Hailing from the Catskill Mountains in Upstate New York is Carter Lou McElroy, aka ‘Cyote’, bringing with them their own unique strain of soulful, sultry, dark songs to our world in these uncertain times in the form of their newly released debut single, “Red”. Released through Mon Amie Records in February, the song details Cyote’s history with New York City – a bustling metropolis bursting at the seams with young artists and hopefuls, each wishing to bring their visions into reality. Accompanying the song itself is a wonderfully done video featuring impressionistic scenes of the city interspersed with ghastly figures that draw up and disappear from the ether while the song drums along in the background.
The lyrics themselves are quite impressionistic, too, hopping around from scene to scene in a catalogue-esque manner: “Cherries, strawberries, wine, a vine of the poisonous kind, candy canes, candied veins…”. These images fuse to create stunningly vivid pictures of Cyote’s New York City, processed through a unique pair of artist’s eyes, viewing the world in a way that’s not only evocative and special, but very original.
The sonics in “Red” are deceptively understated, but undeniably impressive. The drums, seeming somewhat distant from the listener, thump in a hypnotic rhythm that perfectly accentuates the minimal instrumentation hovering above them; namely, the equally hypnotizing guitar riff that spirals and twists throughout the song, burrowing into the listener’s memory. Of course, it would be a crime to fail to mention Cyote’s smooth, mysterious voice that has a certain je ne sais quoi I’ve yet to place my finger on, but it’s in some ways reminiscent of the vocal styles of Nai Palm from Hiatus Kaiyote and Amber Navran of Moonchild. Cyote takes those vocals in a slightly different direction, however, with a more understated approach. All of the artistic decisions that comprise “Red” culminate in a work that draws listeners in with its alluring mystique.
Cyote’s debut single is an impressive piece, and holds much promise. If this is Cyote just getting started, I’m excited to see where they go from here.
So what’s the inspiration behind “Red”? “Red” illustrates both my history and future with New York City. 10 years ago, I arrived with a relentlessly optimistic spirit and have truly experienced both sides of the coin here. I’ve been homeless, and I’ve been lucky. I’ve earned rewards and suffered deep losses. It has never been easy, and I’ve considered leaving more times than I can count – but here I am, still here. Still trying to fulfill the same dreams I initially arrived with.
What’s next for Cyote? That’s a relative question for just about all of us these days, right? Well, as you know, it is the age of “social distancing”, and life as we have known it will likely never be the same. This being such a turning point for so many, it’s been a very inspiring time to write. So, I’m working on finishing a 5-ish song “Quarantine” EP that will feel a lot more raw and edgy.
Who are some of your musical inspirations? Fiona Apple’s attitude and lyrics. Stevie Nicks’ witchery. Patti Smith’s politics. And anyone who’s got a soulful twang to their vibe.
What’s a song or artist you can’t stop listening to? Nai Palm from Hiatus Kaiyote is a goddess. You can hear her heart in everything she sings.
What’s your favorite part about life in the Catskill Mountains? My fire pit, fresh pizza from Be Golden Farms, and swimming holes in the summertime.
What’s a fun fact about Carter Lou McElroy? I used to be a professional mime.
What might the rest of 2020 have in store for you? Looking to foster a pup, so if anyone has any shelter recommendations for Upstate New York – holler! (@_cyote_). Outside of that, I’d like to release the “Quarantine” EP, another video or two, and some collaborations with other artists local to Brooklyn as well as Upstate NY. You can also find me behind the helm of Girlie Action Media (www.girlieaction.com) – supporting rad artists putting out music right now during a time when we need it more than ever. In addition, I also work as the Music Supervisor for the ‘For the Wild’ podcast (www.forthewild.world/listen) which will be announcing a new series next week! (@for.the.wild on Insta for updates)
Closing words: We may have lost the ability to leave our homes for now, but I do believe it’s because there is a giant collective need for rest and re-evaluation of the rhythm of our lives and the things that should be most important. Tonight, as I write the answers to these questions, I pulled the tarot card “Temperance” and, perhaps, for a reason. So, I’d like to leave you with its meaning: “Life is not static, and neither are our needs – they vary across a lifetime and across each situation. Through listening and awareness, the universe reveals what your soul truly needs, not just what your ego wants. If you can put your perceptions and impatience aside, you create space for alchemy.”