Under the moniker of Katalyst, producer/DJ/label boss Ashley Anderson had an important role in furthering the cause of intelligent hip-hop in general, and its Southern Hemisphere subset in particular, while also creating a diverse catalog of dance remixes, original soul, and funk. Before he settled on the name Katalyst, Anderson worked under the name of Moonrock. A self-titled album in 1998 and a few tracks on the Café del Mar compilation series of songs to watch sunsets in Ibiza to were the main products of his Moonrock period.
After deciding to release new music under a name that made him sound less like one of Frank Zappa's children, the first Katalyst song was pressed onto the distinctively green vinyl of one of the Dope on Plastic records. In 2001 Katalyst and friend Geoff Barrow, producer/instrumentalist and founder of Portishead, began their own label, Invada Records. That label's first release was 2002's Manipulating Agent, Anderson's first album under his new moniker. It was followed a year later by a remix album, Agent Manipulated.
After doing remix work for the likes of Gift of Gab, Machine Gun Fellatio, Ugly Duckling, and the Next Men and spending more and more time focused on the business side of running a label, Katalyst returned to recording in 2007 with What's Happening. Broadening his scope, he worked with vocalists from the rap world as well as soul singers like Stephanie McKay and Steve Spacek and rock vocalist Adalita Srsen of the band Magic Dirt. To lend a sense of unification to the varied material, he called on each performer to write a social commentary song about something current and political, hence the title What's Happening, which was a reference to Marvin Gaye's What's Going On. Continuing the theme, the film clip for "Say What You Feel" (featuring Stephanie McKay) mingled black-and-white footage from protest marches of the '60s, the '70s, and the 2000s.