For Chloe Chaidez, the just-turned 18 year old frontwoman of the electrifying rock group Kitten, the trajectory from rock fan to rock star began in carpool. “Growing up my dad had to drive an hour and half every day five days a week to take me to gymnastics,” she recalls. Chloe’s father, a drummer from LA’s early punk scene, used this time to communicate the important things in life to his young daughter: Mott the Hoople, David Bowie, and Led Zeppelin. “We listened to lots of classic rock,” Chloe recalls. “But we also played the new CMJ mixes. This is pre-internet and that’s how you learned about new bands, from little CDs that came with cool magazines. Bands like Sigur Rós, Band of Horses….” With the release of Kitten’s EP, “CUT IT OUT,” Chloe hopes to add her own songs to the tracks blasting out of car stereos across the country.
By ten Chloe had begun playing bass and had formed her own band. By 12 she was opening for indie artists such as Midlake and Conor Oberst with her blend of hip covers and precocious originals. “I probably watched School of Rock 100 times,” Chloe says, laughing. “That was all I wanted to do.”
It’s not a surprise that Chloe was so naturally drawn to the rebel artists’ life. Both her mom and dad are creative and the singer’s older brother, the scholar in the family, also dabbles in music. “School is really his thing,” Chloe says. “ Mathematics. But he’s also a really natural musician.” School was not Chloe’s thing. “I got into a lot of trouble from a very early age,” she remembers. Music was all that ever held her attention but within that particular world she is as educated as they come. A consummate rock nerd, she can easefully narrate the creative through-line from My Bloody Valentine to Washed Out, discuss her appreciation of everyone from Cat Power to the Notorious B.I.G., then pivot to music business speak to dissect Grimes’ marketability in the mainstream. “People always say, oh she’s so young but the thing is, I have been doing this for a really long time already,” Chloe says. “I love it. As cliché as it sounds, it’s my life. It’s all I do.”
While writing songs, recording, and performing live have been a major part of Chloe’s daily life over the last few years, what’s been more of a challenge, she says, is learning how to focus her vision. “You can write a song on an acoustic guitar and it can sound any way you want. It doesn’t necessarily have a point of view,” she explains. “But over the last year or two, I’ve realized the particular music I wanted to make, what sound I wanted and the point of view that I wanted it to come from.”
The path to this realization wasn’t without it’s rough patches. Ironically after signing her record deal, at the peak of her first small wave of success, when she should have been the happiest, Chloe nearly lost herself in rock and roll cliché. “I would drink before and after shows… do drugs,” Chloe remembers. “The real problem was that I couldn’t stop myself. It wasn’t just about fun. I was frustrated, scared and confused and I wanted to kill those feelings, but I justified it by saying this is the rock and roll life style. It’s okay to do this ‘cause so did Iggy Pop, so did Lou Reed. Maybe I would write my own ‘Heroin’ someday. But the thing is, that stuff really can kill your creativity and can ruin your career. That particular lifestyle, how I was living it, it lowers you. We almost had to shut the whole thing down. Part of the turnaround of this record is that I looked around and said, ‘Wait a minute. This isn’t a joke. This is my life. This is what I care about. What the hell am I doing?’”
Back in LA, away from distractions, Chloe was finally clear-headed enough to truly explore what kind of music she wanted to make. Through songwriting collaborations with her manager and musical mentor, Chad Anderson, the singer started to hone in on her now signature sound. A blend of the ferocious power of late 70s post punk with the sonic textures and rhythms of British new wave, executed with an emotional delicacy all too rare for today.
Soon after Chloe started messing around with her computer at home to create music with her brother, the stage was set for Kitten to rise. “I felt stuck with the band format’s mostly organic instruments so I started making beats with my brother in our bedrooms,” she remembers. “I found it really liberating. Soon after I started falling in love with 80s new wave, most of it British—Pet Shop Boys, OMD, Psychedelic Furs, New Order, The Eurythmics, American artists like The Motels and ‘till Tuesday, Prince….”
Liberating is a good descriptor for Kitten’s EP. A blend of the sophisticated elegance of dream pop with the jagged directness of rock and roll, it’s a declaration of intent and an auspicious announcement of the arrival of a new force in music. The title track “Cut It Out” has the sweetness of a delicate pop song underscored by a massive futuristic backbeat. “G#” is a reverb-drenched reinvention of classic shoegazer rock, slashed through with razor guitars and songs like “Sugar” showcase Chloe’s willingness to be intimate and vulnerable even from within these layers of raucous noise.
While the EP showcases the band’s dynamic range from considered near-ballads to epic walls of sound, the six-songs really only give a glimpse of what’s to come. Chloe is back in the studio - along with bandmates Waylon Rector (guitars), Lukas Frank (drums), and Bryan DeLeon (keyboards) – working on a full length debut for Elektra Records. And, throughout the recording process, the band has continued to hone their already critically acclaimed live show. After attending one of their packed residency shows at the Bootleg Theater last fall, the Los Angeles Times ran a glowing review, not only enthusing how “Kitten’s rich and atmospheric sound is surprisingly ageless” but deeming Chloe “as sure a shot to be a rock star as L.A. has produced recently.” Along with high-profile support slots for Paramore and No Doubt, Kitten’s live performances have a confident sense of self and identity that audiences can feel.
“What’s going to make this band different is our live show,” says the singer, when asked what truly distinguishes Kitten. “I love being onstage more than anything. When you are up there you can do whatever you want. You can be whatever you want. If there’s one person in the back of the room not involved, then that’s my audience. I’ll do whatever I have to do to blow that person away. I want everybody in the audience to remember where they were when they saw Kitten for the first time.”