Local band continues to produce unique sounds
December 2, 2015
On a Friday night in the Warner Robins bar Friends on the Hill, members of the band Bootz & Katz took the stage alongside their microphones, guitars, keyboard and drum set.
It seems like a typical rock concert were about to take place if not for a separate table holding a laptop and live sequencer board, a device that allows music to be recorded, altered and played back.
The group’s drummer, Michael Lirette, counts out the rhythm with his drumsticks, and Bootz & Katz launches into its opener.
Dixon Cassara alternates jobs throughout the performance. Sometimes, he plucks out notes on the bass guitar. At others he adjusts the keys on the live sequencer board.
Ryan Walters plays two roles during the production as well, switching between the keyboard and guitar. Sophie Leveille, the group’s lead singer, belts out the lyric.
The sounds that this group produces merge the genres of jam-style rock and electronic music together to form a new genre, Livetronica.
Bootz & Katz is one of the few Livetronica musical groups in Macon, and its formation was purely experimental.
“At the very beginning of 2013, I met Dixon… I had always DJ’d and made electronic music and I played guitar too, but I never tried combining them,” Walters said. “We were like, ‘let’s just try it, electronic music and rock music at the same time.’”
Bootz & Katz, in its initial stages, consisted of only Walters and Cassara until they decided that live drums were necessary for their music to progress.
“We called Mike up and he was willing to come on board, and the rest was history,” Cassara said. “It was actually Mike’s idea to get a singer in the group.”
Leveille, a sophomore and music major at Mercer, met Walters through mutual friends and their conversations eventually turned to music.
“We started talking about music and he said he had a couple of songs that he needed vocals for because he was in this band called Bootz & Katz,” Leveille said. “[I thought], ‘that’s kind of a funny name.’”
Walters and Cassara chose the name Bootz & Katz after meeting a beat boxer who worked on his talent by saying “boots” and “cats” three times fast to create a beat.
“It was originally b-o-o-t-s and c-a-t-s, but we kept having people come up to us after shows talking about ‘Puss in Boots’ and kittens,” Walters said, “so we changed it to the ‘k’ and the ‘z’ to give it more of a phonetic touch.”
The group was almost named Conflux meaning the merging of different ideas, but the title had already been taken by a jazz-metal band, Cassara said.
Despite this, Bootz & Katz still named their first song “Conflux”, and it is one of their most popular songs.
The creative process behind making a Bootz & Katz song involves input from every member.
“Ryan and Dixon will produce a song. I’ll put words on it or maybe Mike will jump in first and then we’ll have practices together,” Leveille said. “We’ll make sure everything really ties in together so that it’s not three separate ideas, but one major, beautiful, awesome song.”
The group is influenced by a wide range of genres, from hip-hop to classic rock, Dave Matthews Band to Skrillex.
When it comes to actually putting the “live” in “Livetronica,” Bootz & Katz puts just as much passion into performing music as they do creating it.
“When you’re rocking out to that song that you feel super prideful about and you look up and there’s all these people going absolutely nuts over it … it’s indescribable,” Walters said.
In their two years of performing, Bootz & Katz has mainly kept their performances to Middle Georgia, but the band wants to branch out to Atlanta, Athens and venues outside of Georgia.
“Right now, we just want to embrace the Middle Georgia market and play as many shows in Macon, Warner Robins and Milledgeville as possible,” Cassara said. “We have a solid following elsewhere, but nothing’s like home.”
The process of making and performing their own music has only brought the members of Bootz & Katz closer together.
“I [feel like I] have three older brothers now… because we’ve gotten really close while making all of this music,” Leveille said. “At first it was kind of foreign territory, but now we’re basically a family.”
Bootz & Katz plan to release another single and EP containing three to four new songs by March 2016.
To listen to selections from Bootz & Katz, visit https://soundcloud.com/bootzandkatz.