With Chloe Chaidez at the helm, electro-tinged rockers Kitten claw their way to the top of L.A.'s under-21 scene.
By Leonie Cooper. Photographed by Lauren Ward
It's late November in Los Angeles, and a chilly rain has been blanketing the city for the past four days. The sidewalks are slippery, the sky is gray, and the outdoor tables at Silver Lake's hipster coffee institution Intelligentsia are empty. But the winter weather doesn't seem to bother Chloe Chaidez, the 17-year-old founder and frontwoman of L.A.-based four-piece Kitten, who's standing outside wearing a well-loved faux leopard-fur coat. “It's not even that cold,” she says, rubbing her arms.
Despite her slight chill, Chaidez—with her fishnet tights, smudged eyeliner, safety-pinned earlobe, and fascination with the more gothic reaches of electronica—is no delicate creature. She looks as if she could have rolled straight out of the early 1980s, which makes sense given her musical heroes. Annie Lennox, Tears for Fears, Devo, Prince, and Depeche Mode’s Dave Gahan have all influenced Kitten’s industrial-tinged sound, which treads the line between caustic and cutesy. The band currently has one EP to its name (the outstanding Cut It Out), with a self-titled debut due out on Elektra Records sometime next year (a solid date has yet to be set).
A former state gymnastics champion, Chaidez lives at home with her family in suburban Pasadena, but is a long-time fixture of L.A.’s thriving under-21 scene. “There’s a blooming youth culture in Los Angeles,” explains Chaidez, a regular at downtown club The Smell and Hollywood’s AMPLYFi. “There are a lot of kids that really have just dived into music and the arts scene.”
The Smell was the site of Kitten’s first-ever gig, back in 2010. “It was horrible!” Chaidez groans. “It was so bad.” Her guitar players started yelling at each other midway through the performance, and Chaidez hid in the bathroom for a full hour after the show. “I didn’t want to see anyone,” she recalls, still cringing at the memory. Luckily, the disastrous evening didn’t put her off from pursuing the project, and after a slight rejiggering of the band’s line-up, she set about honing Kitten’s pop-driven dark-wave sound. The nightmare performance is a far cry from where the band finds itself now; the day after our interview, Kitten will appear on a bill with No Doubt and Best Coast at L.A.’s Gibson Amphitheatre.
Over the past two years, Kitten have gone through a number of different incarnations, including one that involved three-quarters of up-and-coming Highland Park punk brats FIDLAR. “I used to see them play at house parties all the time,” Chaidez says. “Zac [Carper, FIDLAR frontman] would be like, ‘You can’t be here. You’re gonna get drunk and it’s gonna be my ass on the line!’ They were like my cool older brothers who wouldn’t let me hang out with them.”
Other musicians in Kitten’s ever-growing circle of friends include Paramore, whose Hayley Williams invited Kitten to support them at a recent show in Pomona. “We’ve kept in touch,” says Chaidez, with a hint of bemusement. “She texted me after the show and was like, ‘Hey girl, if you ever need anyone to talk to, just call me. You guys were awesome. I see so much of myself in you.’”
Styling: SKYE STEWART-SHORT
Hair: DANIELE PIERSONS
Makeup: DANIELE PIERSONS