Comfort Cat interviewed by Miracle Jones
Images courtesy of Comfort Cat
The Staten Island-based experimental catcore catpop artist Comfort Cat has been writing music, playing strings, and belting out tunes in bars for over seven years. Under the new incarnation “Comfort Cat & Friends”—a trio which adds guitar and piano to the violin and uke—Comfort Cat has just put out their first full-length album, Consumption. Comfort Cat’s sumptuous but demon-soaked harmonies are often punctuated by wild shrieks of feral discontent: music that simultaneously abrades and soothes the soul, like the territorial roar of any domesticated predator establishing space.
While recording Consumption during the pandemic, Comfort Cat was working at the new Amazon fulfillment center in NYC and then later transitioned into delivering packages for Amazon.
Miracle Jones: Where are you from originally and what is your whole deal?
Comfort Cat: My whole deal! Well! I am from a short series of small towns on the West Coast of the United States. I never felt like I belonged to any of them, and I experienced the kind of trauma that made me want to just burn it all to hell and start anew—and the place I chose for that new beginning was New York City. If I'd stayed within the same community that watched me grow up, I would have gotten zero sympathy for the pain I sing about. But here, no one knows what I used to be like. I've been lucky enough to find real fans, who can't judge me for the evil hell spawn I was, who screamed, hit people, and threw things at their faces and literally spat on them—because they never met that spawn. All they know is they like my art, and I only reveal what I want them to see. I never want to go back to that place where adults called me “evil” and classmates called me "psycho" without a second thought. As though I'd forfeit my right to be human. I'm not saying I was perfect—I'm saying I was a traumatized child. So I've burned that past to the ground, in my mind. Staten Island is my chosen hometown. I have adopted myself anew. My new life gives me the validation and the care I have always craved. As an adult, I want to give that to other people who've felt that same pain.
MJ: Okay, so then when did you start playing music and why?
CC: Violin was my first instrument, which I started when I was 8. I didn't do much else until much later. I tried guitar lessons when I was 12, but I had kind of a traumatic moment with a family member who screamed that I didn’t deserve to play it. He heard me playing it on the couch while my friend was playing video games, and he stormed out of his room to scream at me, saying that I shouldn’t be “showing off” after only two lessons, and that my ego was too big to deserve lessons. Then he stormed back into his room. Neither my friend nor I understood what I’d done wrong, but I felt terrible anyway. I believed that I didn’t deserve lessons. So I quit guitar. Meanwhile, I would go to open mics and parties, where dudes played guitar ALL THE TIME, whether well or badly, and I would think to myself, “Gee, I don’t see anyone’s dad yelling at THAT GUY. What makes HIM so DESERVING?” I didn’t feel comfortable playing music for myself until I moved out. Violin felt different, because I was mostly playing from the classical repertoire. The idea of writing or playing original music felt deeply personal, and when I started writing songs, I didn’t want that to be taken away from me. I didn’t want to hear a single comment from anyone who might use it to hurt or belittle me, like money in the bank. I just wanted something that was MINE.
And now, obviously, I hear many comments and criticisms from people who don't like my music. But that's after being supported by the right people. I'm less vulnerable than I was at 12. I'm grateful to the musicians who were patient with me, as I fought demons that they themselves were never plagued with. I'm grateful to everyone who didn't tell me I'm being silly or making everything up or exaggerating. Here's to being a late bloomer!
MJ: What was it like to record an album during this whole pandemic thing?
CC: It was annoying. But it could have been worse.
MJ: Did working at an Amazon fulfillment center during the lockdown influence the sound of Consumption the album? Consumption the concept refers to the disease of wasting away as a result of tuberculosis, but it also refers to consuming things, such as Toblerones or tacos. People did a lot of consuming last year while trapped inside. IS THIS JUXTAPOSITION INTENTIONAL???
CC: The real reason I chose Consumption as the title is that my first EP was sniff (2014), the next one was spit (2019), then along came shhh (2020), and I've long had plans to make one called cough—and since this latest album is much longer than any of those, it deserved to have more syllables! To explain the theme a bit, my plan 8 years ago was to name all of my Comfort Cat albums after human utterances that nobody wants to hear. Most of those things also happen to be symptoms of illness, so I guess Consumption is the full-blown disease we've all been waiting for! I decided all of this well before "global pandemic" became the current state of things.
>br> I also feel like life is the experience of both eating and being eaten alive at the same time. Meanwhile, everything is supposedly traveling farther and farther apart due to entropy, so you may as well enjoy all the consumption while it lasts.
I only lasted at Amazon for like a month, maybe even less. It set my mental health back by several years and made me want to kill myself. I did indeed write a song about how that experience made me feel, but it's not on this record. (It'll be on the next one.) If that experience influenced Consumption at all, it probably contributed to all the stress I felt throughout the process. I thought I was done with doom-inducing jobs in my 20s, but 2020 had other plans.
MJ: Were you at least able to listen to music while you fetched us Funfetti mix and velour tracksuits so that we could get through the pandemic safely at home in maximum style and comfort?
CC: No, we weren't allowed to listen to music. But even if I’d cheated, I wouldn't have been able to hear it anyway, because it was so loud in there. Instead, I just hummed and whined and babbled aloud in the cacophony, because no one else could hear me.
MJ: Would you have joined an Amazon warehouse workers union if it had come to a vote, even if it meant a slight pay cut or something on account of union dues?
CC: I probably would not have joined a union, but only because I did not intend on working there for long. I thought of it as a pandemic survival job, not a long-term solution. But I support everyone who does want to unionize. If that career were realistic for me, I would certainly want to invest in ensuring we were treated fairly. Incidentally, I thought it was strange that, after I had only been there a week, I received papers indicating I’d been enrolled in a 401(k), and they even tried to get me to buy a life insurance policy—which is all stuff that usually implies you’ll be working somewhere forever. If Amazon treats all new hires as though they might be there for decades, they should certainly be prepared for unions.
MJ: What’s the best job you have ever had?
CC: I like working for myself. Over the years, I've learned I just hate working for any kind of boss—no matter how nice or fair they are. I'm just born to be a boss, I guess! I like choosing my own hours and not being told what to do. I think that's one reason why I like teaching—because I get to tell other people what to do! And they're paying me for it! Being self-employed is never easy, and I definitely understand why that lifestyle doesn't appeal to everyone, but thus far in my life, I feel the most empowered when I'm working for myself.
MJ: What’s the worst job you have ever had?
CC: I hate every job. If you're on the clock, you're going to see the worst of humanity—and, to add insult to injury, you're going to know what it's like for all of that to be, somehow, construed as your fault. And I've had several bosses who either forget to pay me or "forget" to pay me. And there's always the coworker that thinks we deserve to be treated badly and paid poorly, which they back up with some religious stuff. And don't forget the coworker that's so pessimistic that you can't find camaraderie with them about these various injustices, because they're like "just get over it, it's not worth mentioning."
MJ: If you were in charge of Amazon, what would you do differently for the employees or customers?
CC: I don't purport to know what's best for people, but what I remember from that job is that it involves a lot of sticking my hands into tightly constricted shelves, and pulling items out of them as quickly as possible. The small stuff was hard to find, and the big stuff was hard to pull out, but we had to do it all within like 7 seconds. If I had somehow stuck with it for longer, I probably would have been let go anyway for not being able to reach their speed targets. I, along with most people, can't compete with machines. So I just feel like Amazon would rather employ machines than humans. And they absolutely should. Everything is moving in that direction, anyway! Plus, no one is prepared to admit that they resent having their stuff touched by human beings, or even having to interact with humans delivering their packages, but I can see it in their fucking eyes that they do (After I left the fulfillment center, I started working as a delivery person for them)—so why not just make all Amazon employees robots in every aspect of their operation? In addition to this, however, I think that Amazon, and all national-scale corporations making a certain amount of profit, should be legally obligated to pay a monthly living stipend to a certain number of people. Priority should be given to the most vulnerable human beings. And I'm not talking about charities or organizations—no, I think it should go to individual humans.
MJ: What you are suggesting is sort of the same as De Blasio’s plan that every new residential building in NYC has to have a percentage dedicated to low income housing: every company past a certain size must start taking on human beings to support with some kind of UBI. I love this plan! Do you think work is “good” for people?
CC: I used to think that the concept of UBI was too good to be true, but after the last year happened, it seems like maybe it's not. You just have to think outside the box a little. I'm glad you like my "plan," though I certainly wouldn't want to be involved in working out the details.
Do I think work is good for people? Well I think contribution is good for people, and that's not necessarily the same thing. I think people come into the world with a natural inclination to want to help others and contribute—little kids love feeling like they're helping. It's only when they start getting taken advantage of that they will start to resent "work." I don't think it's helpful to hold onto unnecessary jobs just because there are people to do them—but it would be terrible to just let them go without a plan.
MJ: Do you think there will ever be a day when artists don’t have to work terrible jobs in order to put out work that people take for granted?
CC: I don't know. I have a feeling some people are addicted to feeling miserable, and I would be lying if I didn't say I could relate to that. Or maybe I just think it's too good to be true. You know what I like better than positive thinking? Money. I'm not even ashamed to say that, because money doesn't even mean "money" to me—it means security. It means not being afraid of other people taking away your home. And I don't think anyone should have to break their backs for that.
MJ: Enough about work! Let’s talk about Consumption, the opposite of work. Your music veers between the melodically lilting, the beautifully harmonic, and then into just the most fucking punk. How do you reconcile these disparate poles of sonic excellence and do you think you have these forces competing inside you as well, emotionally and all?
CC: Thank you for noticing! Seriously, I feel like some people only hear that I'm strange or untrained, and that's all they're able to get out of my music. I think there definitely are contrasting forces inside me. There's a part of me that is very angry and sad, which refuses to heal until it gets its revenge. And there's another part of me that has always wanted to be beautiful. They aren't necessarily at odds, though—it's only when other people tell me they want to hear more from one or the other when I start to feel insecure about it. But I'm not always insecure. I have always wanted to be like no one else but myself, and I think that all of this is the price of getting exactly what I wanted.
MJ: The eclectic style but inherent cleanness of this album sometimes reminds me of early Tom Waits. You sing and play with such fucking confidence, kinda kicking the modern conceit of being coy and artfully detached right out the window into traffic. Are there any musical styles you really love or any you really despise? Can every single song be improved by excellent violin?
CC: Thank you for comparing me to Tom Waits! It's funny that I sound confident—I guess I just don't really know how to sound coy or artfully detached. "Artfully detached," in particular, is something I've never been able to grasp, whether singing or playing violin. People would tell me that I need to have more restraint in performance, and that I need to be detached enough to really see myself and how I actually come across... Well, I can't say I've ever done that. I have listened to my own voice for literal hours, while editing my earlier records, and am very familiar with how it sounds in a physical sense, but "artful detachment" has always gone over my head. At this point, I just don't fucking care.
I guess I'm basically saying none of this really feels like theater to me, despite how closely related it is to music. When I perform, I don't really create a character—I'm more just a louder version of myself.
As for music that I do love, I like stuff that I can cathartically zone out to. I used to feel that way about classical music, but I had this traumatic series of bad acid trips, and I never felt the same way about music again. I feel like I will be recovering from that experience for the rest of my life. It's impossible to talk about with other people and actually be understood. It's so rare for me to feel as joyous about music as I used to, so when it does happen, it's like a gift for my heart. I feel like I went to a place where I so viscerally felt the futility of the human experience, in more than an offhand "well of course we don't matter! so what! let's fuckin party!" sense, and came back changed. I gave up on trying to discuss it, because at this point, it just feels like I made it all up. The only thing left that's real is this lingering baseline of doubt. So my favorite music is whatever intoxicates me so much that I forget this.
MJ: Would you ever do acid again or something stronger like DMT, or are you all done with this inner journey into total darkness?
CC: I think I am done with the inner journey into total darkness! Or I'm just done with hallucinogens. I strongly encourage other people to do them, though! It's just that in my case, I don't know how to just have fun. I can't just enjoy a good trip. I would go into it, hoping to have a good time, but in my innermost heart, what I actually wanted was to see God. And, of course, what I saw was myself, amplified. And I would have probably told you that I did indeed see God, I felt God, I experienced God's scary lipstick and God's scary perfume. (The name of the scent is Ego Death.)
Again, I highly encourage people to do hallucinogens. But if hallucinogens start telling you to be grateful for sobriety, then that probably means you've gotten all you can get from them. I used to think that meant I was stupid, or cognitively stunted and unable to evolve from altered states of being. But now, I think it means that when I am ready for God, I will be ready for death. When I am ready for chaos, my name will have been chaos. It also means I just want to take my time. Maybe I really do love the thrill of the chase. Maybe I don't like cutting to the chase. All day, every day, all I think about is God, but she needs to come to me. I don't want to solve her riddles. She should be desperate to solve mine. I want to be the writer of math book problems while she is the frustrated student. These days, I think I am a closet Satanist, because there is so much to love about the journey of life, and I am afraid of the light at the end—so much so that I build labyrinths into it, to make it longer and more complicated. I have never believed in making things simple. I wholeheartedly resent the concept of unity.
This was all exactly what I was afraid of happening when I did mind-altering substances. I was afraid of getting possessed by Satan—but what actually happened was that I experienced ego death. Nah, it's just plain old sobriety, hard work, and "real life" all these years later that have compelled me to inject a hearty "Hail Satan!" into everything I think, say, and do! That said, I still don't want to do those kinds of drugs anymore. I would even be anxious about microdosing. My brain is more than okay with that decision. All my brain wants is tenderness and love, and it finds those elsewhere.
MJ: How did you put Comfort Cat together and what were you looking for in bandmates?
CC: Among other things, I learned the hard way that I hate playing with people that don't actually love my music. It doesn't matter if they're talented if the chemistry is off. With Jason Laney, he's an incredible human being who plays the fuck out of those keys and truly loves what he does—and we're also very good friends. I would do anything for him at the drop of a hat. As for Dan Veksler, who is also a great guy and a monster at his craft, I'm still not entirely sure how he found me. I just remember that he suddenly introduced himself to me at a Mad Meg show (his and Jason's other band) a few years ago, saying that he enjoyed my music. And then he ended up surprising me by attending a tiny little Staten Island show, where Jason and I were performing. And I asked him if he liked to meow, and he was like "Boy do I!" and it all kind of went from there. But I don't know how he initially found my music. I keep forgetting to ask him.
MJ: Why Comfort Cat and not Grief Cat or Trouble Cat?
CC: When I was brainstorming names for myself, I actually just wanted to be called Comfort. But I ran it by some colleagues (who were British—we were all in England), and they said that Comfort is a brand of fabric softener. I didn't dig that, so I added "Cat" at the end. If you're just wondering why I picked the adjective "comfort" at all, it's because of various things: I think I am both a comforting and a disquieting person. I desire to both comfort and agitate others. Maybe I want to be comforted. Maybe I like comforting cats.
MJ: How did cats influence this album and how do cats influence your music in general?
CC: The most obvious connection I can think of is that I sound like a cat. I've spent most of my life trying to emulate cats. As a little kid, I literally wanted to transform myself into one, and as an adult, I love mimicking my cat and the noises he makes. I guess that's another trauma-related thing—wishing to become another species. It was off-putting to people during school, but here in NYC, I have lots of enablers! My favorite sound is when I'm going on stage and hear a bunch of meowing and hissing from the audience. (If you're a fan reading this, please meow at me more! I really like it!!) I can't express how lucky I am to be in a city where there's no shortage of people that are ALL FOR this cat business. =^..^=
MJ: What would your name be if you were a Cats cat and what would your role be in the Cats universe?
CC: I'd just be Comfort Cat, and I would grow catnip and probably sing a sad ballad about my life. And I would sell catnip to everyone. Which would comfort them.
MJ: Did you see the 2019 version of Cats? What did you think?
CC: I did! It was okay. I guess it was a fresh new take on the old. I didn't like the way they used Victoria, though. I hated that they made her, the pale little soprano, start a pissing contest with darker alto Grizabella about whose pain was more worthy. (I'm not knocking the song itself! I'm just saying that CONTEXT MATTERS TO ME and that part of the film really bothered me.) It was like they inserted a “Mary Sue” into the story, which would have been annoying by itself without the color-coding. Other than that, it was kind of a hoot.
MJ: What do you wish more people knew about playing the violin?
CC: Speaking as someone who teaches it, I wish they knew how wonderful it feels when you think you sound great. I'm pretty convinced I stuck with it for so long because I thought I sounded amazing from the get-go, and all I wanted to do was be the best. Didn't matter what reality was—what mattered was that I liked how I sounded. And all that came crashing to the ground eventually, of course, but I still loved what I was doing. My biggest goal as a music teacher is to help someone love how they sound. Violin is just such a difficult instrument, though, and sometimes I get scared no one will ever want to learn it ever again. If the violin has a soul, forged from the collective memory of all who have contributed to its construction and sound, I hope it knows that I care for it.
MJ: If you were going to do an album of covers, what would you cover?
CC: We don't currently have any covers in our full band set, but there was talk of learning a few Jesus Christ Superstar songs, which I hope to god can happen in time for my 33rd birthday this December. Then maybe we could throw in a few Beatles covers—I do a weird little version of "Rocky Raccoon," and "Till There Was You." I don't think any of those songs would gel together into a cohesive album though! Maybe two small ones. For the Jesus album cover, I could be crucified, while one of the guys gives me vinegar on a toilet brush. And the other album can just be a bunch of other songs we like.
MJ: Let’s talk about some of the individual songs on Consumption! Every time I get rained on now (which is often, as a person who lives in NYC but who never seems to remember to bring an umbrella) I think of the line “I am an animal and I need to be protected from the rain,” which is from “Animal,” the first song on your album. I whisper this to myself as I slink from hole in the ground to hole in the ground. Will I ever be able to buy merchandise that expresses this opinion so that other people will know?
CC: Now that you have expressed a wish to own this merch, your wish shall be granted! You want it on a novelty umbrella? A 100% organic jute tote bag? Breathable cotton panties? Just let me know your required medium!
MJ: An umbrella would make the most sense, I guess! You’ve got another song on the album called, “Seagulls,” but what does it mean to live like a seagull? The flying part seems great, but they do seem to spend a lot of time eating rotten fish and they are totally obsessed by hot dog buns. Convince me I need to live more like a seagull!
CC: So that song is actually written for a girl with whom I had a brief tryst while studying in the UK (circa 2013/2014). I asked her what her favorite animal was, and her response was seagulls. I thought that was weird at first, but eventually I warmed to the idea. And one day, I thought it was the sweetest thing ever, and while we were out for a walk, I saw one, and I said, "Well hello there, little seagull! You're so cute!!" and I knelt down to pet it. I didn't manage to, though, because then my friend grabbed me and said, "DON'T PET THE SEAGULLS!!! The kind of person that pets a seagull is THE KIND OF PERSON THAT GETS MUGGED!!!" I couldn't argue with her.
Miracle Jones, you definitely need to live more like a seagull! They eat such exquisite delights! Especially around here, because think about the kind of food you'd bring to the beach if you were a rich tourist. Have you ever brought salad to the beach? Fuck no! You don't bring salad to the beach! You bring hot dogs, and chips, and burgers, and ice cream, and beef jerky, and gummy bears, and all that good stuff! Seagulls eat the kind of food you bring when your goal is to have a good time. And you know what they do after they steal it from you, without a care in the world for your so-called morals? They scream! And they fly! And they shit! And they fuck! And they come up with whatever names they want for things! They'll grab the snarfblat right out of your mouth—all within plain sight of everyone! I don't see why I should have to convince you why all of this is desirable! It's just common sense to me now!
MJ: This trash life of thievery and shrieking is definitely tempting. Hey, I heard some stat the other day that 50% of people buying electric guitars these days are women, but also some overwhelming number of women stop playing after only one year. Do you have any advice for women out there trying to get into the rock and roll biz?
CC: I read that somewhere too! I guess I'd tell them to be as confident as someone with zero self-awareness. I feel like so many women are so self-aware that it prevents them from experiencing joy. It's a little bit sickening. I'd just want to say, hey stop observing yourself, and just be yourself. You don't have to be good at music to play it. Just go to a nice open mic or something. I hate seeing women apologizing for being bad at stuff and never taking risks, while unapologetic men that are really bad at stuff are all over the place. I'm not even shutting down those men—I mean I just don't want ANYBODY to apologize, and to just do their thing. It's okay to suck! Open mics are safe places to crash and burn. (Note: I have never actually identified as a woman. But I realize I am still part of that community and their collective experience in a significant way, so I don't talk about it a lot, but this interview is as good a place as any to share that I'm a good old NB! My gender identity can best be described as "creature" or "buddy," and I like all of the pronouns. On that note, my guitalele does not identify as a guitar! It is a guitalele! SHOUT IT FROM THE HIGHEST MOUNTAIN TOPS so all the jerks that keep calling it a guitar can hear it!)
MJ: I think you are totally right, buddy: I think most creators start out being brash and bad at what they do and then only eventually become good once they get bored with being bad.
CC: Bored with being bad!! I should say that to one of my students: "I see you've become bored with being bad! Great work!!" Haha, I could probably only get away with saying that to an adult student.
MJ: What is your favorite place to do a show in NYC?
CC: I don't have a single favorite place, but they're probably all on Staten Island, and it's probably just because people actually listen to me in those places. We can't really get away with playing bar gigs. We make terrible background music. Comfort Cat & Friends has had their best shows in backyards, on rooftops, and intentional performance spaces, where the audience comes specifically because they want to hear the music. I would gladly come out to a place like that in the outer boroughs!
MJ: “Everyone Leaves” feels like a real Southern hometown banger about small town anomie and yet you live in the BIG ASS BIG APPLE. It does feel like everyone left this year, though. How do we keep people from leaving NYC because they can’t afford it anymore?
CC: I have never thought about that song like that before! I always thought of it as a BPD anthem, because I always feel like people are leaving me! As far as 2020/21 is concerned, I did feel uneasy when people were threatening to leave NYC, though I bet most of them were probably looking for reasons to leave even before the pandemic hit. I don't know how to make people stay—if I did, I wouldn't be singing about people LEAVING ME, now would I? If only my music were so bad it made rent cheaper! Actually, now that I mention it, it would have to be an enormous, concerted, city-wide effort by all of NYC's worst musicians to fill the air with such bad vibes that rents plummeted! Aww, that's a nice thought! But I have my doubts that we could pull it off. Too much effort.
MJ: Maybe if it was like Pokémon GO or something and you earned “points” for hassling people on the street with music/art that musicians could then redeem for weed.
CC: That sounds fun! I'd do it if I could redeem my points for hard liquor! If they only gave me weed though, I guess I could just trade it with people for booze (also like Pokémon).
MJ: Oh yeah, here’s something I have always wondered: when does violinning become fiddling? You have an incredibly rockin’ violin style, but it never becomes fiddling, I would say, and I don’t know why.
CC: I appreciate that you like my style! And you are right that it's not fiddling. I have lots of respect for people that fiddle, and the many genres that it encompasses, but I just don't like how I sound when I try the aesthetic. As my old bluegrass instructor put it, my playing is "too pretty" for bluegrass. I like Dan's description of the way I play the best: We were having a Comfort Cat & Friends rehearsal a while back, and I played something, and he said, "Your violin just sounds like you." He was correct! I basically have two voices, and they both like to mew like cats.
MJ: I mean, yes, you do sound like a cat. I myself have always identified with city vermin: cockroaches, rats, silverfish. You seem to have a similar affinity with other misbegotten animals. How come we always overlook the awesome animals around us in favor of supposedly more majestic wildlife that we will never actually encounter? Don’t we have a lot to learn from worms, seagulls, and common housecats?
CC: Sometimes I think to myself, some people are Type A, some are Type B, but as for myself, I am Type X: I sabotage and/or leverage the efforts of Type A for my own benefit, which makes me a kind of scavenger. Cats are great at this, because they do it while convincing us that we need them to need us. Seagulls do it without any pretense at all, which I love them for, too. Worms are even more pure than that—they just consume because consumption is what there is to be done. Dan Veksler and I both wrote "Worms," by the way (the credits supposedly only show up on the desktop version of Spotify)—I brought the chorus to him, and we wrote the verses together. The first line came from an experience I'd had at an open mic many years ago, while singing an entirely different song about worms: I explained the subject matter beforehand, to which a few audience members said, "Ewww!" but then this drunk guy shouted, "HEY!!! SOME OF MY CLOSEST FRIENDS ARE WORMS!" So that guy gets it! I have nothing but love for scavengers.
MJ: Yeah, scavengers take what they need: no more, no less. They are very good citizens.
CC: It's nice to hear someone say that. Betwixt all the roles and personalities that humans take on, it's nice to know that at least Miracle Jones thinks scavengers are good citizens.
MJ: “Free Bleeding” is a fucking crazy and incredible song. EXPLAIN YOURSELF COMFORT CAT. I love this disgusting trash ballad to human excess and uncontainable fluids. Where did this punk masterpiece come from?
CC: Thanks! It was initially inspired by a certain friend of mine. She was telling me a story about how she was "free bleeding" at home, and I thought that was the funniest phrase ever. It's also a real thing people do, because it gets really frustrating dealing with menstrual products for several days in a row. Sometimes the whole menstruation experience makes you so tired you can't even get out of bed to go get a pad or whatever. So you'll just lie there in your own expulsion. It's not toxic like fecal matter, but it isn't spring daisies either. It's just lying in your own goo.
MJ: The only reason I have ever been to Staten Island is because you live there. What do you love about Staten Island?
CC: I love a lot of things about it. There is such a diverse creative community here. I feel really at home here - probably because no one is alike, and no one is really competing for attention so much as they are creating attention. I like that the North Shore is close to the ferry, so I'm pretty close to "The City" without actually being in the middle of it all. I like that I'm a short bike ride from the beach. I like that no one pretends to be chill. If someone asked me if I'm chill or drama-free, I could say "no," and I might still make a friend.
MJ: Would you recommend people moving to the city check out Staten Island for deals? It seems like you can still be an artist there for a living.
CC: That is an interesting question. Obviously, I think people should give this borough a chance, because there is indeed so much that is wonderful about it. But I don't want them to drive the rents up, either. As for being an artist as a living, it's hard to say. If by that you mean, are there people whose income solely consists of art-making? Probably not many. But I know people with plenty of room in their schedule for art—myself included. I refuse to work full-time, and I know a few others like that, too. Instead, we'll have a macaroni necklace of a career. That seems like an artist's life to me. If "being an artist for a living" can also mean "living as an artist," then yes, you can do that here. You can do that anywhere you're able to feed yourself while also making art.
MJ: How come I am immune to feeling anything when most people sing songs but your voice always gives me chills? Would you say that you just put 80-90% more soul into your work than other musicians?
CC: Pander, pander, pander! But thank you. People used to say that about my violin playing a long time ago. But then I started to meet people that think classical players are soulless automatons, and I was scared that I was becoming one without even realizing it, and that I was simply tricking myself into thinking I had a soul. But I knew that if I stopped playing, I'd lose my best instrument. And I mentioned I didn't like fiddling, so I never went deep into that. So I started writing songs to fill out what I thought was missing. I'm probably still a robot, though. I am simply overcompensating so that the humans don't suspect anything.
MJ: Like you said though, soulless automatons are the future of labor. I would at least put this skill on your resume if you ever want to get a job at another fulfillment center. Don’t let them hear you sing, or they will never hire you.
Comfort Cat resides on Staten Island with their cat, Jack. They have what they lovingly refer to as a "macaroni necklace" of a career, which consists of teaching private music lessons, writing and performing original songs, playing various instruments with friends, cat sitting, and delivering packages. She alternates between they, she, and it, depending on mood. You can support Comfort Cat's art on Patreon by going to patreon.com/comfortcat and/or sign up to her list at tinyletter.com/comfortcat.
Miracle Jones is from Texas. He is a very private person.