Q&A: In-Studio Chat With KITTEN + New Album Sneak Peek
By Cynthia Orgel; Photos by Cynthia Orgel and KITTEN on February 4, 2013
After one glance at the album artwork for KITTEN's most recent release, Cut It Out—the follow-up EP to 2010's Sunday School—prepare to be entranced by 18-year-old frontwoman, Chloe Chaidez, and her immaculate, gold-painted skin, also noticeable in the L.A. dance-rock outfit's official video for the title track.
Turns out KITTEN wasn't decked out in gold paint last week, when FILTER caught up with three-fourths of the band at their Pasadena studio, dearly dubbed "Tokers' Corner." However, Chaidez, Bryan DeLeon (keys) and guitarist Waylon Rector managed to outshine the sunny January afternoon with animated talk about their first full-length record, drummer Lukas Frank being Matt Damon's doppelgänger, locking in a fifth member on bass and why there is a reason for everyone and their mom to see KITTEN live.
Also below is a special sneak peek into the upcoming LP—with an estimated April arrival date—that we were lucky enough to hear in the studio, alongside engineer, Gavin MacKillop, and songwriting companion/producer Chad Anderson.
I was watching footage from your Bootleg Bar show and it was incredible. Stage presence is top-notch, like 100%. How do you feel on stage?
Chaidez: I honestly feel really at home and really relaxed—probably the most relaxed I feel ever in life. Yeah, really in my element. I feel like a track runner would feel on the track.
Or as a gymnast would feel…when did that stop? Or does it still continue?
Chaidez: I stopped doing that when I was 12, just because it was taking up too much of my life. Although it probably taught me a lot of great discipline and stuff for what I’m doing now.
You're quoted in a press release about how, [at a show], if there’s one person you feel like isn’t totally there, you want to do all you can to get them in the moment, to reel them in basically. I love that you want every single person to be present—just as present as you are.
Chaidez: I think that’s one of my main goals when I’m performing: [getting] whoever’s not watching me to be watching me.
How do you do that?
Chaidez: Honestly, I used to be a lot more wild, like when I was 15 or 16. [At a past festival], we kind of played a smaller stage. I climbed up this really tall speaker that was probably 20 feet high, and twice, security wrangled me off the speakers. Stuff like that.
Oh, and then I used to pour water on myself. And spit all the time. I don’t think any of it was intentional, but I just had so much built up something that I needed to get out in that moment—whether that was through saliva, or punching someone, or whatever.
Waylon Rector and Bryan DeLeon join the chat:
What are you guys up to?
DeLeon: I just got over being like the sickest I’ve ever been in my life...I thought it was weird because I was sick, and then I almost wasn’t sick, and then I got even more sick. I was telling people about it and they were like, ‘dude, the same thing happened to me.’ So it’s this weird double-flu that’s going around. Super flu.
Rector: Recording guitar parts for the new record as well as getting a little sick. I’ve got a little bit of a sore throat.
DeLeon: You’re always sick. And you’re also allergic to everything.
Whose immune system is best in the band?
DeLeon: I feel like it should be Lukas, because he only eats vegetables, but he’s always sick, so it’s probably Chloe by default.
Chaidez: No, dude. I just don’t bitch about it when I’m sick. If I have a stuffy nose, I’m not going to just lay in bed all day.
DeLeon: Chloe is secretly the toughest out of all of us.
Who has bass duties now? Or no bassist at the moment?
Chaidez: We’ve been getting guys to fill in for the record and shows—friends and stuff—but now we’ve got an official guy.
DeLeon: We’re not ready to reveal him to the world just yet.
Chaidez: It’s kind of sad for our fans though [and] we always feel bad, especially [for] L.A. shows—having different bass players. What was the analogy you used one time? [she asks DeLeon]. It’s like your mom having different boyfriends all the time?
DeLeon: Every time your friends come over, it’s like, ‘Hey, your mom’s got a new boyfriend!” Super embarrassing.
Chaidez: So we don’t want that anymore.
Well, we’re excited to meet the official boyfriend.
DeLeon: He’s our new husband.
For fans who love both of your EPs, what can you tell them about the full-length? How does it stray from those, or how is it similar?
Chaidez: I think it brings in a lot more elements from our live show into the record, which we’ve been developing for a long time. That will be really nice—kind of a grander vibe sonically. I think it’s also a little more sexy, rhythm-wise, and with the beats. What do you guys think?
DeLeon: It bumps in the whip.
Chaidez: Oh yeah, definitely. Personally, that’s been something I’ve been really into over the past six months/year: sex oozing from music.
Have there been certain albums in particular that have been getting you in the mood for these sexy vibes?
Chaidez: Miguel and his new record, a lot of R&B, Bedtime Stories.
A few of us in the office the other day were having this conversation about the term ‘guilty pleasure,’ and how maybe it’s silly, because you love what you love.
DeLeon: I don’t believe in guilty pleasures.
Rector: Uhh, I have some guilty pleasures…
DeLeon: Waylon’s kind of uptight about what he listens to, but I’m gonna go ahead and say that I have no shame in what I listen to. I get a lot of shit sometimes in the van.
Chaidez: Also, it depends who I’m talking to, especially right now. Some people will think that what I like is a guilty pleasure and that I’m listening to it ironically, but I’m totally not. Dude, have you listened to Future? [asks the band]
DeLeon: Yeah. I got Pluto when it was like just a mixtape.
Chaidez: SO GOOD.
Chaidez: I feel like a lot of R&B and hip-hop right now is capturing the quality of production that’s right now and super fresh, that not a lot of other artists can do because it’ll just end up sounding really shitty and Top 40. But they can do it in a way that I think is really cool, and push it to the extreme, and make it sound super clean. Oh, [the forthcoming album] is a little R&B-influenced.
Were you all friends from school originally?
Chaidez: I met Lukas at a party. I had known about our drummer for years. He doesn’t know that, but I did.
From him being in other bands?
Chaidez: From him being the only kind of young, good drummer. And a lot of girls used to like him too.
DeLeon: Yeah, he looks like Matt Damon. Long answer short: we all know each other just through mutual friends. I knew our drummer because I went to high school with him. [Chaidez] met him at a party and had a bunch of mutual friends. We all met Waylon because we played in bands together. So basically that’s it. Just the circle of L.A. kids.
Why should fans make sure they get their asses to your shows?
Chaidez: Our live shows are really special to this whole band.
Waylon: Vibe city.
DeLeon: It’s cliché to say, but I think there really is something for everyone. My mom will come to the shows and she’ll be like, ‘Chloe is so pretty. She sings so nice and I love the slow songs.’ But then, we opened for HORSE the band once, who’s like this hardcore band, and people were losing their shit. People were crowd surfing and push-moshing during our set, because it’s really high energy at times.
I used to only play in punk bands, and I still only go to punk shows, [but] honestly, if I wasn’t in this band, and I saw this band, I’d be like, ‘this is tight.’ It’s really poppy, which I love, but there are times when it’s really aggressive too. That’s what kids like. Kids can deny it all day—when I say ‘kids,’ I mean anyone from like 13 to 24—but kids just want to go nuts at some point, and I think our music has the potential to make people lose their shit and also to just vibe out. F