Back in January, Dillon Greenberg learned that her beloved Lucy had a tumor. Surgery on the cat ran to around $6,000, a number she couldn’t afford. The cat would live, after Greenberg was able to pony up about two-thirds of the money by asking people on GoFundMe, and Lucy would eventually be cancer free. Months later, Greenberg, a local actress who has landed gigs doing Macbeth and King Lear that were put on by Commonwealth Shakespeare Company and once made a web series on YouTube some years ago called “MARIAS,” decided her next move was singing a short album of Christmas music about her cat.
She enlisted Kaeli Earle, a friend in Seattle who plays in the band High Pulp and who put out her own Dostoevsky-themed EP titled “Karamozov” earlier this year, under the moniker Kiklene. Her EP with Greenberg, with the holiday music about Greenberg’s cat, came out last week.
“Kaeli is a very good cat auntie, and she’s very close to Lucy as well,” said Greenberg.
At the center of the recording is an original song they wrote called “Merry Christmas, Lucy,” which tells the story of how much Greenberg loves her cat, complete with chiming christmas bells.
“The best thing about Christmas music is that it’s timeless,” said Greenberg.
“Merry Christmas, Lucy, nothing else matters unless I’m with my baby,” Greenberg sings. “They told me I’d lose you, and that made me sad…but a Christmas miracle happened, and you are here to stay!”
It sounds like the kind of jaunty Christmas tune you’d hear while standing in line to see Santa at the mall, the beat reminiscent of Kelly Clarkson’s “Underneath the Tree” or Ariana Grande’s “Santa Tell Me.” Greenberg’s own voice is bubbly, bright and captures a sense of holiday cheer, and Earle’s backing harmonies make the song sound full of life. Their EP also contains versions of some other classic Christmas songs, like a marijuana-themed parody of “The 12 Days of Christmas” which features a “big bag of premium weed” instead of “a partridge and a pear tree” and a vocally powerful rendition of “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” with a couple lines about Lucy woven in throughout.
“Throughout the process, we ended up throwing in a couple lines here and there referring to Lucy,” Earle says.
Earle had flown out from her home on the west coast and spent a week recording in Greenberg’s apartment, where her boyfriend Derek Buckwalter runs something he calls Mantra Music Studios.
“That was a process between Derek and I over many, many months,” said Earle. “Recording in just a week was crazy.”
Buckwalter is himself a local DJ under the moniker RZN8R who has spun at spots like Silo and the Sovereign. According to his Spotify artist bio, Buckwalter says his music is inspired by “new thought spirituality and beats” to “craft deep, lush, hypnotic grooves.” According to Greenberg, Buckwalter was on hand to help “produce and master” the music about his girlfriend’s cat.
The pair moved to Bushwick three years ago from Bed-Stuy, after they found a spot near the Morgan L station. Greenberg says she was personally drawn to the “big Latino culture in Bushwick.”
Buckwalter had also been drawn to the neighborhood’s club scene.
“Derek also likes the proximity to the music venues since he plays around here,” said Greenberg. “We don’t have plans to leave anytime soon”
Greenberg told me that she believes that Lucy had seemingly taken to her boyfriend’s recording business.
“I feel like Lucy is kind of a mascot for Mantra Music Studios,” she said. “She was always happy whenever we were recording.”
When I asked where Lucy’s favorite spot in Bushwick was, Greenberg and Earle both laughed.
“She is not a cat that likes to go out,” said Greenberg.
Even though Lucy prefers to stay in, Greenberg is an avid supporter of the artist scene in Bushwick, as she loves to watch her boyfriend play shows, where he’s opened for somewhat notable DJs like A-trak and bands like Chromeo and TV Girl.
It’s the first that Greenberg, who has a degree in musical theater from the Catholic University of America, is releasing music, which she is doing by herself. She’s told me that she’s already reached out to various online radio stations around the world, from a British website called “The Sound Lab” to one in Uganda called Ejazz Radio, in efforts to get people to listen to her Christmas music.
“It’s so lively,” she said. “There’s always artists to meet. I’ll always be there to support Derek.”
“Merry Christmas, Lucy” is out now.
Images courtesy of Dillon Greenberg.
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