Archive for March, 2013

SXSW Interviews: Kitten


I recently got to go to SXSW for a few days and interview a few people – like Kitten. A young, five piece 80’s electro-rock band led by polarizing Chloe Chaidez, who are more than capable and willing to take over the “hipster” scene with their smooth synths and youthful guitar backing. The youngest member in the band, Waylon, is 16. I got to talk to Zach (bass) and Chloe about their stage antics, how their new music has changed, and how they are planning to expand from their home within the LA music scene.

How is SXSW so far?

Z: Hectic, stressful, and amazing at the same time.

C: Yup, that’s the perfect way to describe it.

Is this your first time?

C: Third, actually! But this is probably the most hectic/fun so far.

 Who have you seen so far, and have you had any weird experiences? 

Z: We saw Japandroids and Wavves the other night. That was great. Last night we saw Hundred Waters, so good.

C: And we saw Poolside. Then we played with Tegan and Sara and Paramore at the Belmont, but we didn’t get to stay for that. Yesterday was weird because we were playing at 12 AM, and it was really routy and people were crazy. I love it when people get drunk and listen to you because they have more fun.

Chloe, you started the band when you were 15. What do you think you guys have learned most since then?

C: I think just that you can’t really plan out the way you want your “career” to go. It’s not in your hands. You just have to focus on your vision, as cliched as that sounds. But [if you focus on] what you wanna get out there through the years, and if [the music] is great, then the rest will work out.

Every interview I’ve read of you, the person talks about how calm you are in casual conversation but on stage, you’re really wild. Where does that stage presence come from? Do you just get an adrenaline rush in front of the crowd? 

C: Yeah, it’s kind of like a very spiritual, euphoric for me when I get on stage and start playing music. I’m in complete bliss in that moment, for whatever reason.

Z: For me personally, it’s because I’m such a quiet person on stage that I’m able to channel something else on stage. It feels like two different people.

C: Aspects of what I am definitely come out in what I’m doing. For example, if there’s a festival and there’s a gate with a line across the block, I’ll be like, “Hey, guys, let’s hop the fence.” But that spontaneity is totally inside of me, and it always has been, but it is pushed to an extreme on stage.

How does it feel to be touring with Paramore, and how did that gig come about?

C: It’s gonna be amazing just to know that there’s gonna be more than 20 people in the audience every night. We’re gonna get catering, we’re gonna get a sound check every night!

Z: And Paramore fans are awesome. We did a SXSW event last night, but there were people in Paramore shirts lining up since 2 in the afternoon.

C: We even played one show with them in Comona, and after that one show, we gained so many fans because they’re just so passionate about the music.

Z: They’re attentive, too! I joined the band after that show, and every time we play in LA, I have people coming up to me being like, “I didn’t see you when you guys played with Paramore!” That’s all anyone talks about, that Paramore show.

C: Yeah, after we played with them in Comona, I found out that Hayley really liked our music. We just kind of hit it off. We kept in contact, and they asked us to go on tour!

So at first listen, you can tell that in your new single, ‘Yesterday,’ the sound has changed a bit. You guys even changed the genre on your Soundcloud from “alternative” to “80’s pop.” How would you compare your old music to the new single? 

C: I do think that a lot of the elements we had in our previous EP’s are going to be on the album, so as “80’s” as people think the last two EP’s were, it’s even more 80’s – more Tears for Fears-inspired, all that.

Z: There’s a lot of different stuff going on in it as well, though. Since it’s now a new incarnation of the band, we’ve got a lot of different 80’s, 90’s influenced sounds – from wew wave, to garage rock, to shoe gaze.

C: We’ve put in a lot of post-rock, My Bloody Valentine, shoe gazey influences. It’s going to be a cool mix of those things.

Do you think 80’s rock will come back in full force? There are tinges of it here and there.

Z: There are a lot of cool bands doing stuff like that right now –  Merchandise, Trust, to name a few.

C: I think the great thing about where music is at right now is that you can do anything you want. You could be a white rapper, anything. There’s a niche and an audience for anything. In the 70’s, it was more like, “Oh, everyone’s in a rock band!” But now, it’s different.

Z: Also, trends in music to tend to cycle around every 20 or so years.

I was talking about that the other day – if you think about the most popular radio songs last year, you think Gotye, Fun., Ellie Goulding, but there was also Call Me Maybe and Gangnam style, which are complete opposites. 

C: Yeah, there’s not one genre that can be successful.

Z: 2013 has been interesting so far. There’s a lot of cool music coming out – a lot of 80’s revival stuff, yet a a lot of very, very modern stuff, too. It’s gonna be interesting to see what this year and next year has to offer.

C: I hate when people say, “NO, THIS GENERATION, BLAH BLAH..” I think some of the best music has come about from this generation.

Z: Fuck living in the past! It’s about what’s going on now.

Where do you draw your inspiration from, both musically and visually, too? You have some pretty cool artwork as well.

Z: It’s funny. Whenever we talk about the “new record cover,” we always go back to Loveless be My Bloody Valentine, because there’s just something so powerful about that album cover – the hand and the guitar. But it’s more the way that it is put in.

C: One thing I do prefer about the past is how there was this separation between the band and their imagery. I don’t wanna see my favorite band eating potato chips in the back of their tour bus. I want them to be other worldly – like David Bowie. I want them to be viewed kind of like aliens or superheroes. I think we try to make our imagery iconic.

Z: Music wise, we both grew up listening to a lot of different stuff. I grew up on more kind of Metal and punk-rock. So on stage, whenever I’m throwing my bass around, I’m just thinking about Metallica and the bands I grew up listening to.

My friend listens to you, and she said that she feels like she would play your music really loudly while shopping at Forever 21. 

C: Oh, okay! That’s cool!

Z: We’re glamorous! We made it.

So when can we expect the full length LP, and what can we expect from it?

C: Well, we’re looking at a July release. We’re in the process of finishing up the mixes. I think it’s a lot more rhythmic, sexy, and it’s also incorporating a lot more elements from our live shows – that energy and grandness.

Z: There’s a lot of different stuff coming to the plate right now, instead of it being more singular. It’s gonna be an interesting mix of styles.

C: I’ve also just been really into R&B a lot lately, too – that production level.

So, since we are Indie Houston, who are some of your favorite indie artists that we can check out?

C: I really like Rhye. I’m not sure how underground they are, but I really love them. Churches is really good. I also really like Foxygen.

Z: There’s a big electronic scene in Chicago going around. There are people like Supreme Cuts and Mr. Lies who are great right now. I love it.

Check out Kitten’s video for ‘Japanese Eyes’ below and download their latest EP, Cut It Out, here.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mTd3eKjIcp8

 

Interview with A Rocket to the Moon

Interview by Ivan Guzman

“Wild and Free” is the title of A Rocket to the Moon’s upcoming sophomore album, which is due out March 28th. The Americana-rock quartet’s last effort was back in 2009, when they established their devout fan base and confronted the scene with pop-rock at its finest. I recently got the chance to do a short interview with Eric Halvorsen, the band’s bassist, where we managed to talk about critics, studio habits, album expectations, how the band’s music has matured, and the influences behind “Wild and Free.” Check out what Eric had to say!

 

Your new music video for “Ever Enough” just came out a few days ago. It stars Disney actress Debby Ryan. Where did you guys get the idea for this video and how did Debby come in?

-We actually didn’t come up with the story line ourselves. It was our director, Mark, who did our video for “Whole Lotta You” and “Mr. Right” from our last record. We were thinking about who could play the part for the girl, and we’ve been friends with Debby for a while, so she was just our first thought, and she was on board. We usually just have a vibe about what we want our videos to be like, and then it goes from there.

Many critics are easy to label bands’ second album as the “sophomore slump.” Did you guys go into the studio with this in your head?

-Not really. We just went in to the studio with songs that we wanted to record and write. I don’t think anybody goes into the studio thinking “Oh, we can’t write a record this way or that way because of this whole, cliche ‘sophomore slump’ thing.” I think [the record] either works or it doesn’t. We just wrote the songs we wanted to write and record them. So, if people want to call it that, then I guess it’s up to them, but we didn’t have that in mind at all.

Do you tend to listen to critics?

-No [laughter]. I don’t listen to them for other bands, for our band — I just don’t see the point. We put the music out, and not everybody is going to like it, but it’s not going to change what we do. I just don’t really care, I guess.

How has ARTTM’s music matured from “On Your Side” to “Wild and Free”?

-Well, we wrote “On Your Side” in 2008 when most of the band was 20, and now we’re around 24. I think as far as our sound, it has just been a natural progression over those four years. We didn’t really set out to change anything drastically. I don’t think any of our core fans will be too surprised with what’s on the record.

On the subject of how your music has changed – listening to Wild and Free, you can obviously tell that there is more of a country influence. How did this come about?

-That has to do a lot with our personal influences. We really like old country, Americana-type music. We’re all big country fans – alternative country, that is. We all just have this Americana vibe, so I guess it just mixed with our other music tastes and came out while recording.

How much of a group effort is it when you guys go into the studio?

-Writing is primarily Nick and Justin- not that we’re prone to writing as a band, but that’s just how it worked out. After that, for this album, we got together and actually play live together, which we haven’t done thus far.

What is your main strength when you go into the studio with the band?

-I wouldn’t say that I have one “stand out” strength that I contribute most. Everyone has their own mindset while recording. I guess I’m just good at being myself in the studio and collaborating with the other guys in the band. Well, I am the bassist, so there’s that.

What is the most important thing that you are hoping to accomplish with this record?

-I guess we all want to just get it into the hands of as many people as possible, learn more, and travel around the world. But the backbone of all that is a successful record, so hopefully it does well so that we can tour off of it. Whatever happens on top of that would be an added bonus.

Is there a certain theme with the songs on this album that you’re hoping to get across to people most?

-All the songs have different themes, but I think the whole record is relatable. We have songs about love, growing up, being yourself, having fun– it’s all across the board. Hopefully we can connect with everyone.

Last question – since we are Indie Houston, who are some of your favorite indie artists that we can check out? 

-I’m going to a show tonight to see my buddy, Ben, who is in a band called American Tomahawk. My other buddy is also putting out a record this year with his band called The Chain Gang of 1974. It’s a psychedelic, new wave-ish record, and people would be crazy not to like it, in my opinion haha.

Thanks for talking with us! Good luck with the record, and everything else.

-Thanks!

 

The Littlest Viking play at mangos March 18th

The Littlest Viking just put out their 2nd s/t LP on Long Beach’s Mountain Man Records and are going on tour in March to support it.

From the band: We kind of sound like the bastard musical lovechild of Don Caballero, Piglet, American Football, Braid, and Hot Snakes. Tamborines, ridiculous drum fills, wicked tapping, hoarse shouting, noise freakouts, salsa beats and the occasional Prince sample are a staple of any TLV live show.  This will be our 2nd U.S. tour and will include an official showcase at SXSW, which is neat, but only because of the free beer, bbq, and frisbees.  you can stream our new record here:http://mountainmanrecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-littlest-viking-2

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