Photographer: Nadia Kennington
KITTENS OF THE INTERNET is a duo comprised of Mahuia Bridgman-Cooper and Katie Scott based in Auckland, New Zealand. Together these two kittens began making music over the sweet summer months of January (2013) & were nominated for the Apra Silver Scroll Award with their debut single, “Living The Dream,” as well as making it into the finals for the Australian Vanda and Young songwriting competition. The duo met while Katie was brewing up coffees at a recording studio where Mahuia came to compose jingles. The two bonded immediately over their love of music, films & pop music and have recently released their debut self-titled EP available on all social media platforms. I got a chance to interview these kittens and learn more about them which you could read about below:
MHB: How did you two meet? How was Kittens of the Internet formed?
Katie: We met back in 2012 at a post-production & composition house in Auckland, NZ. I sang on a commercial he was producing, then we started hanging out, listening to music, talking about what genres we loved and then on a sunny Sunday afternoon at Mahuia's place, we wrote a song together which was “Living The Dream”.
MHB: How long has music been a part of your life? How did it come to be a part of it?
Mahuia: My Nana gave me a violin for my 7th birthday cos I saw a film called “From Mao to Mozart” and it got me pumped about that screechy instrument.
Katie: When my sister & I were kids, our parents took us to their jazz gigs which was most Sundays at a smokey jazz bar in small town Gisborne. My sister and I ate hot chips whilst watching the musicians perform & it felt very natural to be a part of that scene & I just expected that I would follow their path I guess. I loved to sing from an early age but at primary school and high school I certainly wasn’t the best at it and it threw me that even the boys sounded beautiful singing high, they were so much nicer to listen to than I was…and I became very self-conscious of my lack of vocal ability in comparison to others so I backed off it. When I went to drama school, we were taught loads of wonderfully weird vocal exercises and from there I discovered that the vocal qualities I had thought were strange to listen too or were my weaknesses where actually what added to my sound being unique. This gave me a little more confidence to explore music again & so I re-discovered a love for singing and started to explore song writing.
MHB: When did you decide you wanted to make music as a career?
Mahuia: At Intermediate school (Middleschool in the USA?) they make you write a story about what you think you’re gonna do when you grow up so I drew a picture of me playing the violin outside my own sweetshop. #livingthedream
Katie: I stumbled into songwriting back at drama school when I borrowed a guitar and starting teaching myself some basic chords then accompanying it with some stories & rhymes & poems. I’d sing my songs to my close drunk friends who encouraged me to perform my songs to a slightly more sober crowd. That's when I discovered that I really loved being a singer-songwriter.
MHB: Who are some of your biggest musical influences & why?
Mahuia: it’s always been Prince. I saw him perform his ‘Piano & A Microphone’ gig just before he died. It was a transcendent experience. He’s a fucking genius.
Katie: Hmmmmmm… there are too many. But I have no trouble gushing about my love for Lana Del Rey. Super beautiful, vulnerable, ultra dreamy-girl next door, sex bomb with such ethereal ‘pretty girl gangster’ vocals. Her lyrics are, on occasion, a little bit sexist, ‘Hold me forever, don’t let me go… I’m nothing without you’ kinda vibe…. which isn’t that cool for young girls to listen to & then think that boys are the be all and end all because their idol writes that. (And we all listen to our idols for advice aye? Or is that just me?). But once I forget about one's will to die for a man, I discover that a lot of her lyrics are clever, witty, poetic, playful & damn catchy. She’s a smart writer & a skilled vocalist. And I love the production on every album. I love the way she sings and then how the producers & engineers playfully mix her vocals and oh man the guitars in Ultra Violence, they are hot. So hot! It’s all so romantic. It’s just the pure epitome of storytelling, romantic, escapism music for my ears and I love it. But that's just one of the many that I have big crushes on.
MHB: What genres of music do you enjoy most?
Mahuia: I really get over a genre if I listen to it for too long so I need to keep changing it up. I wanna listen to stuff but it’s really hard to chill out to it when music is your full time job, cos your listening to stuff all the time, so, in the downtime, silence is quite nice.
Katie: I'm a big fan of Dream pop, Indie rock, (Like Beach House) to indie folk music like Kings of Convenience & Feist as well as Jazz... Love me some Jazz. Oh and Country & Folk music by the likes of Tami Neilson, Aldous Harding & Marlon Williams. I love movie soundtracks too, like, Her, by Win Butler from Arcade Fire.
MHB: What is your creative process? What is the inspiration behind your song-writing?
Katie: One approach is that I record melodic & lyric ideas down onto my phone or computer. Another approach is to play with vocal ideas over a track that Mahuia has composed & emailed to me and then we’ll get together and figure out where to go from there. We’ll find a melody, Mahuia will find & explore different sounds to accompany the tune & it moves along like this until we settle on something. The inspiration behind the EP's songs are personal experiences in regards to discussion's we've had over failures and successes in our lives & inspired from hashtag & Facebook posts… I suppose, looking over the EP in it's entirety, the songs are from the perspective of the underdog making their way through this world.
MHB: How would you characterize your sound & what would you say makes your music unique?
Mahuia: We don’t have very many Facebook friends on our Kittens page so perhaps we can say we’re aiming for a cult-ish vibe with our sound?
Katie: cos limited group members are what make a cult aye? Maybe? Maybe we should research this. Well, anyway…if limited numbers make a cult… maybe our sound could be called ‘new romantic cult-pop’.
Mahuia: And I suppose the vocals make Kittens music unique.
MHB: What can you share about your EP?
Katie: It’s electronic and playful with romantic, lush, ethereal vocals, smooth vibes & satisfying moments of head nods.
MHB: What can we expect from you in the coming months?
Katie: We’ll probably be handing out pamphlets for our Kittens cult at our Auckland, New Zealand gigs.
MHB: Can you describe the concept behind the video for “Bitter"?
Katie: Bitter is about finding out the truth but the truth really hurts and it keeps you awake at night. So you’re lying in bed, twisting and turning in the bed sheets and your little inner critic beats you up, you’re exhausted, suffering insomnia, going a little crazy. In the video, the inner critic is played out in a literal way by the guy in the ski mask. He attacks my character, like how your own thoughts can be an assault on the mind, then you follow how I deal with it.
MHB: What is the ultimate driving force that gets you up in the morning?
Mahuia: the cat gets me up in the morning. ;)
Katie: having to pay bills…. If I didn’t have to do that I’d stay in bed and figure out how to make music from there. Or binge watch Netflix.
MHB: If you were stuck on an island with only one record forever, what would it be for each one of you?
Mahuia: Prince - Self Titled Album (first one)
Katie: Lana Del Rey: Ultra Violence
MHB: What do you think the future of music will be like?
Katie: It will be like that movie The Fifth Element by Luc Besson with blue ladies singing opera on a cruise ship.
MHB: What's on the horizon for you?
Mahuia: Get the Kittens cult up and running & do as many music projects as possible like film scoring to more Kittens of the Internet.
Katie: Learning cult leadership skills whilst continuing to write, record music with Mahuia and perform Kittens music live to people whom will hopefully dig it & help spread the word of our existence.
MHB: What does music mean to you?
Mahuia: Music is just the conduit for the Kittens cult.
Katie: hmmmm…. Mahuia lives and breathes music 12 hours a day, every day so, to him, I reckon it means to live and survive for that guy? I dunno. That sounds pretty dramatic. Sorry Mahuia. Anyway, to me music means embracing life, however f'n hard, joyous, confusing, epic, chilled or passionate. Music has always influenced and changed my life and it's been for the better.
KITTENS OF THE INTERNET just recently released their self-titled EP as well as their video for their single "Bitter" which you can check out below: