Chloe Chaidez, lead singer for the newbie rock quartet Kitten, sounds like an old hand. She makes her days of singing and playing bass in the cover band Wild Youth seem like ancient history. Back in the day, she’ll tell you, her dad tried to foist Morrissey’s music on her, and only recently has she come around to Moz. She sings of “Catholic Boys” and “the reasons I can’t love” with breathy world-weariness.
Ms. Chaidez is 15. A freshman in high school.
“It’s hard to imagine that it was just over a year ago I was playing covers,” she says, sounding keenly aware that she is growing up fast. “But when I started writing a couple years ago, it felt right. It turned into an actual direction.”
So at a time many of her friends might be looking forward to that big 3OH!3 show, Chaidez is drawing inspiration from the likes of Karen O, Bright Eyes and Cat Power — and turning her pals on to the merits of the Smiths. Kitten is playing club gigs — most of which her friends are too young to attend — drawing interest from music industry types and finishing up work on a debut EP.
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Kitten’s early recordings from sessions at L.A.’s Kingsize Studios can be likened to the punk-tinged pop-rock of early Metric, or perhaps Siouxsie Sioux and Blondie, revealing as they do playful melodies and tight guitar-bass-keys arrangements, with, thankfully, nothing overplayed. It’s the starting point for somebody who’s crammed a solid classic-rock education into a few short years.
“I’m really glad I played so many covers when I was younger,” Chaidez says, “because I learned so much about song and structure.”
Chaidez has been working with co-writer Chad Anderson, with the pair bringing demos to the band to be flushed out. Kitten’s lineup currently includes brothers Max and Elvis Kuehn — who themselves were teen phenoms around the middle of last decade when they were making punk rock as the Diffs.
“When I first met them, it seemed like such a big age difference,” says Chaidez, whose bandmates in her Wild Youth days ranged from age 11 to 14. “But they have have super-broad tastes in music, and they’ve been in a lot of bands.”
As a package, Kitten sounds a whole lot more experienced than it is — especially with Chaidez pressing the lyrical buttons of somebody who’s been put through an emotional ringer.
“It’s always fun when people ask about lyrics,” she says. “A lot are just stream of consciousness. A lot of songs, if you just listen to it and feel it, something comes up.”