Mon, 09 Sep 2013 07:56:24
KITTEN's Like a Stranger EP combines eerie pop familiarity with a synth soul reminiscent of the best new wave had to offer. It's a swirling and soaring menagerie of sounds, merging into one undeniable trip. This Stranger is worth welcoming in…
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Chloe Chaidez of KITTEN talks the EP and so much more.
Like a Stranger flows as a complete vision. What ties it together for you?
It's intended to hopefully sound that way. We used a lot of old keyboard sounds like JUNOs and Jupiters. A lot of those new wave sounds that artists from those eras used ties the sound together. Also, the artists and bands I was listening to really came through in the recording, which is unavoidable I guess. That all brings it together.
Who are some of those artists?
Eurythmics, New Order, Tears for Fears, The Pet Shop Boys—I think all of that new wave-y pop came through. I've been influenced by that for a long time, but I dove even heavier into it recently.
Kitten has its own vibe and spirit at the same time. That shines through on the EP.
Yeah, I think so too. With everything I do and we do, I definitely don't it to be a sort of kitsch homage project because it's not. I think all of us listen to a good dose of what you can hear on the record and that eighties pop. We also listen to a lot of newer electronic music. That will always seep through what we do. I love Purity Ring and all of these other artists. I was also listening to a lot of R&B at the time. That slipped in there.
What's the story behind "Doubt"?
That one really was a springboard for the sound to come. I wanted to make a four-on-the-floor dance song. I sat down on my laptop and wrote that chorus. I thought, "This is maybe one of the biggest pop choruses I've ever written". I wasn't quite sure how I felt about it at first. Once Waylon Rector our guitar player spiced it up, we meshed that electronic demo with the band, and it turned into something really cool. I think the chorus is full of yearning. It's darkly romantic. A lot of my lyrics come from imagery as opposed to a folk story, you know?
What else inspires you outside of music?
I wouldn't necessarily say I watch a great David Lynch movie and want to write a song about it. It's more bits of imagery that make a full story itself. I feel like a lot of times, I'll write something, look back at it later, and realize what it meant to me then. Usually, it will make some sort of sense. A lot of times, it's how the words work phonetically with what the music is evoking for me. Then, it's how the words play off of each other as opposed to making a grand statement about culture right now or writing about the love of my life breaking my heart. I love words and how they're put together. That's what writing is to me and figuring out the personal meaning later.
How did "Graffiti Soul" come together?
Well, the title is a Simple Minds record. Going back to lyrical influence, a lot of times, I scroll through my iTunes records, look at a book, or something with a lot of cool words. There was also really cool kit on Ableton that I liked. Also, lyrically, I was channeling my inner Prince for that one. It's that "When You Were Mine" idea.
Do lyrical ideas come while you're making beats and the music?
It really depends. I'd say half the record is made from my beats or whatever. The other half comes from an acoustic guitar. It really depends on the song. If we're talking about singing over the beats, usually a vibe will be created on Ableton and then after that, I'll think of what lyrics will come second. Then, it transfers to an acoustic guitar to hone in on the song.
If you were to compare the EP to a movie or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
It'd probably be a John Hughes movie like The Breakfast Club or Pretty in Pink. I feel the music is very nostalgic. Although I didn't grow up in this era of the music I make or love, it still reminds me and other people of their youth—even though I am in my youth. I want it to remind people of some impossible youth they never had, or possibly did have.
What artists shaped you?
My dad was in an eighties punk band so he played me a lot of punk. As I got older, he also loved classic rock like David Bowie. That stuff doesn't necessarily influence me in any way now, but it was my foundation. It was an equal balance between that classic rock and newer music you'd get from a CMJ mixtape like Sigur Ros and Band of Horses.
Have you heard KITTEN yet?