Kitten's Chloe Chaidez Talks Feminism, Sexism, and Becoming Iconic

Kitten's Chloe Chaidez Talks Feminism, Sexism, and Becoming Iconic

An inordinate passion for pleasure is the secret of remaining young, or so sayeth Oscar Wilde. His eccentric wit is a perfect fit for L.A.'s Kitten, fronted by the just-barely legal Chloe Chaidez, who co-founded the band when she was just 15. By now, she's likely tired of hearing how young she is, but it really is an achievement; in a few short years, Kitten has played at South by Southwest, toured with Paramore and Young the Giant, and earned nods from rock journalists as an up-and-coming act.

As Chloe puts it herself, "People always say, 'Oh, she's so young. But the thing is, I've been doing this for a really long time already." It's true: Kitten's ingredients have matured well beyond their years, given Chloe's almost encyclopedic background in music. For Kitten, that awareness of the past has translated into a light blend of Siouxsie Sioux packed with the sexy edge of Debbie Harry -- combined with the modern, synthesizer-speckled sensibilities of bands like Metric, Austra, and Purity Ring.

We called Ms. Chaidez to ask her about the success of her band, what's the deal with feminism, and where next she wants to take Kitten.

Do you get called Kitten a lot, or something like that? I feel like it's somehow akin to how Debbie Harry got called Blondie. It's actually exactly like that.

That often happened. Kind of like how Twin Shadow, people sometimes call him Twin Shadow. That happens a lot, but I think when it's someone that knows the band and has seen us, they kind of understand. Yeah, but it's something similar to Blondie.

So it was a nickname before you came up with the band name? Oh, no -- I just mean in the way people . . . Sometimes boys will be like, "Hey, Kitten," and I'll be like, "Um, not my name." But no, it was never a nickname or anything. It just sounded classic, retro.

What can you tell me about your music videos? I think they're really interesting. They're honest depictions, "Cut It Out" especially. It's an honest depiction of the culture in L.A. It's shot in a place called The Smell that I played my first show at, and I go a lot. It's also very nostalgic to me. It captures, stylistically, our youth culture.

It shows where I grew up and started playing music and all that. I think "G#" is up to your interpretation, but I like the external shot because it's kind of as epic as the song, as ambitious as the song in a lot of ways. I think that the meaning is up for interpretation.

Has anyone called "G#" "G Hashtag"? Yeah, yeah, I think it's funny when they do that.

It's dumb, but I figured someone could confuse that. So tell me about your new EP, Cut It Out. We did it about a year ago. It doesn't really sound like it, but it was definitely a very difficult time for the band and I. A lot of the songs stem from an electronic foundation and then we build off the band.

I think there was a lot of excitement with the gelling of the band and the demo jams. That was really exciting. Now, I look back and go, "Oh, my gosh, I wasn't ready for that to be real." At the time, it really glued our sound together and it is what we are now. So, it was a really special time.

Are you working on a full-length? Yeah, yeah. We're working on a full-length. It'll come out a little later this year or early next year. Then we have some other new music, an EP, coming out August 27.

Can you tell me about those releases? The EP is just a peek into what the record is gonna be. I think, however, '80s people thought the band was [this will be] far more '80s, far more stylized. I kinda grew into myself as a singer, recently. I used to be really into ethereal vocals and raspy, My Bloody Valentine type vocals.

I think this record is more like Annie Lennox -- real singers really influence me on this record. It's not really a new direction for us because we've been kind of heading that way for a long time.

You sound excited about it. I'm very excited.

 

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Maybe it doesn't feel like a new direction for me because we've been working on the music for so long. I always forget people haven't heard this stuff before. It's very rhythmic, it's very sexy.

Would you consider yourself a feminist? No, not at all. I was actually talking to a friend about this recently and she was like, "If you don't define yourself as a feminist, you're a sexist." And I think that's one way to look at it, but I don't walk around defending women's rights. I don't think it's the biggest problem right now in society, by any means.

I definitely don't think it's that black and white, where if you're not a feminist you're a sexist. I don't think that makes sense. Yeah, I don't think it's that way, either. I think people are using a word in a far more progressive way than it's meant to be used nowadays. I think they're flipping definitions a lot.

The reason I ask is because Kitten obviously has a lot of sexual energy to it. I wonder if you feel that being reflected negatively. Like people stereotyping you, like, oh you're just a girl. I guess if I were to carry that chip on my shoulder, I would never be able to get anything done. You're constantly defending yourself. I think it's obvious when people are insecure with that label and it's just not something that I think about. And I do think if I thought about it too much, it would hurt what I was doing musically and artistically.

That's a good answer. I feel like with Kitten you have a lot of confidence and you know where you are, and it's not a lot of insecurity. On "Japanese Eyes" you say your mother is Japanese. Is that true? Uh, no . . . I think that line is more about imagery, you know? I think a lot of lines are about imagery more than anything else.

What is "Sugar" about? I think that's my favorite off the EP. I think "Sugar" is just like bits of imagery together. A lot of times -- "Cut It Out" is a good example -- I'll write something and think about it later. Oh, maybe that's what that meant. I don't think there's a particular . . . certain songs are very special, and I'll always feel like "Oh, wow, there's a really specific story going on here."

And I think that's beautiful, and maybe it'll evolve, but for right now, [it's] little stories that turn into a big story that is up for interpretation.

Where do you want to go next with your music? I get that question a lot and I feel like, obviously my goals are high. With Kitten, it's not like I'm in this band, let's see where it takes it. I'm definitely looking to be an icon, you know what I mean? That's obviously not something you can just say, but I want to introduce something that's iconic and remembered. You make that happen through little steps and making sure that every step you make forward is the right one.

And again, that starts with mainly the music. As far as the next step, I just want to make sure every record I put out is as good the last one or as good as any record that out at that moment and have the best live show I can have. Then, I feel like if those things are right, then yeah.

Who would you consider some of your contemporaries? Like, current new artists? We're going on tour with Charli XCX and I feel like that's a good match, but then again, I think we've been a band for a longer time, so I dunno. I would say like Rye, Oxygen, oh, Chvrches. I feel like we're contemporaries, but musically I feel like Chvrches is maybe like Charli, yeah.

Have you been to Phoenix before? Yeah, we were there a little while ago. It was really great.

Where did you play? Pub Rock. It was really, really awesome. We toured with Paramore, so I feel like a lot of the kids that went to the show in Phoenix were there for them, but they really treated us like rock stars.

It was great, it was awesome and their energy was amazing. It was really fun. Definitely put that in your article.

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