In 2012, Kitty (formerly Kitty Pryde) burst onto the scene with “Okay, Cupid,” a track which turned out to be a surprising overnight sensation. From there, she released several EPs and a few high profile singles, including “Orion’s Belt” with Riff Raff. Her career took off from there and she hasn’t looked back since. Mostly because she isn’t very proud of her past as a rapper. Instead, the newly matured Kitty hopes to transition simply as an artist in a league of her own. Kitty’s evolution continues with the recent release of her first full length album, Miami Garden Club.
A far cry from her days as a rapper, Kitty’s new album highlights a new synthpop direction accompanied by an experimental sound with personal, powerful lyrics. She stops by Patchchord News to discuss her latest project, the themes centered around that project, and the music making process she endured from working on this project for the last few years.
Before we start talking about your music, I just have to ask: how was that Katy Perry concert the other night?
It was so fun! I had never been to a concert. I guess I saw Kanye on the Yeezus Tour, but I had to write about it so it was like…I don’t know. I didn’t get to enjoy it, so this is like my first big arena show and I was, like, blown away.
Are you writing about the Katy Perry show as well?
No. [Laughs]. Just got the tickets from my friend, so I was like “cool!”
Is Katy Perry one of your influences as a musician, or are you just a fan?
Not really an influence. I sorta like her old, cute, California Girl, pretty, dreamy, Candy World stuff a lot more than I like the new her. I don’t know. I feel like her songs are more mean now. [Laughs]. I don’t like the mean stuff, but I don’t really think of her as an influence.
Going back to what you said earlier about the writing you’ve done on the side, do you consider yourself a journalist, or is it just a hobby when you write about music for places like Noisey?
Well, I wanted to be a journalist [laughs], but I think I sort of made my opinions too much apart of it, so I think, it’s sort of like…I don’t know. i don’t think people take me as seriously as a journalist, so I haven’t been calling myself that for a very long time.
What’s your writing process like for writing articles? Is it similar to your music writing process?
Kind of. Most of the time when I used to write for Noisey–I haven’t done that in a while–or other websites, they mostly just ask me if I would write about a certain topic and they would come up with the topic. And I would be like “Yeah, sure, I can think about that.” It’s kind of the opposite because when I write music, it’s more like I start with just words instead of just, like, the actual concept or idea. I just start writing words down. It’s more abstract.
Is it kind of like a train of thought kind of thing? You write whatever comes to your mind?
Yeah, exactly. And when I write articles, I do research and stuff [laughs].
How does your research process go? Do you research for your music, too?
Not really. For my songs, I just want them to come out of my brain and my heart [laughs]. So I don’t really look things up, but…usually when I’m writing an article, it’s just, like, 25 minutes of me Googling things and clicking on links…but, usually, the thesaurus is usually the one common denominator in both of those things. Because, like, when I’m writing songs, I always have a thesaurus open [laughs].
What was your writing process going into Miami Garden Club?
Some of the [songs] are really old. From like four years ago. I think the oldest one is, like, four years old. But, mostly, I start with the word, and I’ll just write down words that sound like they go well together. Even if they’re not formatted, they’re, like, structured in the right way. I’ve had notebooks and notebooks filled with words I just thought of. Then I had instrumentals–or I would make instrumentals–that just sounded great. Sometimes, I would take a chunk of lyrics that I’ve written down, and then make an instrumental that sounded like what I was talking about, and just sort of paired them together. But it was really long. Took awhile [laughs]. Usually, the words are the first to be solidified, and then the instrumental comes later.
I read that your album took three or four times to finish. Why did it take so long?
Well, the first time, I thought that I had written all the songs…made demo versions of all those songs, and I had my notebooks full of lyrics, and I went home to Florida to visit family, and when I came back, I had it all packed in my suitcase, and when I got back, it was stolen from the little baggage claim. I never got that back. So, that was like the whole first draft of the album. I remembered lyrics and had rough stuff, but [for everything I didn’t have and couldn’t remember] I had to fill in the blanks, and there were a lot of blanks. And it just sort of kept going that way. Where I would lose things or I’d be like “this sucks” and I start completely over because I don’t like to tweak things that I don’t think are good enough. I like to just like to completely start them over [laughs]. So that’s why it took so many drafts.
Out of all the times you re-did the album, when did you realize that this version of Miami Garden Club was the one to stick with?
I don’t know. Well, it was sort of like one song at a time. Because, at a certain point, there were a bunch of versions of the same song. So I worked for like weeks and weeks just thinking about one song and making it perfect. And then, I’d be like, “Okay, cool, this is done.” And then, I have a problem with not feeling finished with things…you know? I could just go on forever. Like, I could be still working on it now [laughs], if I let myself go. There had to be a certain point where I would be like “Okay, I think this is good.” And then I would show it to my husband and he would be like “this is good.” I would show it to people that I trust…and I would be like “Do you think this song is ready to finish?” And then, finally, I’d force myself to [finish it]. And then, eventually, where I would collect a song that feels complete to me, I think that maybe it’s done, and then I just sort of sat with it for another couple weeks and listen to it and, I don’t know, thought about it. Then, finally, I’d be like “Okay, if I keep going, I could just make this go on forever so I’m just gonna…I think it’s done [laughs].
Your whole album feels like a genuine evolution of yourself as an artist. Especially this one song, “Mass Text Booty Call.” It’s so different from what you’ve done before. What was your mindset going into that track?
Well, that one was written…not the parts that I did, but that was sampled from another song that already existed, and it was by this kid named Sprightly, and I found it once. I used to just sit on, like, the internet and dig for songs because I used to DJ a lot [laughs]. So I would just dig through music and try to find things that sounded really, really cool that nobody else had really caught onto yet. That weren’t just, like, big poppin’ songs. So I found that song and I was like, “Holy shit! This is so good!” Then, I played it on my radio show. People were just like “What is that song?! Play that song!” I was like “I don’t know! I just found it on the internet!” I looked it up and I wrote to him “This song is amazing! I wanna, like, work on this song with you. I wish I had been there when you were first making it because I wish we could’ve made this together.” This is such a tight song! It used to always get stuck in my head. So I was like “You should do something on my album. I think it would be really fun.” And he was like “Sure, let’s do it!” So I recorded more stuff and added to it and kind of messed around with it a little bit. It’s one of my favorite [songs on the album]. It’s the most fun song, so that’s why I made that video for it [laughs].
Going back to how your new songs sound really different, I’d say the same thing about the first track on the album, “Miami Garden Club.” Not just as far as your career, but as far as everything else on the album, the song sounds a lot more melancholic than anything you’ve done before. So, what was your mindset going into that song and why is it so different compared to everything else on the album?
Well, that was another track [where] the instrumental for that was from another guy that I found when I was just searching for things to play in a DJ set on my radio show. It was just so beautiful, and I felt like it needed vocals, but it seemed so emotional and was important. So that was another one where I hit up the guy who made it and I was like “Wow, this song is so beautiful. I wanna do this with you.” Then, I didn’t know what to do with it, but it was such an important song that I had to do something that felt really important to me, too. So, I wrote the lyrics to it and I recorded it, and I did all of that stuff in like 30 minutes, which is the fastest song I’ve ever written. And I was like, “This feels very important to me.” Then, I kept it, and I didn’t think I would be able to use it for my album at all. I didn’t give it a title or anything, and then I kept it because I thought it was good and figured I would save it for something else. Then, when I was putting together all the songs that were finished and, like I said, I would complete them and be like “I’m done!” I started to use it as an intro and make it shorter, but I didn’t wanna cut it off. It was just like a weird, I don’t know. I kept having to convince everybody that “No, I think that this song is, like, an important thing.” Then, I decided to make a video. I was just like, “I need to make a video for this song.” This is the first thing that I want the visual for, and so I made that video, too. The whole time, I think it was just supposed to be an intro, so I think that it helps balance out all of the bubbly fun stuff. I never want everything to feel too sugary and fake, and so I think that it balances out all of the bouncy happy moments [laughs]. I guess I didn’t really feel happy when I wrote the album, so I thought that it fit a lot more than just leaving it the way that it was.
You mentioned the music video for that song. It’s a really interesting video; it seems so creative. What was your mindset going into making that video?
Well, it was the closest…I don’t know. I guess the whole album is supposed to be a story. It sort of tells a story, but it’s probably not an easy story to follow [laughs] for anyone that’s not me because I didn’t really tie it together very coherently, but that song in particularly sort of has a lot of references to rape and abuse and bad things happening. Traumatic stuff. Starting out very pure, and then just losing control. And that’s just what I had [the woman in the video] do. She’s just covering herself in beautiful things. In white, in glitter, and sparkly stuff, and looking so beautiful, and then losing control of what’s on her body and losing control of herself, pretty much, and in the end not even understanding where she is or what’s going on. That was kind of the entire scene of my whole album [laughs].
Going back to the idea that you’re evolving as an artist, do you still consider yourself a rapper? Because a lot of the album feels more like synthpop than rap.
No, I don’t really consider myself a rapper anymore. I haven’t in awhile. Not that there’s anything wrong with being a rapper, but I didn’t think that it worked for me. I thought that I was sort of making a spectacle out of myself. No matter how much I cared about the songs and the words I was saying, it never felt like I was saying them the right way when I was just rapping them over beats. It wasn’t the same.
Would you call yourself anything as a musician right now (rapper, pop star, etc), or would you just rather be called a straight up musician so that no one can put you in a box?
Yeah, that’s kind of it. I just wanna be an artist.
After all those years of working on this project, the album’s finally out now, it’s a great album, it’s getting positive reviews…the question is, where do you go from here?
I don’t know. Because, I guess I spent so much time with all of my songs for three years almost. At least two years went into just thinking about this project. I was just like “This is the thing. I have to do it.” Then I did it, and now I’m just like “Oh wait, it’s done.” So, I’m still sort of figuring out what’s next too, I guess. I wanna play shows, that’s my favorite thing to do. I’m already working on [laughs] my next album. I’m sort of scared ’cause I don’t really know where to go from here, but I think that maybe no one really knows. [Laughs].
You mentioned you’re already working on the next album. What can we expect from it? If you have an idea of it already, is it going to be similar to Miami Garden Club? Different?
I think it’ll be similar in the sense that…I don’t even really know what genre to call that. It was a very confusing process trying to label it. But the next album is definitely going to sound similar enough to know that it comes from me. Which is not something I can say about the rest of the stuff I’ve put out because most of them are very disjointed. But the next [project] will be a lot more cohesive.
Before we end this interview, is there anything you would like to promote? Like an event you’re working, a tour, etc.?
Well, I’m about to play some shows in Florida. Which is really cool ’cause I haven’t played shows in Florida in a very long time. So, in the first and the second week of [October], I’m doing a whole bunch of shows down there. I’m releasing a single with The Dope Twins in the next couple months, so that’s really exciting! I don’t have a whole lot of details about it though. So, I guess there isn’t really much to promote. Just, uh, my album! [Laughs]