KITTEN: ’80s-Inspired Indie Darlings Rock

Raised on a steady diet of New Wave, Britpop and Punk by way of East L.A, Chloe Chaidez of Kitten has seemingly popped out of a rock’n’roll laboratory. But don’t let the girlish band name fool you, this teenage upstart knows her way around a stage and diving off it.

Words: Laura Smith

Making waves on the LA rock scene with their Sunday School EP back in 2010, Kitten continues full steam ahead with catchy-rock riffs and grungy music videos off their follow-up EP, Cut it Out. Bringing a high-energy sound with just the right amount of modern swagger and dancey instrumentals, Chloe Chaidez is well on her way to leading lady status; just like her Rock idols of Siouxsie Sioux and Martha Davis.

Playing in her first band at age 10, and later on, in an all-teen cover group called Wild Youth, Chloe’s been making music far beyond her 17 years could truly account for. Music has always come naturally to her, from the very beginning. Her voice has a comfortable maturity (Think Gwen Stefani on No Doubt’s “Sunday Morning”), but it’s still fresh enough to explore new territory. It belies a power and playful nature that stands out without overpowering. As for Kitten, as a group they have a Pop sensibility, while leaning towards New Wave seamlessly. Actually, Kitten manages to occupy the space between Indie Rock and the more electronic and beat based genres fairly easily. With a new remix by the dubstep DJ, Kastle, and a new video for their single, “Cut it Out”, they band from LA is on the fast track. I caught up with Chaidez over the phone, while the band was filming their new music video for “Sugar,” in the ghost towns of California.

You’re shooting a new music video, is it going to be another ode to nightlife like “Cut It Out”?

We shot it in abandoned town in California where the dam broke and the whole town was flooded about 20 years ago, so all these fish died on the shore. Nobody lives there, with abandoned houses, and there’s graffiti everywhere. So it’s going to be more post-apocalyptic in nature.

So you’re from LA and grew up there. LA gets a bad rap sometimes, what are some of things that you love about the city?

I don’t think that people get to enjoy the good parts of it when they come here for a little while, because it’s so spread out. Call me cheesy, but I love the variety of LA. You can go to the beach, to the mountains; there are a lot of naturalistic aspects of it.

Your song, “Cut It Out” could easily fit nicely onto any John Hughes soundtrack. There seems to be a love affair with ’80s style music production these days, what is its personal appeal to you… that makes you want to incorporate it into some of your songs?

Well that’s definitely spot-on; we’re influenced a lot by ’80s music. I like a lot of the women of that time, like Annie Lennox and The Motels. They’re super influential as far as keyboard sounds and synths; I liked the style of female singers then. They were really quirky and weren’t afraid to put on a character with their voice. I like of lot of British bands from that time as well.

So you started out doing covers when you first started playing, I loved your cover of The Smiths’ “Panic.” What are some other covers you like to bust out while on the road?

“Panic” is a favorite of mine. We used to do “Bizarre Love Triangle” by New Order, that one’s really fun. We also did “Ziggy Stardust” by David Bowie.

You’ve talked a lot about the influence your dad [Mike Chaidez, drummer for the East L.A punk band, Thee Undertakers] has had in shaping your musical taste, and getting you into music at an early age. Has he always been encouraging of your music career?

I think he warned me for a little while—not warned, but he wanted to make sure I really wanted to do this, and after that, he supported it. When I got more into Electronic music, he didn’t really understand that fully. So I think with a lot of the new things we do now, he doesn’t really understand it. He kind of wishes I did the straight-ahead ROCK!, you know, [the] rock’n’roll kind of thing.

We’ll he’s old school, that’s understandable. You’ve got to blaze new paths. I heard your first concert was the Go-Go’s… definitely not a bad introduction to strong,female-driven music. Do you recall the first album you bought?

I was definitely about 8, and it was something like Avril Lavigne’s Let Go. I know straight up, that is not very cool.

No judgment, mine was probably Vision of Love or some other ballad-y album. Being a younger act in Rock, do you find that promoters or audiences treat you differently?

As far as shows, I don’t think people really realize unless they ask. As for industry people, I think it can be a turn-off for some. They initially think the music is going to sound kitschy or it’s some kind of shtick. But after they hear the music or see a show, hopefully their minds are changed. People’s minds just go to a certain place. They picture a girl playing on her computer or a Britney Spears type. It’s natural and I get it, but then when they see us, they realize we’re something completely different than what they expected.

It’s always good to surprise people. Like how you started out on the bass first and then moved onto guitar? Which was is your favorite to play, and do you see yourself experimenting with any other instruments in the future?

I actually started out on drums, and thought bass was be an easy place to start. But guitar is better to write music on and to come up with more ideas.

What inspires your songwriting? Any process you use?

I guess it can be best described as a stream of consciousness, really putting words on paper in rhythm with the song. I think I’ve grown a lot, because in the past, I could never make the song sound like how I wanted it to. And now, I’ve learned to write in the style I’m trying to get at. Instead of writing a Folk song and trying to make it sound like a New Order song, I’ve learned to start with the style I want in the first place.

Because you started your musical career at such an early age, do you ever have the fear of burning out earlier than others?

I feel like as long as I’m building my career organically and in the right way, I’ll probably know when it hits a peak. But at the same time, I think I’ll just be able to make more records and have a solid fan base earlier. As long as I pace it out right and keep building slowly, I think it’ll turn out all right.

Look for Kitten’s [Chloe Chaidez, Andy Miller, Chris Vogel] new EP, Cut It Out, on August 28. In the meantime, catch them on their nationwide tour this summer, and download “Sugar” and “Cut it Out” Here.

Follow Kitten on twitter, @KittenMusic

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