Musical artists will give a zillion reasons for Why They Do It, but if they were really honest, "staving off boredom" would be the number-one Survey Says answer. Avoiding tedium: it's why musical careers career this way and that, and it's why bands are often hesitant to return to their signature sound. Chi-town electro-rap dance queen Melisa Young, a/k/a Kid Sister, is a master of avoiding boredom, whether she's infusing her supremely catchy tuneage with an inhuman get-down factor or changing up her styles record to record, year to year. Is it all about creation, or is she just indecisive?
PRO GAINS “Look, if music was like a job, like going to work. . . . Aargh! I wouldn’t be able to keep it together, I’d want to kill myself!”
"Oh man!" Kid Sis exclaims, chilling in her home town before she embarks on a spring tour with occasional collaborator DJ A-Trak that hits Royale on Monday. "I was that girl you know that changed her major every six months, or moved every year. I just can't — I can't deal with being bored! I need to constantly keep switching it up, making it happen." And make it happen she has, in a pretty short time: she went from unknown to über–rising star in the electro world when, in 2007, her first single, "Pro Nails," scored a guest verse by fellow Chicagoan Kanye West. 'Ye doubtless got roped in because he and Kid Sis shared A-Trak as a producer; nonetheless, the onslaught of attention meant that her career was going to be a bit more insane than she had expected.
"It was a strange time, definitely strange," she says. "I had only been making music for like a year! I was still learning — and I had to figure things out fast." But part of finding out how things work was understanding that sometimes "Hurry up and wait" trumps speed, especially when you're dealing with multiple producers and major labels. The release date of her debut full-length got pushed back farther and farther; by the time it finally saw the light of day as Ultraviolet, in November 2009, the Kanye-protégée hype had faded, and it was up to Kid Sis herself to work up the momentum. "That album is my baby and I love it, but definitely, you live and you learn."
Still, momentum is something Kid Sister has in abundance. Her music, whether down-and-dirty party rap or shimmering electro-pop, is always full of forward-motion whump, buoyed by her natural exuberance and the wattage of her indomitable personality. Her music is also inseparable from her roots: whether rapping or singing, it's always has the palpable thump of Chicago house. "Oh man, that shit was pretty much the best thing that ever happened to me! I mean, imagine this: I'm 13 years old and only listened to, like, classical music. Then I started going with my girlfriends to this teen dance club, Jubilations, and they'd play this underground house and weird industrial shit. And I was just like, 'What. The Fuck. Is this music?' It was incredible."