Shannon Stewart for Fuse

She's only 18, but Chloe Chaidez has already accomplished the pipe dream of many a teenager—opening for Paramore on tour. That accomplishment is even more surprising given that Kitten—the L.A. quartet Chaidez fronts—isn't all that musically similar to the pop-punk juggernaut they're opening for. 

Instead of going the emo route, Kitten's inviting, energetic Cut It Out EP reaches back to the '80s for inspiration, with Chaidez mining the defiant attitude and commanding delivery of New Wave frontwomen like Siouxsie Sioux and the Motels' Martha Davis.

With post-production on their debut album wrapping up, Fuse sat down with Chaidez and chatted about opening for Paramore, covering Prince's "Purple Rain" in concert and why she named her band Kitten despite hating cats.

The Cut It Out EP has a strong '80s vibe. Is that intentional?

I dove heavily into '80s music about three years ago. It was such a special time for pop production. The way the parts were choreographed and the intricacy of the production is so fascinating to me. Also, I think the singers were a lot more ballsy, and that got into my character. Annie Lennox is one of my favorite singers and I like the Motels a lot, too. I do my favorite vocal performances when I’m pretending I’m not myself.

So you put on a character?

Yeah, I think it’s a vocal styling. Because I don’t think I’m the best technical singer, but I get the best performances when I’m thinking, "Okay, this is James Bond meets Duran Duran." Then I think who that person would be while singing the song.

Speaking of influences, you've been covering "Purple Rain" in concert. Are you a big Prince fan?

I am. At first I was like, "Wow, should we really do this?" It's a pretty bold move. But we just do a little tag of it at the end of our song "G#." People like it. It's one of those moments in the sets where it just really shows off our guitar player and I do this whole Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey falsetto thing. It’s a cool moment and I really love Prince.

So you're opening for Paramore, which is huge. How did that come about?

We were on tour with a band called the Pomegranates—shout-out to Pomegranates, they’re really good—and we heard that Paramore wanted us to open for them [on one date]. It was really tough because it was between three dates with Charli XCX—who I also really like—and the shows with Paramore. I was like, "Sh*t what do we do?" We actually ended up doing both shows. Charli is really cool and Hayley and I are pretty close now. And that first show with Paramore was an amazing experience. Those fans are so genuine and just love live music. Ever since that first show we’ve been connected and when they found out we were making a record, they asked us to open for them. It's surreal. I'd go to sleep and think about it every night because it's just so awesome.

Are you a Paramore fan?

I actually wasn’t too familiar with their music but their new record’s good. They have a ton of really great songs on it. Their whole image has changed. They started really young—Hayley’s 24 now—and they took a long break off so they’re really maturing.

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 02: Chloe Chaidez of Kitten performs in support of The Joy Formidable at the Vic Theatre on April 2, 2013
Timothy Hiatt

Do you see Kitten as something that you'll still be doing when you're 24? Or maybe will you branch out into other types of music?

Well, I think the music is always going to evolve no matter what name I’m under. I’m always going to be evolving. I understand why sometimes bands need to change their name to start something new, but at the end of the day, it’s just who I’m making music with. Hopefully, and probably, I'm still going to be evolving at 24—it doesn’t really matter what the name of the project is.

You've been doing this since 15. Did it ever conflict with school?

No. I was home-schooled. It’s weird to think back and realize I didn’t go to high school. It’s kind of weird. But during that time I did so much. For instance, now I only write on like Ableton [a music production program] and I probably wouldn’t be as good as I am at making beats if it weren’t for that. I wouldn’t have been able to "perfect my craft," as douchy as that sounds.

Did you initially see this as a career choice or more like a hobby?

I wouldn’t necessarily say I thought of it as a career choice, but it wasn't something I was Laissez-faire about. It’s always been that way, I've never just been thinking, "Well, this is fun for me." Of course it's fun, but I think of the final recording as fun or the feeling after a show as fun. I’m not like, "Oh my gosh, it’s just so much fun making music!" Some people think of it that way, but I think that’s why art gets kind of skewed sometimes. In my eyes, I want to make everything as excellent as possible while still expressing what I’m trying to do. That’s my goal.

Does that mean it's less fun for you when you begin a project?

No, I think the beginning of any creative project is the most fun because it's all ideas and you haven’t gotten to the place where you’re like, "Oh sh*t, that wasn’t my idea, that’s not how I planned it to be." In the beginning you’re not disappointed, and you’re always going to be slightly irritated with how some things come out. Because first off, it's not going to turn out how you want people to view it and it’s not going to be how you heard it in your head in the first place. So starting out is definitely the most exciting part because you’re like, "I’m going to rule the world with this record, this going to be the biggest thing ever. It’s going to push boundaries like the next Dark Side of the Moon!"

So is your debut album going to rule the world?

No, but I think it's awesome melody-wise and chorus-wise, and the songwriting is very strong. We just spent a lot of time making sure that we enjoyed listening to every minute of the album and every second of the songs. I just made sure that I could feel every rhythm. It’s going to be cool. It’s being mixed right now, so it’s going to be out in June or July.

Will the album be a continuation of the EP or are you experimenting with some new sounds?

It's definitely a continuation of the '80s vibe that Cut It Out has. I think even more so. And it also incorporates a lot of the elements of our live show, with a bit of post-rock and shoegaze like Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine. I really like the My Bloody Valentine record. So it's a cool combination of those two things. I’ve gotten really into rhythm and grooves and just sex oozing out of things musically. When I hear a really solid, sexual beat, it just gets me off, dude. So I think that’s heavily in the music. And it also has that kind of ambient, post-rock vibe. It's going to be cool. I've also been listening to a lot of R&B lately, so you can probably hear that influence, too.

Do you have a title for it yet?

No, not really. We always wanted our first album to be self-titled so I’m hoping that it will be.

Speaking of Kitten, where did that come from? Are you a cat person?

I don’t know… it just sounded really classic and iconic and I thought it would look good in print. I actually hate cats. I really hate cats, but I guess that’s just the irony of it all. I do like dogs.

But Puppy wasn't going to work as a band name?

Yeah, probably not.