Chloe Chaidez of Kitten promises 'lots of big things' after a very productive year in music
NYC 's power pop quartet Kitten have released their 'Pink Champagne' EP and three more singles this year. But there's more to come assures frontwoman Chloe Chaidez.
New York City's power pop quarter Kitten have been quite productive this year. Earlier in June, they released their new EP 'Pink Champagne', a follow up to 2016's 'Heaven Or Somewhere In Between' that was well received by fans and critics alike. Three months later, this past September, Kitten released their double-single 'Secrets', which featured two new tracks, 'Secrets' and 'Mercury'. The double-single saw the quirky outfit strut into new territory yet again on their latest releases for Red Music. Last month, they followed it up with yet another delightful pop number titled 'Oh My God'. They've also been touring heavily, headlining the Bootleg Theater in LA last month and following it up with a string of dates in support of Blue October.
It's been four years since the band launched its debut studio album, and with all this sudden burst of activity, I couldn't help but wonder if something big was around the corner for the band. Perhaps the much-awaited sophomore record? So Meaww directed its questions to leading lady Chloe Chaidez for all the details.
"Oh definitely. Lots of big things," Chloe confirmed, before adding carefully: "I actually can't discuss it right now, but yeah... I guess people will have to wait and find out."
Kitten have magnetically attracted a diehard fan base since the release of 2014's self-titled debut. Not only did the record bow at #9 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart, but it also yielded the hit 'Cut It Out.' While touring with everyone from No Doubt and Paramore to Charli XCX and Garbage, the group consistently earned the praise of fans and critics alike. Their standout 2016 EP, 'Heaven or Somewhere in Between', landed on Rolling Stone's coveted year-end 20 Best Pop Albums of 2016.
But the band has been around for much longer than you'd expect, officially forming in 2009. Chloe revealed how the journey started, as a bunch of young inspiring musicians looked to perfect their sound. "Well I had my old band that was a band of young kids and we were somewhat of a novelty act I would say," Chloe recollects. "So by the end of middle school, I'd been with the band for three or four years. And I wanted to move on and write my own material. I met a producer who was a friend of my dad's and he gave me some of his songs and we began a relationship - a creative one - that lasted for a while, ultimately forming Kitten."
"But at that age, doing anything professionally in music, you definitely need some help. Between my dad and the producer I'd met, I had enough help to do it in a real way," the 23-year-old singer-songwriter says. Music has been a big part of Chloe's life, starting off pretty early in life. By the time she was 12, she was already opening for indie bands such as Midlake, Band of Horses and Conor Oberst. "By eleven, I was playing in a band. It wasn't anything serious or anything but we would cover bands like Band Of Horses, who we opened for a couple of times," Chloe reveals.
Her early interest in music stemmed from her father who was a drummer in Los Angeles' early punk scene. "My dad was a musician and I got my rock education at an early age thanks to him," she says.
When I asked Chloe about how the curious name for the band came about, she mulled over it for a while. "The name Kitten... It just sounded iconic and simple. I guess something along the lines of Blondie or Prince or something like that," Chloe said before admitting ironically that she isn't really a fan of cats or kittens!
We also discussed Kitten's latest volume of work. 'Secrets', which premiered on The Fader and has been described as "a thunderous, Pat Benatar-level stomper," while 'Mercury' comes from a really personal space, with Chloe using her parents' divorce as inspiration to form a song that "wraps family trauma in sparkling disco catharsis."
Talking about the double single, Chloe said: "The band and I wrote the songs about two years ago. They actually came about while jamming. We were all plugged in and playing and I just started singing melodies and words over what the band was playing."
"I reworked 'Mercury' lyrically after the song had already been formed. I wanted to give it a sort of deeper meaning. It was a nonsensical love song at first and I rewrote it about my parents' divorce. And I sort of cracked that moment lyrically where the flame on 'Mercury' was re-ignited and that's how the song came to be."
"With 'Secrets', we really tinkered over it for a long, long time. There were probably ten different versions of just the verse and we were constantly rewriting it. Finally, we landed on how it sounds now. I think you can hear the work in the song. It's a roller coaster ride. It doesn't have a typical arrangement. I think on the next record, we're gonna maybe put some of those things down, but I'm really proud of it."
As best exemplified on 'Mercury', the band has a knack for juxtaposing ridiculously merry pop-glazed melodies with equally melancholic and deep lyrical themes. It's a deadly combination that has been sweeping the world of pop and indie rock over the last decade with acts like The 1975, Chvrches, Arcade Fire and the likes championing the format. I asked Chloe what makes the approach so compelling and Chloe was quick to answer.
"You could easily say that it's a musical and lyrical display of how we feel about our lives," Chloe says. "We go about our day and we're constantly in the juxtaposition of maybe outwardly presenting yourself a certain way but feeling another inside. I think the way that in human interactions, you may be masking something but there's a little bit of truth to your connection with that person even if you're hurting inside. Life is not just black and white and I think neither should music."
I asked Chloe how she and the band arrived at their signature sound. "I think that was a bigger question when I was a kid. I was just a singer with the cool boys and I didn't really know how I wanted my music to sound," Chloe admitted. "As I got older, the music that I ended up making... it's inescapable for me. I love groovy basslines. I like music that is danceable. I think a lot of the way music sounds has to do with the way I sing as well. I don't want to pat myself on the back but I've grown into a real character with my voice."
In the last decade or so since the band formed, Kitten has gone through a bunch of changes in the lineup as well, with Chloe remaining as the sole creative force behind the band. After their second EP 'Cut It Out' (2012), drummer Max Kuehn, guitarist/keyboardist Elvis Kuehn and bassist Zach Carper quit the band to fully commit to FIDLAR, the second band they were juggling at the time. Another EP followed and new members Waylon Rector, Zach Bilson, and Lukas Frank exited the band, only to briefly rejoin and then leave again.
"Most people haven't had a band for 10 years," Chloe says, confirming that Kitten has a steady lineup for now. "Instead of changing the name of the band, I kept the name and I moved on from one group of musicians to another. It really boils down to the fact that I've been doing it for so long under this band name. But of course, revolving lineups are crazy!"
Kitten's latest offering arrives in the form of the single 'Oh My God', a track that abandons most of the band's rock aesthetic to embrace fluttering synths, poppy drums and a soulful piano interlude. It's driven by Chloe's amazing vocals, which hits a higher register than usual on this track, with each line forming like a gasp reminiscent of Beth Gibbons of Portishead.
"'Oh My God' was also a bit of a journey to finish," Chloe says. "It was composed a long time ago with another producer and it sort of mingled into band form. I think my singing took a departure from the 'Pink Champagne' and I love the way it came out."
In the unlikeliest of collaborations, Chloe recently featured on Dirty Heads' single 'Visions,' which is currently in the top 30 on the Alternative Radio charts. "That was a really cool phone call to receive," Chloe says about how she ended up on the track. "I came into the studio and busted it out honestly. It was really fun. I've never sung something like that and it was just an honor to have been asked."
As mentioned earlier, Chloe and the band are currently on the road and will soon be performing a handful of shows in Texas, opening for alt rockers Blue October. Later in the winter, they're set to open for Smashing Pumpkins, who are currently touring in support of their comeback album 'Shiny and Oh So Bright Vol. 1'.
"I think they're going to be the biggest shows yet with this band," Chloe says about performing with Blue October. "They're from Texas and I'm really excited to go there with them."
The ball has been set rolling for Kitten and Chloe assures me yet again that although things are under the wraps for now, fans can definitely expect more awesome music and more shows. They're also looking to get back into the studio between their gig schedule and it'll be exciting to see what that turns into. For now, we can only wait and watch.
For tickets to gigs and updates on the latest from Kitten, visit their official website.