PET POLITICS: Meet Sundance Kidd, Brooklyn’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Cat Sitter

Sundance Kidd shreds on guitar, bass, and the mic. Ze never misses a note on guitar and seems to automatically learn any song by ear. You may have seen them in a whole slew of Brooklyn’s rock bands as of late, such as Gesserit and Darkwing. Ze has also made numerous guest pop-up guest appearances singing in bands like Whiner, Halloween cover sets, Lost Boy ?, and Gustaf. You’re just as likely to see Sundance Kidd behind the camera, capturing the many action-packed moments in a live set: musicians carrying each other on their shoulders, diving off stage, rolling around through beer drenched cables, or perfectly posing for press shots. This past fall, Sundance Kidd hosted a photography show at Two Boots Pizza Williamsburg, displaying some of these raucous photographs in order to raise money for The Russel Efros Foundation to support cinematography and photography students at SVA. In their spare time, Sundance Kidd has another passion: cats. Though ze isn’t currently a pet parent, ze gets their feline fix in caring for fellow Brooklyn musicians’ cats. I present to you Brooklyn’s Rock N’ Roll Catsitter.

AF: What was your first favorite band?

SK: Led Zeppelin. They were my first tattoo as well.

Sundance Kidd’s Tribute Tat! (All photos courtesy of Tui Jorda unless otherwise noted)!

AF: When did you start playing music?

SK: When I was 13. My dad showed me a documentary about Jimmy Page and I told him I wanted to play like that. It’s funny because I played classical guitar until I 16 and bought my own electric guitar and amp. It was Korean Gibson Les Paul knockoff. But my dad helped me buy the amp which was an Orange Crush FX Amplifer that still works and has lived with me in every apartment I’ve called home. So that’s 12 years of me practicing on the same amp – wow!

Sundance Kidd’s first rock set-up.

AF: What was your first instrument?

SK: Cello! I played in my elementary school orchestra into freshman year of high school.

AF: Where did you grow up, and did you have any pets?

SK: I grew up in North New Jersey, twenty minutes from Penn Station. I always had pets. My parents were really into Chihuahuas so that’s all we had growing up. We always had multiple pets in the house at all times. I think the most dogs we had at the same time was five. Not to mention we also had other animals as well. We had Zebra Finches (Jagger, Keith, Watts, and Beep), a black cat (Styx), and my mom had this fantasy of owning horses so we had two of those (Brenden, and Cinnabar). They were very expensive pets and you could probably write an entire separate article about me being the clichè “weird horse girl” growing up.

AF: What was your first pet’s name?

SK: My first dog that was mine and bonded to me was a short-haired chihuahua named Chloe. She was 18 years old when she died and I got her when I was three.

AF: How did you get into photography?

SK: I always was interested in photography from an early age. I had a Polaroid camera when I was young child and I always have and still take so many photos on my phone where ever I go. I have a pretty crappy memory overall so I think for me photography became so important because it reminds me of things I’ve done. I can always look back at the photos I’ve taken and it jump starts my memory and takes me back to that moment.

Photograph of Lost Boy ? by Sundance Kidd

AF: Did you start off as a visual or musical artist?

SK: I think they happened at the same time. I didn’t start playing in bands until I’d say 2014/15 so pretty late in life. I didn’t start challenging myself with photography until this past year though. I think I was waiting for the right time for me to feel confident enough to show everyone my work and music.

AF: What brought you to Brooklyn?

SK: A fresh start, an opportunity to turn over a new leaf and find a sense of purpose and belonging.

AF: How did you get involved in the Brooklyn music scene?

SK: The first friend I made in Brooklyn who encouraged me to go out and meet his friends was Rich Gold of Darkwing. His friend Luke played in a project called Wolf Diamond and for about six months I was switching playing bass and drums with the three of them. That’s also how I met Lyzi Wakefield who is the brilliant mind behind Gesserit. I definitely consider her and the rest of the band my favorite people in our music community. Other than that, I’ve been friends with the members of What Moon Things, Whiner, and Smøck before I moved here. So having familiar faces around me along with the new was very comforting.

Gesserit playing at one of Our Wicked Lady’s Thursdays For The Cause Events (Photo credit: Caspar Jacobs).

AF: Can you give us a run-down of your musical projects in New York?

SK: Currently, my main dedication and primary project is Gesserit. I’ve filled in on bass and drums in other projects in Brooklyn like HARMS, Wolf Diamond, and High Waisted. I occasionally write music with my other people but it’s never a solidified unit that goes out and plays shows or records. I’m very open to the idea of playing in a second project. I’m just very particular on who I play music with. For me it’s definitely a certain chemistry that has to be present with the other players and it’s never personal. It’s just an instinct.

AF: You recently recorded in Georgia with Gesserit. What was that like?

SK: It was an incredible experience working with Drew Vanderberg (who has worked with Toro Y Moi, Of Montreal, Ra Ra Riot, and Mothers). He is one of the kindest people I ever met and extremely encouraging and patient to work with. We went together as band for about two weeks to record in the middle of nowhere in a very old Church called The Portico Study Center . To be honest, it’s long hours spending every day doing take after take. The experience overall was very rewarding and I really felt like I bonded with Lyzi, Tarra and José. It taught me a lot of self discipline as an artist and allowed me to focus on the music as well as myself without the distractions of my normal daily life in New York. Also, Drew owns two beautiful fur babies named Tallulah and Sweetpea. Sweetpea is a very special cat who has a tail that’s the size of her body. She is extremely playful and very cuddly!

Lazer Beam, daughter to Lyzi Wakefield of Gesserit and long-time pal of Sundance Kidd.

AF: One of your cat clients is Lyzi Wakefield’s kitty Lazer. What is she like?

SK: Cat Clients isn’t the word I’d use to describe the people I catsit for. They’re all very wonderful friends of mine who trust me enough to take care of their fur children while they’re away. I love animals so much and many people know how well I treat them. It’s a real privilege to be asked to take care of someone’s babies. Lazer Beam is a furry angel brought down here to Earth to protect and love Lyzi. She is such a wonderfully charming lady who loves to be cuddled and  sweetly talked to. Lazer Beam is an older cat and loves to lounge in her usual window spot and is very particular about her nap times. I love Lazer because of how expressive she is. Lazer Beam loves to smile!

Sundance Kidd enjoys some cuddles with Lazer Beam.

AF: Has a (non-human) animal ever been the subject of your art, either visual, musical, or cinematic?

SK: I’ve taken some really great pet photos of my dad’s dogs and the cats I meet throughout my life.

AF: What is your favorite song about (non-human) animals?

SK: “Ozma” by Shannon and the Clams. You think it’s a love song because you can’t really hear the words she singing, but then you listen closer and you realize she’s singing about missing her deceased bulldog, and then you get even more emotional.

AF: What is your spirit animal?

SK: People have told me I’m very puppy-like, but I don’t think I’m energetic or friendly. Personally, I think I’m a baby harp seal. I am very cute, a little chubby, a prankster, curious, and I love being stationary and lounging around (I do ten things at once most of the time so when I do get a moment to myself I love to be lazy).

AF: If you were a cat, where would you sleep? And would you be a back snoozer or more of a loaf-kitty or crescent sleeper?

SK: I would sleep cuddled up with my person because I love cuddles. I think I would be a crescent sleeper. I like to take up the entire bed and all the space to myself!

AF: You also cat-sit for Jess from High Waisted. What is her kitty friend like?

SK: Baby Burger is forever a youthful kitten! She is extremely affectionate and very vocal. She is a very good listener and usually will talk back to you. She loves to be held and cuddled which is why she is my favorite cat to sit for. She also is a total HAM for photos and poses for you!

Baby Burger, daughter to Jessica Louise Dye of High Waisted, and little buddy of Sundance Kidd.
Sundance Kidd and Baby Burger.

AF: Any other feline friends to note?

SK: The Kirch Kittens whose mommy is Natalie of Sharkmuffin [and author of this column] and daddy is Davey of Lost Boy ?…

The Kirch Kittens (Photos by Natalie Kirch)

… Sweetpea, whose daddy is Drew (our Gesserit producer)…

Sweet Pea
Sundance Kidd embracing Sweet Pea.

…Poopy whose mommies are Tine (of Gustaf) and Helena…

Sundance Kidd and Poopy (Photo by Tine Hill)

… Also, not a cat but I love her – Harriet whose mommies are Angela (of Gustaf) and Marisa.

AF: You are clearly an animal lover. Why haven’t you adopted a kitty of your own in Brooklyn?

SK: Because my landlord wants a ridiculous amount of money for a pet fee. But next apartment will definitely be pet friendly.

Sundance Kidd probably crying because their landlord won’t allow pets.

AF: Share one of your funniest tour stories.

SK: The final day of recording in Athens, Georgia I felt so satisfied playing that final take I went and canoed like five miles down a river and just cried out of bliss.

Sundance Kidd’s Georgia canoe ride.

AF: You just performed with Gustaf at The Haybaby Cat Farm on New Year’s Eve and Our Wicked Lady. When can we see you perform next?

SK: January 13th at Baby’s All Right with New Myths and Darkwing, February 7th at Secret Project Robot with Shadow Year, Parrot Dream, and Dances, and February 3rd at Baby’s All Right with Cindy Cane, Gustaf, and Glove.

AF: Any other shows, concerts, or releases we should look out for in 2019?

SK: I’m just stoked to see my friends doing what they love live and always discovering new music while making friends! However there are some bands (also my friends) who I’d particularly love to give a shout out to because of how much they’ve done for me this past year – these bands have either asked me to take photos of them, booked shows with me, played countless shows, and overall be consistently wonderful friends: Sharkmuffin, Gustaf, HARMS, What Moon Things, pecas, Smock, Shadow Year, Looms, Whiner, Dead Tooth, Cindy Cane, High Waisted, THICK, Half-Wet , and Nice Knife.