premiere: kitten's chloe chaidez is back with a new (nickelodeon-inspired) video
Chaidez is only 23, but her band KITTEN has been putting out infectious 80s pop anthems for nearly a decade. As i-D premieres the video for new single 'I Did It,' we talk to Chaidez about leaving L.A. and watching a lot of 'Lizzie McGuire.'
Photography Abigail Tulis
KITTEN’s Chloe Chaidez has been through quite a bit of change since she released her band’s self-titled album in 2014. The 23-year-old musician made the move from L.A. to New York, made a conscious effort to highlight her natural vocals, and cut off her hair.
Formed in 2009, KITTEN became known for blending its post-punk ethos with 80s new wave and playing the L.A. club scene far before its members could legally drink. Before releasing KITTEN’s debut LP, Chaidez dropped three EPs full of catchy anthems that could have fooled you into thinking that Chaidez and co. were much older than they were.
Now nine years later, KITTEN and Chaidez have entered a new phase in the songwriting process. “Usually I’d come with an idea, it would be hashed out in the studio and then the song would form, but with these songs, we wrote them in the room,” Chaidez explains to i-D. “I think you can really hear that energy in the music.”
“I Did It” is the first example of this new process in action, and the result is a vibrant, 80s alt-pop gem. The video matches the energy of the track, featuring lots of bold eyeshadow, gummy bear confetti, and women dancing while sensually eating fruit.
Watch the video and see what Chaidez has to say about her new music below.
Tell me about the story behind “I Did It.”
It’s a song about returning to New York after a hiatus of about two years in L.A. It’s about the mistake that you’re happy you made because you learned from it. That’s where the cheekiness comes from because the singer, me, is saying over and over again that they did it, but they’re also happy that they made the mistake.
When did you move back to New York?
One year ago. I’m in L.A. right now so I’m very turned around.
It’s been a minute since you put out new music. How is “I Did It” a step forward for you guys?
The whole record was written very collaboratively with everyone in the band and I’ve never written that way before. I think you can really hear that energy in the music. “I Did It” was one of the first songs we wrote that way. It’s really propulsive. I think that’s very different. And I think a lot of the songs were really personal to me. I think in the past I wrote as a stream of consciousness and then interpreted the lyrics after I had written them. Songs like “Cut It Out” or “G#” meant a lot to me, but I don’t think I knew what they meant while I was writing them. Each song has a very clear intention and story — each is an anecdote of something that has happened in my life.
What was the concept for the video?
We were pulling from all sorts of places, but when I sent the video to some friends, I said it was Lizzie McGuire meets Blur. We were pulling from some Nickelodeon shows and early, early Disney stuff and The Waitresses’ “I Know What Boys Like.” I don’t know if you’ve seen the video for it, but they have these shots where they zoom into the band’s face and they give this little smile.
What were you listening to when you made this record?
A lot of Pulp — a lot of Prefab Sprout. We’re always listening to Roxy Music. Also classic pop, and really studying what made certain songs really work. We’re also listening to “Firework” by Katy Perry — big hits and Max Martin hits — trying to find that balance of great pop that’s modern with older references. I think that’s what I’ve kind of always tried to bridge.
How has New York given your music new life?
I think the energy is a lot different. In L.A., it’s mainly entertainment-focused. In New York, there’s a lot going on. People go there for a lot of reasons beyond the CBS sitcom. The work ethic of New York is so extreme and hard, and I love that. I think artists can be really honest about what they’re doing and not puff their chests out. In L.A. people pretend like they don’t have another job or are driving Uber on the side. The artists are just honest about what they’re at in New York. That culture is nice for transparency.
You started performing at a really young age. Is there any anything you wish you knew back then?
There’s so much. I think the difference between myself and somebody else is that I grew up making records and making the same mistakes people make in their 20s. Maybe not taking advice from others when I should have or not humbling myself towards other people’s opinions. One big one is when my debut record came out, not fully touring it. I had moved on from it as soon as I released it. I realized you release things and they grow, and you have to play shows to promote the release. I learned to not getting discouraged by something not happening immediately the way you want it to.
Who would you love to collaborate with at this point in your career?
Annie Lennox would be really cool. She’s a huge hero of mine. If she wanted to do a song with me I’d die and go to heaven. I really like La Roux — she hasn’t put out a record in a while, but I’m a big fan of hers. She’s probably making a sick record. The first album was awesome.
How has your style changed over the years? You used to have long hair and you cut it into a self-described mullet.
I think practically-speaking, I used to wear high heels of some kind every day in L.A. Now I live in Brooklyn — there’s a reason why there’s a “Brooklyn girl” stereotype. It’s not just because they’re trying to be crusty, but you’ve gotta walk places. So, I wear non-heels. At this point I’m enjoying having short hair and having a style where I can just walk out the door in. The older I get, I mostly just wear thrift or vintage. I hate when people say that, I’m like “shut up you’re not cool,” but I don’t know. The next place I get to in my fashion sense is actually knowing designers and having a piece of something. I’m not there yet. Short hair is nice, and I’m learning how to wear non-heels every day.
How do you think your fans will react to this new batch of music?
I think that they will like it. I’m not afraid of hiding my voice — I used to drench my voice in effects and hide it behind a wall of sound. I think they’ll like that and connect to the lyrics. The music is sexy, and I think they’ll like that too.
Is there an overarching theme for the record?
A common theme is me or a character spoiling situations. One song is about my parents’ divorce and another one is about an old collaborator I was working with for eight years. It’s about how to cope when things go wrong and you fuck something up. It’s about a friendship or work relationship — it always happens.
For a while you were busking in the subways to get your music out there organically. What’s the value to doing that?
I’m still doing that. I was doing that until last month. Six months ago I started doing it to earn extra money. There’s really no downside: you make fans, you get your name out there, and it’s good for your soul. To me, every fan counts. I know that sound corny. But when you meet people on the subway and they remember you while hanging out, you make a friend and they remember you. When I’m busking and doing well, I feel like I’m doing what I was born to do.