck Kee Studios, owned by Cat Toy’s own Jerry Kee. Kee has made a living of recording local bands around the Triangle at his studio, but he also plays the mandolin and guitar for Cat Toy in his spare time. Billy Sugarfix, the bass player for Cat Toy who is described as a local celebrity, also performs with his own band called Billy Sugarfix’s Carousel that has performed across the Triangle, especially around Durham and Chapel Hill. The final member of the band is Sarah Reichman, the front-woman of the band and Edelberg’s “mentor”. After meeting each other at WXDU a little over a year ago, Reichman began training Edelberg with her voice and shortly after their meeting Reichman would also invite her to join the local group. Reichman has worked in radio for over 25 years and she is also a music promoter.
Q: All of you seem to have your own things going on, so how does the collaborative with the band work out and what is the band’s overall goal?
A: Well, it seems that we don’t have a goal. We’ve only actually played one show in over a year. Really we just play just to play. We just enjoy it. It’s more of just a nice release, a nice change of pace. I think it’s more like mental health. But our goal is to eventually put out a little demo, promote ourselves and play shows occasionally. I guess we haven’t really taken the time or initiative to do promotion because when you play music, sometimes really just want to do the music. Right now in my life, I’m not really interested in promoting, I used to love promoting but I’m just really busy with other things in my life right now.
Q: So where does your passion in music lie and what types of genres are you interested in, you personally?
A: As a singer-songwriter, I am definitely interested in acoustic music, acoustic Indy rock. I just really love, love this stuff that’s on college radio right now because it’s coming from all over the country, but I really like the stuff from the Pacific Northwest; K-Records is really great. I like artists like Death Cab for Cutie and Ben Gibbards in his solo projects, and that kind of stuff inspires me when I see people doing something similar to what I’m doing. At the same time, I really love electronic music, techno people, Indy rock, and I really got into bluegrass and old-time music.
Q: As far as your singing and songwriting, do you contribute that to the band or is it more like a separate endeavor where you write songs for yourself?
A: That’s actually a totally separate endeavor. The band, they have written some of their own songs already and we do some covers so I sing back-up vocals and I do drums. For myself, the singer-songwriter thing is just something personal that I’ve always done.
Q: So with your own personal thing and with the band, do you use the same style or do you use a different style of your own as opposed to working with the others?
A: Yeah, I think it’s pretty different. The band, we’re kind of like oldie, “loungey” ‘90s rock music and my style is like very falsetto and harmonies. My higher range has gotten a lot better, so by myself I’ve been doing a lot more pretty sounding stuff. Even though it’s acoustic, I kind of have more of like a rocker style of singing, a little more raw.
Q: You were talking about promotion earlier. So do you feel like it’s easier to promote yourself or to have something put out there, now that we’re in this digital age and all, have you ever thought about producing something that way?
A: Yeah. I have some recordings of myself and I haven’t really put myself out there but I haven’t really felt complete and I don’t have a whole bunch of material, like an album’s worth of material, so I was going to wait either until I had an album’s worth and/or a partner. I’m more motivated when I have a partner in crime, I think. I’ve been marketing myself through open-mike nights, but I’m not doing it for fame anyway, I’m doing it more for an outlet for me.
Sue stated that if she continues to hone her talents in songwriting and singing she believes that she would have the potential to be pretty well-received in the general public. As her own biggest critic, Sue said that once she believes her work is great she knows everyone else will. She is a proponent for open-mike nights as well and she recommends it to all aspiring songwriters.
“Go to open-mike nights," she said. "Go to as many open-mike nights as you can, because that is a great way to try out your confidence level, to try out performing in front of people, try out your sound system, and it’s a great way to meet people, especially potential musical partners. I would definitely say do not just play songs in your bedroom. Get out there. It’s different.
“And really get involved in your local music community. You meet people by [supporting] local bands, going to local shows, because the community is really focused around those small shows and it’s a great way to get involved and also bring your music to the community. It’s a very intimate community so it’s not impossible to become a performing artist at all. It’s really easy and it’s just about being a supportive community member.”