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[Q&A] Kitty Pryde on working at a theme park, getting death threats, and dealing with creeps // Thursday @ Brighton Music Hall



Anyone who has done a number of interviews with budding musical artists is all too familiar with the phoniness that goes hand in hand with a will to succeed, as the young hopeful, filled with delusion and messianic hubris, attempts to fake-humbly place their musical contributions in the pantheon of the greats. Which is why someone like KITTY PRYDE’s honesty is so awesomely awesome. Sure, people are complaining about you on the Internet today, doesn’t mean that they’ll be blowing up your Youtube channel tomorrow, even with your best intentions and applied elbow grease, right? Right. But homegirl is trying her damnedest anyway: besides a flurry of self-released jams that have built and expanded on the tricksy wordplay and bratty charm that were the hallmarks of her early bedroom-produced jams (well, if by “early” we mean “a few months ago”), she is embarking on her first full-on tour, which swings through our own Brighton Music Hall tomorrow night. I caught up with her on the day of her first tour stop; we ran a feature last week on how she is killing the genre of rap and blah blah blah, but there was far too much that had to be shorn to make that feature. Here’s the complete conversation with a teenage rap star on the verge.

Hey, what’s going on?

Not much, I’m just in the car, going to Atlanta.

So the tour has started already?

Pretty much.

Have you done a real tour before?

No, I’ve only ever done three shows before, never done a tour.

No pressure. How’s it going so far?

Well, I mean-- this is my first show, so I’m not there yet.

Ah. So, in setting this up, do you feel like you had to change your act in order to make it a real tour?

I mean, I have a set that I’ve-- it just kind of depends on how I feel, who’s opening for me, where I am, etc. I dunno, I’m not really good at planning this out, I have to do everything by myself because I don’t have anybody else to tell me what to do, so it’s kind of crazy.

Yeah, it seems like when an artist blows up the way you have, there are all these expectations that you have to live up to.

Well, I mean, the way I see it is that on the Internet, anyone can say whatever they want, but it’s really hard for people to come to my show and stand there and say horrible things the way they can online. Well, I guess they can but it’s not the same kind of deal. So I kind of have to give more of a shit than when I’m just putting things on the internet, so I guess I kind of did have to change that aspect of it. But the biggest thing for me is for people to see my personality, to get that out there, and if I’ve done that I’ve done my job.

Is your act, your personality, a provocation?

It started out as doing whatever I wanted, but people got so mad that I kept stoking the fires because I thought it was funny, do you know what I mean? [laughs] I think it’s hilarious that people get super mad about it, so I think I do instigate it a little bit, yeah!

Your music gets accused of not being “real” rap music. What do you think of that?

I think that music that’s real is not-- I mean, there are people in my town, for instance, who will make a band, and they’ll think “Let’s make a math rock band. Everybody likes math rock right now, let’s do that!” And I think real musicians do what they feel like when they like it. This is making me sound super pretentious and that’s not what I’m trying to do, but I’m just saying that people that I think of as being real are just being honest and aren’t doing it just to get people to listen to it.

But with you, people object to the phenomenon, and how fast it has all moved.

Um, I’m not sure. That definitely pisses people off. I think that there are a billion aspects of me that people hate!

Is it weird to do this tour with the prospect of meeting, face to face, a bunch of people that you have only interacted with via the Internet?

Kind of-- I never really know. I mean, we were talking to booking agents and they were like “We don’t know who to put you on tour with, we have no idea who even likes you.” No one has any idea. Just from the people who talk to me, it’s a lot of 30-year old dudes. But I’m not really sure.

Yeah, that’s the proverbial person behind every persona on the Internet, right?

Yeah.

Does your success put pressure on you to evolve your music and step it up, or do you feel pressure to keep cranking out songs that “sound like Kitty Pryde”?

Well, I don’t really like that, why should I feel pressured to-- I mean, I don’t feel pressured to do anything. I just stay honest, it’s not like Kitty Pryde is some alter ego where I assume the identity of the collective teenage girl. It’s just shit that happens in my life, and as long as the same shit keeps happening in my life I’ll keep writing in the same way.

Was there ever a eureka moment where you thought “I’m going to really pursue these songs and this style and promote them online”?

Uh, no. I posted them online as a joke, at first, and then they got a little more attention. And I was friends with people on a hip hop forum online, and there were members of A$AP and SpaceGhostPurp on there, hip hop bloggers and stuff. And they would hear it, and that’s how I got hooked up with Beautiful Lou, and he heard my song and he sent me the beats. One day I was bored and I wrote a song about my boyfriend and then put it online. I wasn’t expecting anything to happen, I guess I wanted people to hear it so I put it on my blog. I didn’t put it anywhere but my blog. But then it got crazy, and I didn’t have anything to do with it!

But at the same time, you must have thought that it was good, right?

I thought it was good, but I wasn’t like “Oh, people are gonna super love this!” I never actively-- I never emailed to my songs to the Fader or anything like that. It wasn’t a deliberate thing.

But now when you do music, it’s gonna be more deliberate, right?

Not necessarily. I mean, I still keep doing what I feel like doing. Yesterday I came out with a new song, and it got posted in a bunch of places where people were saying “Oh wow, Kitty Pryde is changing it up, what’s up with that?” And I’m like, I just made a song that I like. I don’t feel any pressure to do anything specific, I’m just doing what I wanna do, and I’m not gonna stop doing it that way.

It seems like you really want what you do to stay true to the intent of what you started doing this for in the first place.

Yeah, that’s why people liked and/or hated it in the first place. Why stop?

A lot of what’s great about what you do is that it’s funny. Is rap inherently funny?

I don’t know-- I think it’s funny because a lot of what I say, it’s different. Like, a lot of why it’s funny is people go “Oh my god, I can’t believe that little girl is saying that.” I dunno. I think rap is funny, but I think a lot of it is putting on, and I don’t, and that kind of makes it funny too.

What do you mean “putting on”?

Like “I got twenty cars and twenty bitches and twenty diamonds.” Know what i mean?

Is that part of the whole persona thing that you don’t buy into?

I don’t have a persona, I think that’s really stupid! Just because I don’t use my real name that makes people think that i’m a character that I get into, and I’m like “No, I do everything that I normally do.” If I do something ridiculous, it’s because I’m inherently ridiculous, I can’t help it.

You said earlier that for the live show, it’s important for your personality to shine through. Do you feel like, starting out, you needed an outlet for your personality?

Honestly, I haven’t done anything consciously. Like, I dunno- I think you’re reading way too far into what I’m doing.

You’re probably right.

Yeah, you definitely are! So is everybody else, though, so don’t feel bad.

I don’t feel bad, it’s what I do. But yeah, I think some artists, everything’s really thought and they have a thousand explanations for everything they do, even if you wouldn’t think there’s any thought going into what you’re hearing.

Yeah... I mean, some of my songs suck! I know it! It’s just what happened, I don’t-- I dunno, I don’t think things through, I just do what comes naturally.

Sure-- for a lot of people, that works because it’s impulsive and that’s a legitimate way to express, especially when everything else is these fake overworked personas.

Well, that’s good, if people think I’m interesting, then that’s-- then that’s what I’m going for!

Has anything really changed for you?

No.

Is everything more the same than people would realize?

Nothing has changed. Nothing. Everything is literally exactly the same. I get to travel a lot, and who I’m friends with has changed a lot. But my day to day life is exactly the same. I still drive the same shitty car and everything.

Sure-- a lot of people have this misconception that once an artist is big enough that you’ve heard of them, they’ve been presented with one of those big dummy four-foot checks and that they’re set for life.

Yeah! People are like “Hey, buy me this, fly me here!” and I’m like “I don’t have any money!” I don’t get any money from Youtube!

Do you think, if it becomes more “real”, that you’ll have to lose the Kitty Pryde name?

I’ve thought of some way cuter names, but at this point, I can’t change my name now, I’m too far into it. If Marvel gets too mad I guess I’ll have to, but until then...

If you put out a bunch of songs and no one cared and a few months later you were back to just recording songs for you and a few of your friends, how much would that affect you?

Well, I don’t really care, I got to hold hands with Danny Brown so I’m good. Some girl was being mean to me last night on my Tumblr, saying “Nobody’s gonna know who you are in a year!” and I’m like “I don’t care, I have a Betsey Johnson dress, it doesn’t matter!”

People are so focused on success and getting their name out, and everyone pretends like they don’t care.

Well, success is not how many people are listening to your music, that’s not success. I mean, the job of my dreams was definitely not to be a rapper until, you know, now. I never sat down and said “I really wanna be a famous musician”, I wanted to work at Universal Studios all summer, that’s what I was gonna do, but it didn’t happen. But I like it better this way, this is cool too.

So up until all this happened, that was your plan, to work at Universal Studios?

Yeah man, that was what I really wanted to do!

So what’s so great about Universal Studios?

I dunno, I have this weird theme park thing, I like research them. They’re my main interest, I don’t know what it is!

Well, this’ll do.

Yeah, this is cool too, this is nice. But if it all stops, I know where I’m going.

Is it all about meeting a lot of weird people in a lot of weird places?

That’s the best part. I mean, the people that are my friends now kind of freaks me out. Like I’ll go through my phone contacts and see, like Andy Milonakis and think “This is really weird.” But it’s cool, I like it.

Yeah. The other thing that’s interesting about rap is it’s all about collaboration.

Yeah! Everyone is friends. Danny Brown just knows everyone, it’s so weird to me. They all hang out! I don’t know what the deal is. [laughs]

So is that the next step, that you need to be somewhere where all these people are hanging out instead of just having them in your phone?

I mean, it would be nice, but I usually embarrass myself in front of them.

You seem very self-conscious, like you’ve already thought a couple steps ahead in terms of where this is all going, and you’re willing to handle failure, which is unusual. Usually people in your position are far more deluded.

Well, I’m a pretty realistic person, I think. And it’s not like “I don’t want a career”, because I’m working hard at this, you know? People, when I started, were like “Oh Kitty Pryde, no one’s gonna know who you are in a few months”, but I think, you know, that I have it planned out so that hopefully they do. But you never know. I’ve seen a lot of people on the Internet just fade immediately, and then they’re gone and they become a joke. I hope that, if I become a joke, I become a really funny joke!

All musical genres are full of so much delusion, but-- and I don’t want to claim expertise, but rap seems to have its fair share of delusion.

Oh man, those people are so there. Oh yeah. I’ll get emails from people who are like “I’m the greatest rapper ever, I’m the next big thing, collab with me,” and they’ll send me a link to a Youtube video with like twelve views. And I’m like “Dude, get a job.” Ok, that sounded mean, but I mean really-- the amount of overconfidence in the rap game is, like, it could explode the Earth.

Right. But we’re used to rap music being this bombardment of confidence-- and it’s not that your music isn’t confident, but the confidence just isn’t the focus, and that’s unusual.

Yeah. I’m just being honest, and I think people can relate to it. I mean, I feel like an idiot singing rap songs talking about, I dunno, getting bitches or whatever. It’s not real, it’s not relatable. But I think that there’s a whole bunch of teenage girls who have crushes on boys and they can’t relate to a whole lot else in rap because it’s not meant for teenage girls.

Do you think that’s why so many people, when they write about you or talk about you, are obsessed with finding out your age?

Yes!

I don’t get what the big deal is -- I’ve talked to plenty of other musicians over the years and I really have never cared what their age is.

Yeah-- for real, people care so much.

Do you think it’s because you’re female that people need to know the stats?

I think they want to know how big of a crush they’re allowed to have on me. [laughs] Like I said, dude, thirty year old guys, man! I don’t understand it.

I imagine that this whole thing has exposed you to a level of creepiness you didn’t expect.

Oh yeah, man, like you wouldn’t believe.

Were you prepared for that?

Yeah, I’ve been on the Internet for a while. I was excited, I don’t mind it, I think it’s kind of funny. The people who are like who are like “I’m gonna find you and come to your house and kill you,” that’s like “Okay, dude, that’s a little bit far.” But the creepy love letters I think are hilarious.

Have you gotten threats?

Oh yeah, I get them all the time.

What’s your analysis, what’s behind that?

I dunno, it’s like, people who are really into hip hop, hip hop heads who sit on the Internet all day and commiserate about hip hop and the industry and the history and they go “No, this girl is bad!” I think that’s where I get the majority of my death threats, from those dudes.

Right-- because you killed hip hop.

I did. I destroyed it.

It’s like that thing where Ice-T said that Soulja Boy killed hip hop-- same thing.

I love Soulja Boy-- what an awful thing to say. I actually feel really bad for Soulja Boy.

I do too-- he gets a really bad rap, everyone loves to put him down.

Yeah, but he has a jet, so the joke's on them!

But that’s the problem, right-- in order to get revenge, you have to flaunt your wealth. So if you don’t wind up with a jet, what do you do?

Well, see, I always have the whole “I held hands with Danny Brown” thing. I mean, if you didn’t hold hands with Danny Brown, I don’t give a shit what you say! [laughs]

So is that going to be the lyrical preoccupation for the next bunch of songs now?

I don’t know, man, I already wrote like four songs about him, and now everyone's gonna know those are about him and everyone’s gonna talk about it all the time, so I have to change them.

Every single time I say anything, like if I tweet some love lyrics, everyone’s like “Danny Brown, it’s about Danny Brown.” It’s like “Come on, man.”

Do you think that you’ve become predictable?

I better not, I hope not! I’ll just do something ridiculous and then it won’t be predictable anymore.

Right, people want provocation.

Yeah.

They’re taunting you to come up with something new and different that will irritate them.

I have to find a new rapper to be obsessed with.

Yeah, you have to move on.

Sorry, Danny! It’s over.

See; now I’m gonna misquote you and just put that on the top and that’ll be the whole article, and he’ll erase you from his phone.

Well, half of my interviews end up being about him, and now a bunch of his interviews are all about me, so it’s really like-- I dunno, I don’t understand. Like this one interview the guy asked Danny Brown about me and it completely derailed the entire interview, and I feel so sorry! [laughs]

I guess you’ll know when he starts blocking your calls or whatever, and then you’ll get the message. Or maybe not, maybe he doesn’t know what he’s dealing with.

I don’t know, man! [laughs] What a complicated problem. See, I just have constant boy troubles-- the life of Kitty Pryde!
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