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Salt Lake City, UT | Established. Jan 01, 2017

Salt Lake City, UT
Established on Jan, 2017
Band Pop Electronic


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Mad Madge"

Like most of Cat Leavy's fans, I became acquainted with her through New Shack—her collaboration with Eric Robertson. Not too long ago, I was jamming to the duo's 2016 self-released Eingang EP while extolling its virtues for City Weekly's local music issue. Now, in what can only be explained as music-geek serendipity, I've stumbled upon yet another reason to admire Leavy. Back in mid-March, she released the song "Red James" via Bandcamp. It's an explosive introduction to Madge, Leavy's upcoming solo project.

"Red James" is one of those debuts that demands your immediate attention—a pure jolt of effervescent electropop that draws wattage from the work of Matt & Kim and Broken Social Scene. Not only is it one of the most impressive musical debuts to come out of Provo, but the fact that Leavy wrote, recorded, produced and mixed the song herself is enough to turn it into an anthemic herald of a new, female-driven era of local music production.

"I was raised doing competitive piano, but it was pretty intense," Leavy says in a telephone interview. "I actually burned out on that as a teenager and swore off music entirely." She rediscovered her musical side while pursuing a master's degree in art theory. Initially exploring music as a hobby, she connected with Robertson. "When I met Eric, I was writing a lot of songs but never planned on singing them," she says. "He really encouraged me to sing more."

Since meeting, New Shack has recorded two well-received albums and built a strong following. This led to an invitation from the Ogden Twilight Concert Series to open for Miike Snow's upcoming performance on June 29. Now Leavy is becoming a bit of a musical powerhouse: In addition to working on New Shack and Madge, she also co-owns and operates Bone Shack Studios with her partner, Chris Bennion of synthpop duo Coral Bones. Currently, they split their time between recording other artists and doing licensing work for TV and commercials.

Opening a music studio has also given Leavy the opportunity to position Bone Shack as a safe haven for the more ostracized communities in the music industry. "I really enjoy working with female and non-binary artists and I think the LGBTQ, female and non-binary scene in Utah needs support and a safe space," she says. Like Stephen Cope of Studio Dada, she says her goal is to work with more underrepresented local artists. With this foothold in the local music community, Leavy helped activist and musician Dylan Lewman (aka DeelanZ) organize the upcoming Divinity Concert on April 14, which will raise money for Planned Parenthood—though New Shack had to cancel their appearance for personal reasons.

Leavy's solo work with Madge emphasizes being an independent female artist and producer. "The most recent statistic I read said that the number of successful female producers in the U.S. right now is so low that it's statistically immeasurable," she says. "As a woman working in the music industry, it was important to do something on the production, audio engineering and mixing side." She is quick to share the credit with artists like Salt Lake's Bobo, aka Kari Jørgensen, who came to Salt Lake's Hel Audio to master her album Smoke in the Elevator, which she recorded and mixed herself. "Her music is fantastic," Leavy says.

Thus far, Leavy's work as a musician is a positive and empowering example of how the marginalized communities within the recording industry can step up to write, perform, record and produce their own music—and so far, it sounds great. "I'm excited to be in that club," she says. "As women, we're socialized to be submissive. I hope I can help other female and non-binary artists to do this. There's a lot against you, but there's nothing stopping you." - City Weekly

"New Shack’s Cat Leavy gets adversarial on new solo project, Madge"

Cat Leavy is angry. More specifically, she’s recording herself being angry. For her, that’s a first.

“It’s kind of scary, especially because the things that I’m angry about are still very real around me — institutions and systems that are still very much part of my life,” Leavy said while sitting down at Bone Shack, her home studio in north Provo.

“It does feel quite exposing to put that out there.”

Fans of Provo music know Leavy best from New Shack, her dreamy synth-pop collaboration with local producer Eric Robertson. Anger, she said, really isn’t a part of that project. So for her solo work, she’s adopted a new moniker: Madge. And Madge has no qualms with stirring the pot. (The name and character come from Celtic folklore — Madge is a witchy, mischievous hag that dabbles in black magic.) Leavy’s first Madge release, the EP “Fight or Flight Club,” was recently released, and she’ll be performing it Wednesday at the Urban Lounge in Salt Lake City.

“Fight or Flight Club” is a Leavy project through and through. She wrote, recorded and produced all the songs herself — an outgrowth, she said, of having a “manic desire” for a completely DIY project. Fans of New Shack will find commonalities. Leavy’s voice and melodies are still whimsical and saccharine-sweet. The lyrics, though, feel more direct, buoyed by obtuse and prickly soundscapes. Take the following line from the EP’s title track: “I wanna know why you made me your punching bag/Is it because I am mean or because I’m mad?”

Madge shows Leavy facing her tormentors. In some cases, she’s simply facing a mirror.

“I constantly beat myself up, but then I’m mad when I am beat up — mentally, emotionally — by the world I live in,” she explained. “But I’m doing it to myself as well, unconsciously, or maybe because of the world I live in. It’s this conflict and tension between not wanting that, and then doing it to myself. So maybe I do want it.”

Between Madge, New Shack, recording artists at Bone Shack Studio and licensing commercial music, Leavy is keeping herself busy. She and her husband, local musician/producer Chris Bennion (of the band Coral Bones), are full-time musicians. Fully embracing her own artistry may sound liberating, but it isn’t without its challenges. Hence the EP’s “Fight or Flight” title.

“I think that anyone who lives in a space of creativity and anxiety will recognize that feeling of wanting to fight through a feeling, and then also wanting to leave it altogether all the time,” Leavy said. “I think that is a very clear indicator of my relationship with music in general. I feel like for me to keep doing this is very much a struggle. I don’t know if this is who I’m supposed to be, but I want it so bad.

“And to a certain extent, I think that this tug of war — this equilibrium that’s created between fight and flight — inspires me,” she continued. “And I think that it’s not a bad way to be. It’s not something I’m trying to stop doing.”

Then she chuckled, adding a caveat.

“But sometimes I wonder if it’s healthy.” - The Ticket

"Localized: Madge"

Hot, late August nights are the perfect time for shows that buzz with energy, and that’s exactly what will be delivered when Madge’s electric noise-pop joins the surfy, summery garage rock of Peach Dream and openers Dream Slut. Needless to say, this will be one dreamy Localized, so come bask in the haze at Urban Lounge on Aug. 16. The show is 21-plus and free, thanks to our sponsors: Uinta Brewing, High West Distillery, KRCL 90.9 FM and Spilt Ink SLC.

In the opening of her single “Red James,” Madge, aka Cat Leavy, sings in a multiplicitous, weevily voice, “I’m Madge, with the broomstick,” before blasting off into a track that is driven by conflicting, layered beats and fuzzily bouncing synths, which convey the attitude of a pop song while dodging just around it with something more warped than pure pop. Anyone familiar with the work of Provo’s New Shack knows that Leavy can weave a dreampop soundscape, and “Red James” indicates that her new project, Madge, will only prove this to be more true. It is not only this experience that has helped Madge come into existence, but that broomstick, too.

While Leavy describes her work in New Shack as pure, she says that Madge stems from and exposes a place of rawness. Leavy says, “In Celtic mythology, there’s the goddess Maeve, the goddess of madness and creativity, and in modern folktales, she has become this witchy hag, this mischief-maker named Madge. I read about that years ago and kind of clung to it. [Madge] is the part of me that is angry and not necessarily well-spoken or refined.” These descriptors come across pretty easily in “Red James,” not just because of Leavy’s wild vocals and lyrics, but because of its spur-of-the-moment creation and personal style. The song started off as an experiment in Bone Shack Studio (which Leavy runs with her partner, Christopher Bennion), where Leavy layered tracks until she got the final product. Of this production and its resulting sound, Leavy says, “I’m drawn to very hard-hitting beats, and in my studio, I work mostly with analog synths. I love the way they sound and the vintage idiosyncrasies that you get, the grittiness and sloppiness that come from vintage and analog gear. I like poly-rhythm, combining time signatures, and if you listen to ‘Red James,’ you hear tons of beats coming in at different places. I think that when I make music, it references what I’m feeling in the moment.”

It’s always impressive to think about how for some people, like Leavy, expressing oneself in the moment means sitting down in a studio and not only laying down tracks but producing it all, too. Leavy mixed and recorded the whole thing herself, engineering everything. This skill stems from the combination of being exposed to the producing techniques of Bennion and New Shack’s other half, Eric Robertson, as well as being self-taught. Starting off by messing around on Garageband years ago, Leavy has, for the past year, learned about audio engineering from Women’s Audio Mission’s Sound Channel, a program that provides interactive textbook information on the subject. Given this commitment and the fact that Leavy has a master’s degree in Performance Studies, her life seems to revolve around music and learning more about it.

Having this expertise and hunger to learn is what helped Leavy start Madge. “I think this project has been in my brain for a long time,” she says, “and recently, I’ve had the tools and the skills to realize it.” Leavy’s production skills and the birth of Madge seem to go hand in hand, especially since Madge is also representative of how far Leavy has come with those skills. Leavy says of the project, “I think I do kind of get the gratification of having complete ownership of something, and also doing something that is letting people know a different side of me. I love the New Shack persona and the imagery there—I think it’s very cool, but I think Madge is a little grittier, and I’m a lot more self-conscious about it. It feels good to have this part of me exposed.”

Leavy’s studio work exposes something else, too, and pushes back against it: the lack of women-identifying and nonbinary people in the world of music production. While Leavy loves her male-identifying studio friends, she still notes, “I just realized early on how insecure it made me feel to be around these people. I’m a pretty strong, forward, confident person, and this weird side of me comes out when I’m working with men where I become very deferential and second-guess myself … but truthfully, I’m very smart, I’m very capable. I’ve learned all this very quickly.” It’s hard not to think of Grimes, who, after finishing her fourth album, Art Angels, posted a picture of her album’s details, where she was listed as engineer. In a way, “Red James” feels like that sort of receipt: proof of Leavy’s work, experience and strong creativity.

On July 29, Leavy will release Fight or Flight Club. The EP will vary in melodic and dreamy territories as well as more noise-driven ones. Wherever it goes, though, what will doubtlessly come across is Leavy’s skill, the experience it conveys and why it matters. - SLUG Mag


Red James - Single



Madge is a solo electronic project by Cat Leavy, otherwise known for her work in synth duo New Shack. Her work is equal parts dreamy analog synth and punchy beats and will leave you wanting to fight and/or dance. Madge's upcoming EP "Fight or Flight Club" is entirely self-produced and self-mixed. In this project, Cat tells stories about addiction, gender identity, and the angst she has felt breaking into a field dominated by men. City Weekly describes her newest single as "one of those debuts that demands your immediate attention—a pure jolt of effervescent electropop." Stay tuned for summer 2017 for her new music video and EP release. 

Band Members