DONCAT is Duncan Nielsen, a San Francisco based songwriter and performer with a penchant for rock, soul and folk stylings. His songs draw from the deep history of California counter-culture music and discuss both the hope and uncertainty of the American dream in kaleidoscopic cynicism.
Vocals, Guitar / Duncan Nielsen
Bass / Chris Sugiura
Drums / Kyle Kelly-Yahner
Keys / Jesse Cafiero
Duncan Nielsen has sported the moniker ‘DONCAT’ since 2013. Since then he’s lived in a vista-abundant neighborhood in San Francisco, CA, just south of Haight-Ashbury. From almost anywhere in his house the eye can reach the eastern edge of the city, as well as downtown. On most days, just on the shoulders of the hill behind the house, fingers of heavy fog quietly creep in. While most would consider the view an inspiration, Nielsen finds it to be a distraction. He focuses his sights inward.
“The view is nice for coffee in the morning, and taking breaks, it’s a breath of fresh air. But when I’m focusing on the mood of a song, externalities distort that focus. Writing music is more of an internal and reflective process, more like scuba diving than sky diving.”
Nielsen’s youth both informs and structures his inward-facing songwriting process. As a teen, he spent the lion’s share of his time channeling classic rock and folk. In junior-high, he gifted Led Zeppelin I at a birthday party and was ostracized. By the time he entered high school, he found himself as the token kid-with-a-guitar: loved by all and known by none. This bolstered his penchant for writing iconoclastic songs, as well as skipping high school to surf alone.
These days, Nielsen moves from his grandmother’s Wurlitzer piano to his father’s hand-me-down acoustic guitar writing songs at home. He prefers not to look out the window.
DONCAT just released his new EP 'Kind of Love.' It's 6 tracks are folk-inspired snapshots of the ways we experience love. In 'Tail Off' he yearns for a stranger in a bar and the idea of what could be. In 'Light in You' he expresses remorse for having abandoned someone close. To give a feeling of intense intimacy, he put everything down on 1/4" tape in his upstairs bedroom on a 4-track recorder, building off primary takes with acoustic and vocals. While we're used to hearing a band behind him, Nielsen's vocal floats beautifully on these gentle acoustic arrangements.
To date, Nielsen’s songs have been featured in a handful of network television series and independent films. He’s opened shows for The Walkmen’s Hamilton Leithauser, Hayden, and Chuck Ragan. While he’s not writing and performing his own music, he tours with San Francisco-based Geographer as a guitarist, keyboard player and backup vocalist. His newest EP is now available everywhere.