When asked how he would introduce himself to the world, Shaun Hettinger simply exclaims, “I’m synth-pop artist Memoryy & I just wrote the theme song for the new Netflix Chelsea Handler show.”
Yes. You read that right. He’s got some writing chops.
But his story began many moons ago, with an LA-based synth-rock band that played together for eight years. When they broke up, he moved across the country to start his own synth-pop band. The name? Kitten Berry Crunch. (You read that right as well.) After releasing some cat videos and working toward more serious songs, Shaun has changed his name–and his game–to Memoryy. Besides his work with Chelsea Handler, he has also released official remixes with artists like Ron Pope, Paperwhite, and Color Theory. His newest single is titled “Out of The Dark”.
When did you decide to pursue music as a career?
As a kid, I studied the piano for 13 years. I knew I was in trouble when I would skip Track practice to just play the piano & write songs for 3 hours instead. When I was 6, I got my first keyboard for Christmas– a red Yamaha keytar that played Wham’s “Last Christmas” as the demo song – and that was definitely a life changing moment.
Why the moniker “MEMORYY?”
Well it sure beats the first name (Kitten Berry Crunch)! I picked Memoryy because it’s a modern twist on looking back, which is somewhat of a metaphor for the updated 80’s music I make.
How has the writing process and collaboration dynamic changed from when you were in a band to now, as you work (mostly) solo?
Playing Electro-Pop music live can be a difficult thing. By it’s nature, someone (like me) ends up writing & programming the music on the album, and then for the live band version you hand out those parts, with varying degrees of freedom to the musicians playing it. The next thing you know, the live version takes on a life of it’s own – which can be a good or a bad thing. (“You don’t sound like your recording at all!” is either an after show compliment or an alienated fan complaint.)
I’m a producer by nature so working solo is ideal for me to achieve a singular vision for a song, instead of muddying the waters with too many other opinions.
Collaboration still happens (with studio players, mixers, etc) but it’s now an option & not a guarantee. I now write in the studio, which is perfect! Every happy accident can evolve into it’s own song.
You’ve been all over the map! From LA to Brooklyn to Albuquerque… what has been your favorite place to live, and why?
Brooklyn! There’s a feeling when you know it’s time to leave a city (it was that way with LA for me, for way too long before I finally acted on it). I didn’t have that with Brooklyn – it was a “So long for now”, not a “Goodbye forever.”
There’s just a magic feeling in NYC. There’s nowhere like it on earth. (And I don’t even have to mention my favorite bars, restaurants, parks & people…)
We’re kind of in love with your bio on Facebook. Did you really make cat videos, or is this a ruse to attract all the crazy cat ladies of the world?
Hey, the only reason I’m still here talking to you today is because of those cat music videos! The very first one landed me Kitten Berry Crunch’s debut performance opening up for the guys from The Rapture DJ set.
Later I wanted to rebrand the Kitteny name from “cute & cuddly” to something darker.
(You’re welcome, internets.)
You’ve had six consecutive Top 20 chartings on HypeMachine. What was that like? (Be honest… did you pee your pants?)
The pee wasn’t directly because of the HypeMachine love, I think it was already there just a little bit & I just didn’t notice until the Top 20 thing…
Yeh it’s amazing! But it’s always like, well now what? I guess I need to conquer Instagram next or set my sights higher. I want to play the first concert on Mars. Maybe a tribute concert to David Bowie?
You wrote the theme music for Chelsea Handler’s new show on Netflix. That’s AMAZING! How did that collaboration happen?
So in March I quit my underwear-retouching job in NYC, moved to Albuquerque & started working on music full time. (I have a tv/film music production company, Keytarred And Feathered.) I was emailing out some of the early songs to a few LA contacts, including my old Squares’ bandmate Jeff Wild – who is now a writer for Chelsea Handler. He got one of my songs in the Top 4 competition with some of THE biggest names in music today – it was crazy. And I rightfully lost at that point, ha.
Only later things didn’t work out & they hit reset on the song search, so I floated a newer song their way which eventually became the theme song! It was a topsy-turvy, stressful few weeks until it was all said & done. I’m still pinching myself that I got it! Her fans are awesome & if they’re reading this: WE ARE WORKING ON RELEASING IT SOON! (That just saved me hundreds of tweets.)
Your newest single “Out Of The Dark” is really fun! What was the writing/producing process like for it?
Well after a series of moodier tracks, I definitely wanted to write an upbeat song with a nod to one of my heroes, New Order. Lyrically the song is a protest song – what it takes to spark a revolution. I’m sick & tired of anti-science / anti-rational thought politicians holding us back, and I don’t know if you’ve turned on the TV or if you’re aware, but it is an election season. ha
We saw that Brothertiger worked with you on “Out Of The Dark.” How did that collaboration come to fruition?
John Jagos (Brothertiger) is a really good friend & he’s been my go-to collaborator for my last EP & a lot of my newer singles (including “Feeling Sinister”). He gets me, he gets synths, he’s got a killer studio & great ideas. Even now, I’m constantly emailing him stuff to tweak for me.
John’s known for being a synth guy, but he slayed on those “Out of the Dark” guitar parts. It’s my favorite part in the song!
Not going to lie, we really love your track “Feeling Sinister.” How was that received by the public?
Well as I’m sure you’re aware, it’s up for the Grammy this year. Thanks for plugging that! (Kidding.)
Yeh, it did pretty good! It made some moves on HypeMachine, got on a few Spotify playlists, and only recently (in March) a Youtube channel (AlexRainBird) included it on a compilation that has over 200k views. I also got contacted that “a European retailer that wishes to remain anonymous” included it on their in-store playlist. So if anyone’s buying bejeweled jeans in Monaco & hears it playing, please let me know! I’m curious who my mysterious benefactor is.
What serves as inspiration for your music?
If I’m not working on music, I get a lot of anxiety… My happy place is inside my headphones with a synth under my fingers.
What do you envision as the best environment to listen to your music in?
My music is best suited to be playing at the dance party freakout portion of a doggy-wedding reception. In between the couples’ first “dance” (walk) & when they cut the “cake” – which we all know is actually just a giant milkbone.
But hopefully it’s closer to the milkbone thing, because as it goes on everyone gets drunker & loosens up.
What do you have to say about the sudden loss of so many music icons in the industry? (RIP)
I think we have an epidemic on our hands! Seriously hide your Madonnas, hide your George Michaels! Someone escort Paul McCartney into an underground bunker ASAP. And where’s the outrage? Can we get a Congressional Inquiry, or an NBC “the more you know” style PSA with the cast of Friends?
(Pours out many drinks for 2 of my greatest heroes: David Bowie & Prince.
What’s coming up for MEMORYY?
Hopefully figuring out with Netflix how we can release the Chelsea theme next! I got more Memoryy singles ready to roll out ahead of the full length album coming late summer, and I’m already underway with the next next album. Keep your eyes peeled for a bunch of remixes I’ve been doing for other artists – Troy, Reighnbeau, Tanis, & X-Factor finalist Tim Olstad.
Keep up with news on his upcoming LP here.