Tell us about Kitty.
Kitty is a complex subject. She is a songwriter, producer, singer, voice actress, label owner, visual artist, sound engineer, keyboardist, medium, mascot. She recently moved back to her home state of Florida, where she lives with her husband Sam and our two dogs Clover and Spaghetti. Most of the time, we are the same person.
Kitty has existed to the public since around 2011, when I was 18. She is forthcoming in her emotions, possibly to a fault. Easily wounded but truly resilient, maybe immortal. She is an expression of my insecurities and fears, and over time I have found that it becomes difficult to create “Kitty music” when I am not in the throes of trauma or pain. For this reason, I don’t always like to step into the “character” of Kitty, who is a bit stunted in maturity, but fiercely determined to make it through whatever she needs to survive and thrive. She is a reluctant leader, an eager student, a fantastic listener, and a powerful writer with a voice that does not always obey her. I am not good at letting myself be vulnerable, but Kitty wields her vulnerability like a fucking machete.
As I’ve grown I’ve begun to realize that “Kitty” and “me” are separate entities, and that I do not always need to embody all she represents. Our experiences are congruent, but our reactions are unique. My friends and family don’t use the name Kitty very often anymore, and that is very poignant to me: the name aloud sounds both childish and over-sexualized, and I think at a certain point it stopped fitting me. I did not ask for new names, I just ended up with them. It helps me nurture Kitty as my own inner child, and in return she helps me heal through creation and release.
How would you describe your music?
I make a lot of different music, so there is not really a way to describe it all sonically. Whatever I make is coming from a part of me that bleeds out. My solo music (as Kitty) is very autobiographical and experimental: I am spilling my guts in the nicest way possible, using whatever tools I have on hand. My usual setup involves a lot of 90s analog synths, cassette tapes, and vintage microphones, but the goal is never to create something nostalgic. I really don’t like nostalgia.
My instrumentals are usually pretty pop-friendly in terms of songwriting; when I produce, I am usually taking little moments of music that stick with me and playing around with them- it feels like I am a child holding crayons, trying to recreate Van Gogh on scraps of paper and losing track of the reference image as I go. I always hope to end up with something FAR less polished but usually more fun than my original plan.
I think deep down, Kitty is an exercise in accessibility, embracing an ugly side of “relatable moments” while pushing on the boundaries of what “pop” is allowed to mean. People struggle to label my genre and I have stopped trying, so “pop” is the word everyone uses for lack of a better one. This is fascinating to me. It informs my music so much. There is no way to accurately measure popularity anymore, considering the spread of platforms and genres and playlists and numbers. The idea of pop music is antiquated and irrelevant, yet we still employ this word as a sonic descriptor.
I’ve always been very interested in subversion of popular media, particularly things that look and sound familiar but evoke a sense of mystery and maybe repulsion. My music is not glossy, but it sounds like it’s supposed to be. The marriage of fuzz and glitter is my ultimate goal.
Tell us about your 2014 release titled ‘Frostbite’. Does the album follow a narrative/theme?
I want to say no, but when I think about it, there is definitely a narrative.
Musically, this record was the first time I actually “tried”- before Frostbite, I was not particularly invested in my music career, and I had trouble believing that I even had one. From 2012 through 2013, life was incredibly hard for me- my first releases were accidental viral hits, and I faced a tremendous amount of bullying from people who were confused by my songs and my persona. I saw my viral success as a fleeting opportunity to try something everyone wants to try, and I felt as though I was bending reality whenever I stepped into the public eye.
At a certain point I simply let go of expectation and did whatever felt good to me at the time, which is how I ended up moving in with a truly despicable man who was about 9 years older than I was. He was extremely unstable and abusive, but I was too young to recognize the violence in our relationship until it completely tore me apart. It was hard to even get away, and I ended up broken and alone in the coldest Brooklyn winter in decades, messing around with songs in my windowless apartment. I was free, but it hurt, and I had to dig very very deep to recover pieces of myself that broke apart.
The lyrics of “Frostbite” are so, so raw and basically tell the entire story of this liberation and subsequent collapse. I was freezing cold and had so much to prove to myself; before this release, I was making pretty straightforward “hip-hop”, though I’d been told over and over again that I was not the right person to be making that kind of music. I considered that valid criticism (and I still do!) and decided to pursue new styles of music that were more fitting to my taste.
Basically, I wanted to live inside of trance music, so I wrote down my toxic feelings and bathed them all in sounds that felt like healing. There are dozens of horror stories in those lyrics and when I perform the songs I often want to cry, sometimes I do.
There is self-hatred but also reclamation of identity, and the instrumentals are maybe my favorite of anything I’ve released. I am proud of the fact that they don’t hurt much when you first listen. I don’t know why, but it takes a few spins for the pain to settle in. I don’t know if I could recreate that.
Stylistically, what inspires you outside of music?
Everything organic is inspiring at this point. I spent so long walking through dark tunnels towards record deals, magazine features, artist collabs, retweets. Now that I’ve unraveled the illusion of these things, I chill in a realm where it’s unnecessary.
I spend a lot of time learning about what makes us all exist, philosophies and belief systems and origin theories. I am endlessly inspired by social psychology and how we interact with one another- usually my bursts of inspiration come from social phenomena that confuse me. I want to know why everything happens.
I also have this thing where it’s really hard for me to write music when I’m not outdoors. Most of my records have been written while I’m outside on a porch, taking walks, on the balcony. Walls and ceilings are constricting for some reason and it’s kind of annoying, but now that I’ve moved somewhere with lots of nature I feel free to make music again. I have a lot of sensory issues and something called extreme hyperempathy syndrome, which makes it difficult to feel okay when there’s extra noise or light or emotion.
These things have a profound effect on my nervous system, making me really anxious and unproductive. Hyperempathy is a spiritual asset, but a creative curse. When I’m around somebody who is feeling upset, angry or on edge, I inadvertently absorb these emotions if I am not actively separating myself from them. In these cases, my own creative energy flies out the window.
For a long time I tried to work in studios and with engineers, but I am WAYYYY more inspired now that I’ve stopped punishing myself for introversion. Now I can sit in silence, hold a rock, and write a song about it’s energy. This is sounding corny but oh well.
Teen Suicide is a project created and fronted by my husband Sam Ray, who is truly a genius of songwriting and guitar playing. The band has been around with different lineups since 2009 maybe? The music is really weird and my role is more supportive than creative-- I do some managerial stuff, play synths and sing backup. Sam has very particular, very different visions than I do.
We work very well together, but Teen Suicide is very much his band. I respect his work too much to even attempt a description of the sound. I guess it’s kind of like indie rock, but not really. You should listen to our newest album, “honeybee table at the butterfly feast”.
The Pom-Poms, however, is basically a 50/50 collab between Sam and I. It’s my favorite of our projects, and it’s my own personal Rage Room. We started in 2018 out of frustration, mostly- sort of like an experiment to see whether music could even make us feel anymore. It was also a way to separate ourselves from the “brands” to we’d accidentally chained ourselves, through years of cranking out albums and promoting them accordingly.
We’d been listening to the hardest electronic music we could find, which inspired us to finally be loud after years of singing quietly. Nowadays it is where we funnel our passion and criticism, anger and commentary, and we are endlessly amused by the reception.
A big part of The Pom-Poms is a rejection of capitalist ideals, and it’s kind of ironic and funny to be screaming at the system over EDM instrumentals. We literally dress and act as cheerleaders for the downfall of society, gender, prejudice. The irony is often lost, most notably when we had a song placed in a commercial for Marshall’s. I know it sounds SO pretentious, but it never stops being funny.
Can you elaborate on the phrase “2 pisces 2 live, 2 aries 2 die.”
I try not to spread my natal chart around too much, but most of my placements (and all of the strongest ones) are in Pisces and Aries. I have absolutely no Earth influence in my chart. My identity is so fully aligned with the general idea of “Pisces”: dreamy, elusive, empathic, emotional, spiritual, weird. My sun and Mercury in Pisces help align my expression with my identity, and I am proud to embody the quirks of the weird little witch girl. However, Pisces holds everyone’s energy- we’re healers.
We feel best when we can float around, beholden to nothing, but it’s hard to tread water when you’re bearing the weight of everyone else’s worries and pains. It’s also hard for us to figure out what’s happening in reality most of the time.
That’s why I feel lucky that my Moon and Venus are in Aries. These planets are always lighting fires in my heart, motivating me to keep on swimming through my ocean of emotion. My Aries helps me fight when I’d rather float, motivating me to burn down boundaries that I may have drawn for myself out of psychic unrest. Every time I feel like quitting, the Aries flares up.
In my mind, Pisces is baby and Aries is bad bitch. I feel blessed with these energies, and I’m learning how to harmonize through their disparity. The Pisces gives me ideas, and the Aries makes them happen. I wish I had some Taurus to level myself out, but at least I married one. The stars aligned for me and I am grateful.
How does astrology influence your creative process?
Astrology is deeply entrenched in my lifestyle and therefore my creativity is always flowing with the planets. I try to live within the broader guidelines of lunar days, numerology and the transits of planets around my natal placements. These are more personal things, outlying guides that spread away from the focus of most daily/monthly astrology. The moon is a life force and her phases become mine, my body and spirit recognize and respect the times we’re asked to give or to get, to think or to feel, to move fast or stand still. I ask the moon when I’m feeling uncreative, and depending on the night, she often blesses me with inspiration.
I also find a lot of inspiration in the research of astrology and new age healing- there are so many patterns and intricacies that ring true through all of human nature, and that is a great source of creative ideas. Especially when I am always learning things and then asking why?
Your website design is unique. Talk to us a bit about your creative process when designing it.
Well obviously, my main inspiration was MySpace. It’s probably clear by now that I can’t get enough neon and glitter, and at some point during the Covid stay-home era I felt very unstimulated. I had a million things tying me to my computer, but the internet got SO boring I just had to make something feel pretty for myself. So I sat down and decided to see if I could build a little MySpace shrine to play with. There is something very therapeutic about codes, especially when you’ve got a basic template in mind, and my website project was all about creating something expressive that still felt familiar to me.
MySpace was my first portal to online socialization, and it provided so much freedom to express yourself to the world. It feels like over time we’ve forgotten how to set ourselves apart: now we have “social media”, which is relegated to these apps where nothing is our own. We all tweet in the same font, we use the same Instagram filters, and we try desperately to set ourselves apart while forgetting that we are not chained to these apps alone.
The instant gratification of likes and favorites and comments has SUCH a strong hold on our entire culture, and it’s kept people from stepping out into the blankness that we have to work with. My website is meant to remind me that the internet is not a shopping mall- it’s a canvas. I design my websites like little art projects rather than a shareable hubs of self-promo. My music is downloadable for free there, because I honestly don’t even know if anyone looks at the site. I like to give a little reward for visiting me.
There is no other interactive element to my site, it probably crashes a lot, and it doesn’t look good on a mobile browser. But it feels like a sacred space for me, because it it is painted in my colors and says whatever I want to say without censorship or backlash or image cropping. I’m sick of social media in general, and I’m REALLLLLLLY sick of it’s effect on music as art and community.
We’re all going to die. Why can’t my website look shitty on an iPhone?
Tell us about your 2020 release titled, ‘Baby Pink’.
Baby Pink was written after I felt it was time for my music to again switch around, to assemble something more like what I myself would want to listen to. This is a theme in my creative process and the reason that my albums are so disparate in sound- I change my mind a lot, and this song was a swift turn in a new direction. I was stuck inside through covid writing music and desperately trying to launch my now-defunct label, Pretty Wavvy.
I walked into many slammed doors and wondered if it was worth my time to even keep releasing, as if i could just keep music to myself. But then I finished the song, and I had a couple more going, and I ate some shrooms one day and decided to finish a little album just to see if I could bring anyone some hope. I needed hope as well. The song is about the hope I’d planned to manifest- and in the end, I did. So it is a magical song to me.
What would you want listeners to take away from your music?
I hope for listeners to take away a sense of self they weren’t aware of before, maybe thinking something that would never have occurred to them before. I hope my songs are healing in some way, even in their chaos, and possibly a safe and soothing thing to have around when you need comfort.
I guess comfort is the main thing I hope they take away.
What’s next for Kitty?
I honestly have no idea. Things are bubbling around. I’m sure she will let everyone know as soon as she figures it out.