Kitten is the kind of indie pop rock that will remind you of your favorite New Wave bands like Eurythmics and Tears for Fears but with a harder and darker edge of unapologetic punk rock sensibilities. Founded by songwriter and front woman, Chloe Chadiez, Kitten is quickly garnering quite a cult following from tweens to GenXers. At 19, Chloe Chaidez already has 9 years of playing live music under her belt. Yup, you did the math right: she started playing at 10 and just cut her first full length album. So how does a girl from Pasadena, California end up being a rock star before she hits 20? We recently sat down with Chloe to find out.
First cover band at 10, performing live by 12, touring by 15 and you just cut your first full length album at 18, and your only 19, right? (Yes!) Have you ever wanted to be anything else but a rock star?
No…I get that question often and I really wish I had a different answer because I really have not thought of doing anything else. Nothing else has ever crossed my mind.
Do you think that that focus and drive came from growing up in a musical environment, your Dad being in a punk band and you being surrounded by music all the time?
I honestly have no idea where it came from. I think my dad was a part of it, but I sort of loved music and willed myself into doing it because of how much I loved it and how much of it I was digesting all the time. It just naturally came out of me. So yeah, it was a combination, and he showed me great bands.
You have said you would take these long drives with your dad to visit the gym and on the way your dad would play you music and you guys would vibe out to in the car. Do you think that helped you escape the whole snare of the overproduced pop that seems to be popular with teenagers right now?
Definitely. When we were in the car we would listen to the CMJ tapes that usually had 10 tracks. It was all CMJ bands, like college radio bands. A lot of the music I actually didn’t really like or pick up on. But, through listening to those I understood choruses and catchy melodies, what really stood out in a song, which I think was really important. And obviously there were great bands on there.
Your voice is distinct. It’s powerful and visceral and yet can be soft and sensual, especially when you do acoustic versions of your songs. How did you discover/hone your singing voice? Anyone a major influence?
It’s funny because I’ve never really thought of myself as a singer; like someone that is technically very good. But I think I really found the breath of my voice when I founded Kitten. Before that I was more of a Janis Joplin or Alanis Morissette type singer. Then I discovered the breath within in my voice.
Funny enough I feel Conor Oberst is a huge vocal inspiration, which is kind of a weird thing. A lot of my singing I was emulating him and, of course, Chan Marshall from Cat Power. All these different artists. Then, as time has gone by I have dove more into the powerful aspects of my voice. Now it is a balance of what it used to be a long time ago, the breath, and the more powerful points. And I am really inspired by character singers as well, like Dale Bozzio and Annie Lennox. Those people that are strong characters through their voice. That’s so cool and interesting to me.
A lot of your songs explore the themes of love: the ups and downs of falling in love and the heartbreak of losing love. How much do you pull from personal experience?
It really depends on the song. I think regardless of the content and how it relates to you, it’s always stemming from you. So regardless of if you are jumping into a scenario or situation, it’s still your view of the situation and that world. So it really depends. I was just talking to someone about film and music videos, and love is the biggest stake at all times. I keep that in mind when writing, but almost not really because it comes out naturally. A lot of the songs also are more about spiritual love and your connection with God, and whatever that may be. The song “I’ll Be Your Girl,” that’s more my relationship with God than any boy.
Are you a religious person?
Yeah, yeah I’m a Christian, but I’m not perfect. It’s something that I like to talk about in the lyrics because it’s in my life. Just how anything else is that I put in my songs.
Your hair plays a big part in your performance up there on stage (see video below). So what goes into getting that hair ready for a show?
(Laughs ) Oh my gosh, so much less than people probably realize. I mean, I don’t really wash it, ever. So when you don’t wash it there’s the oil and this body that builds up. I bleached mine recently and then dyed it back to a darker color. But when it was bleached it got this gray tone so I just put baby powder in because I didn’t want to lose the color and it got huge. Now it does the same thing, I just put baby powder in it and go, I don’t tease it or anything.
What have you been listening to during your down time on this tour, what’s on your playlist right now?
There’s this band called EXGF and they just have one song out called ‘Idle hands.’ It’s such a banger. It’s amazing. I recommend it to anybody. The art is great. There’s also a band called Nothing that’s really good. I’ve been listening to a lot of the Shangri-las as well. I picked it up from a record store and it’s really great. You can hear the influence in the Bat for Lashes record. They are very similar. Foxygen has a really great record out. Oh, and old Mariah Carey I have been really digging lately.
You’ve gone on several tours with some pretty big artists like Garbage, The Joy Formidable, Charli XCX, Paramore, etc. and are now wrapping up your first headlining tour, what’s next for Kitten?
We are doing some European touring and then probably another US headlining, but this tour has been really great. So we want to go back to some of these cities because it’s been amazing.
Why does music matter to you?
Wow, I guess I have no choice in it, you know? I have no choice in the matter. It just does. I couldn’t imagine a world without it. I think I go to music in every period of my life. Like when I’m happy I celebrate with music, when I’m sad I confide in music, when I’m in mundane aspects of life there is music playing. In every part of life I need it and I need the artist that have made the music in my life.
Chloe Chadiez proves that age has nothing to do with being a rock star. If you are born with an unquenchable thirst for music then you will find a way to have that a part of your life, there will be no doubt, no question, it will just be. She believes in her craft, she’s confident in what she likes and appreciates the work that go into making something that truly is art. You can pick up Kitten’s album at your favorite music store or if you are in the Southern California area you can see Kitten and Chloe’s banging hair July 25 at the Wayfarer.