If the proverbial "it girl" torch has been passed, Chloe Chaidez is its new bearer.
At just 17, the charismatic lead singer behind the California-bred band, Kitten, is red hot. From her sensual takes on classic covers by The Smiths and New Order, to her never-to-be-reined in approach to almost everything, Chloe Chaidez is the new new that is not-so surprisingly capturing the attention of die-hard alt-rockers from coast to coast.
To be fair, this soon to be legal siren is no stranger to the scene or the art form. Belting notes aside, Chloe also plays the drums and the bass, and landed her first gig in a band circa 2003 when she was only 10. Joining the all-teen upstart and cover band, Wild Youth, soon followed. But for the girl who’s father, also a drummer, made much noise in the ’80s as a member of the East LA punk band, Thee Undertakers, the realization that the apple didn’t fall far from the tree and that her own lyrical musings were bursting at the seams, made Kitten’s siren call was all the more seductive.
In 2010, the band released the Sunday School EP, and just recently, it’s high-energy follow-up, Cut it Out, after their summer residency at LA’s Bootleg Bar. After what seems like a super productive summer of production, music video making and buzz building, Chloe shares food for thought, insight on her form and a surprise influence from her early years.
In the last few years, we’ve seen a new wave revival happening, while the indie rock category seems to be exploding at the seems. Where on the music spectrum do you often find yourself naturally, as a listener and also as a creator? Is there a difference?
Pointing out that there might not be a difference between what an artist listens to and creates is a very a astute observation, because most of the time whatever I’m listening to comes across very clearly in the music I’m making. I’ve definitely watched new wave become a more popular influence over the past couple of years, and I’ve definitely taken a part in its movement, but I think I’m starting to move on from that musically.
I read somewhere that you’re a big fan of the ’80s, which was before you were even born, and Annie Lennox is someone who inspires you. What is it about that era culturally that moves you? Cheezy thoughts included…
That’s a very dense question for me, because I’ve been inspired by so many aspects of the ’80s for the past couple of years. I’m not sure if I’m a huge fan of “’80s culture”, but just so many of my favorite bands emerged at that time. A lot of singers in the ’80s weren’t afraid of challenging their voices, and getting into a character while they sang, and I find that very inspiring. I also feel there was very clever and brilliantly choreographed production happening in the ’80s that was groundbreaking for pop music. Production wise, it doesn’t get much better than a 1985 Tears for Fears record. The sound and attention to detail is still inspiring. And yes, Annie Lenox is indeed one of my favorite singers, mainly because she’s in one of my favorite bands.
Your voice carries like someone who’s experienced much more than I think someone who hasn’t even hit 21 should/would carry. Where do you draw your emotive sensibility from? Was it because you started performing at an early age?
I think if I was able to pinpoint exactly where I find emotion while singing, it wouldn’t be organic. I think certain phrases or words, because of the weight that they may carry, naturally result in a more emotive delivery. I’m sure starting from such a young age has helped with all that, yeah.
Since we’re on the subject of girl power, you give me a Cali frontwoman of a garage band kind of vibe, kind of like Gwen Stefani way back when. What do you think Stefani brought to the table that changed the game?
Gwen Stefani fronts one of the biggest rock bands in the world, and boys and girls like them equally, regardless of being female fronted. I think that in of itself is a huge accomplishment.
They say if you know where you want to go, you can create a better version of the present moment. If that’s true, what would you want to be most remembered for? What set you a part from the pack? And what would you want us to know most?
I want people to know that I want to be one the greatest artists of all time and I’m willing to work for it. We’re often mistaken as an “indie” band, maybe because we don’t sound like Matchbox 20, but our goals and aspirations are in no way “indie”. I want to continue making the type of music I want to make, without compromise of course, but I also want to be playing the Staples Center.
Who do you think would win in a battle of the bands, The Smiths or New Order? And why?
Ooh, that’s a hard one because you just named two of my favorite bands. But I think I’d have to put my money on The Smiths. Morrisey is such a delicate force on stage, and God bless him but Bernard Sumner is just not a frontman.
The Kitten project seems to be thought-provoking in a similar way as those bands, in a very visually-stimulating sort of way. Who’s driving the direction creatively? Is someone an art school junkie?
We have friends that run a photography company called Tiger Tiger, who are incredibly talented and have been working with us from the beginning. We collaborate with them on our art and are so grateful to have them in our lives.
You were a part of another band before this one…what happened that led you to Kitten? And are you feeling at home now?
I was feeling a little musically stunted in the band I had before Kitten , and I think that it was just time to move on. I’m definitely content with the decision I made.
Dream collaboration? Dead or alive.
Dead, John Lennon; Living, James Blake.
Something you learned today that totally marveled you?
I watched a TED Talk on the brain and learned some pretty interesting things about our two hemispheres. Our right hemisphere is all about right now, the present moment and your immediate reaction to that moment, while your left hemisphere is the side of the brain that reminds you of your responsibilities and duties as a person. I learned that I’m all right hemisphere. I really love TED Talks.
What are your dad’s thoughts on your career? Supportive, over it or indifferent? Describe the ways…. And have you ever performed with your dad and his band?
Both my parents are supportive of my decision to be in this band, and unfortunately my dad’s ’80s east LA punk band broke up back in the early ’80s before I was born so we never performed together. But to be honest, I don’t know how hip I am on “family bands”…
Describe the moment you realized you could sing…do you remember where you were and how it happened?
I wish there was some sort of defining moment where I realized I could sing. Honestly, after passionately belting along to Avril Lavgine’s “Let Go” so many times, I think any 8-year old can learn how to sing.