80s and 90s New Wave / pop rock revivalists Kitten turned away from the big industry label Elektra Records after 5 years to put all the focus back on the music. Just a week away from Kitten’s much anticipated performance at the Fonda on January 30th, mxdwn caught up with Chloe Chaidez to discuss firsts, David Bowie and possible festival appearances!
mxdwn: You have an incredibly unique sound that’s rare to come by in new artists and have had the chance to form and reforms bands time and time again, but have always remained true to your sound. How have you been able to achieve that?
Chloe: Throughout all the bands growths and changes, a lot of the influences stayed the same. So, I think that helped me stay true to my sound and what I want to do.
mxdwn: At this point in time, who is Kitten?
Chloe: As many people already know, I’ve been through some band drama, if you will, as everyone in a band has been through, but Kitten is just kind of my moniker. I do have a new partner with this EP, a keyboard player, his name is Dave Stagno. He’s had a lot to do with this new EP and Chad, my other sort of long-time collaborator, is still with me too.
mxdwn: You’ve had years-long love affairs with major record labels and the music industry in general. With a dad who was in the industry himself as a drummer, what was your first major introduction to the world of music?
Chloe: I guess you could say my dad because of all the records he played me as a kid. He played me a lot of Bowie (rest in peace) and Led Zeppelin, and a lot of classic rock and a lot of other weirder stuff. But, he was definitely my first introduction to music.
mxdwn: What was your first album?
Chloe: I feel like it was probably Avril Lavigne’s Let Go [laughs]
mxdwn: [laughs] That was one of my first too!
Chloe: Yeah, in all honesty I love that album! I love the 16 year old Avril… she was really cool!
mxdwn: Me too! And what was the first concert attended?
Chloe: I think I saw the Go-Go’s and the Bangles when I was like four or something like that when I was a baby… so I don’t really remember, but I know that I went. I also saw Erykah Badu when I was really young. Both were cool, I wish I could remember more clearly.
mxdwn: Wow! Those are really cool first concerts! Usually they’re kind of embarrassing!
What was the first show where you performed?
Chloe: I played a show at this event called the Fun Fair that happens every year in South Pasadena when I was like 10.
mxdwn: Awesome! Yeah, I’m from the area so I’m familiar with it!
Chloe: Cool, yeah, the name sounds like something in like a Lizzy McGuire episode… like the Fun Fair… but it really does exist!
mxdwn: Circling back to your relationships with record labels… you recently decided to part ways with your label of 5 years, Elektra Records. Of the separation, you’ve stated in the past that “there really isn’t any difference” being on your own, but what fueled that decision?
Chloe: I was signed to a major label very young and I’m not sure that they quite understood me as an artist at that age and I didn’t quite understand what I wanted at that age either. I think that we just had our differences in vision and I think that was the problem. But I am still thankful for those years and all the experience that that gave me.
mxdwn: There are definitely exciting things in store for the future, but you’ve been making headlines since 2010 with your performance at SXSW at the age of 15 and I hear you’ve just celebrated your 21st birthday just days ago: happy belated birthday. How has the music industry evolved for you both literally and mentally over the years?
Chloe: Yeah, I think the state of the music industry is changing so rapidly. I’ve just seen concerts become more vapid. People’s attention spans are getting lower and lower. It’s not my experience on the road or anything like that, but that’s what I’ve noticed throughout the years. And I think that because of that, with my new music I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel, I kind of want to keep things classic and have great lyrics and good songs and a good vocal performance and I think that stands out more than anything… more than crazy makeup or a ridiculous video or anything. That’s kind of how my experience has changed in the past five years and how I’m responding to it.
mxdwn: And I think that’s what great about your music and what draws fans in! Last time you played LA, you had a two show sold out stint at the Troubadour and your next show at the Fonda on the January 30th, which you have deemed the show you have “ARGUABLY BEEN WAITING MY ENTIRE LIFE” for. What makes you most excited about playing the Fonda? What can fans expect from the show?
Chloe: I think it’s sort of a legendary venue and I look at it as a spot where I’ve always wanted to play. I’ve seen a lot of shows there and a lot of really big, cool bands have played there. I think it’s really going to showcase the kind of relationship we have with our fans and I think that’s really awesome! I don’t want to give anything away, but it’s going to be really great! We’re gonna go back and do some of the covers that I think our fans really like and that I really like playing; it’s gonna be awesome!
mxdwn: At the Troubadour, you performed a cover of David Bowie’s “Heroes” and shared the link immediately following his death on your site captioned “To My Hero”. I personally am still a mental mess in the wake of his quick and unexpected death, but how are you coping with it?
Chloe: For me personally, this is definitely the most devastating musical loss I’ve had in my lifetime. Since it was sort of unexpected, because he was such a private guy considering his fame and notoriety and no one heard of him being ill, it really came as a shock to everyone and definitely to me. A lot of tears were shed, which I didn’t expect. I didn’t expect to feel the way I did and I think that a lot of artist and musicians are feeling the same way and that sort of brings a unity amongst the community.
mxdwn: How much of an influence would you say he had on your musical taste and style as you’ve developed into an artist?
Chloe: So much in terms of his versatility and the different records that he’s made! I’ve always tried to compare myself to him… I want to make a lot of different kinds of records because I think that I can. So in that sense his career has been the goal. His style and his imagery and everything are so influential and have been such an influence to me.
My dad has always loved David Bowie and my 10 year old cover band covered “Space Oddity” and “Changes,” so he’s always been in my blood. Recently I discovered Low, which is him and Brian Eno, and it’s definitely one of my favorite records, but I love all them.
mxdwn: All his music is so good and I’m getting teary eyed just hearing his name. To quickly change the subject… among some of your other influences, you’ve named The Cure, Pulp, Suede, Phil Spector and Roy Orbinson. What are your favorite traits of each artist and how would you say those traits have helped you shape your musical and vocal performances?
Chloe: Definitely bits and pieces are from each of those artists. But, I was listening to all of those band’s records and I’ve been listening to all of those records for the past 6 months to a year. For about a year now, I’ve been really influence by 90s British rock like Stone Roses, Pulp, Suede. With Suede, there’s corkiness and a sexiness to what they do that’s just really cool to me. I love their music videos… they’re really romantic and lyrically there’s a lot of imagery there that I love and a lot that I was really influenced by. And Phil Spector… a lot of that was from one of my partners, and Chad actually. Dave and Chad are really into Phil Spector and really turned me onto that sort of music. So like the Ronettes, I discovered that from them.
mxdwn: The Cure, they are starting off their new tour in May and were just announced to be playing the Sasquatch Music Festival. The circuit is just around the corner and announcements are starting to trickle through the wire. You are sure to be on some bills, but can you give us any clues as to where we may be able to see you in a festival setting?
Chloe: Nothing I can say yet, but definitely some festivals coming up! I’m really excited about that. So, stay on the lookout!
mxdwn: Besides performances, what’s on the horizon for Kitten?
Chloe: Releasing the new EP and a video, as well, really really soon. And just touring and playing shows and …. WORLD DOMINATION!