If you were a moody teenager on the Internet in 2012, you probably found yourself mouthing along to the words “Lordy, shorty you’re a 10” more than once. Accompanied by swaying production and a video straight out of a Lisa Frank daydream, the then-named Kitty Pryde (a riff off of the X-Men character; her real name is Kathryn-Leigh Beckwith) had music publications falling over themselves to declare her at the forefront of a genre of music dubbed “Tumblrwave.” Characterized by sing-songy delivery and sighing heart lyrics, “Okay Cupid” paved the way for Kitty’s first EP release, “Haha, I’m Sorry,” which also featured the Riff Raff collaboration “Orion’s Belt.”
But for the most part, that girl is gone. While Kitty (no more Pryde) retained her sparkly-eyed persona, she is no longer that head-over-heels hip-hop debutante. Having gone through a digital trial by fire from both “hardcore” genre fans and general internet trolls, Beckwith has scaled back her social media presence but tightened up her musical output, culminating in a double EP drop in 2014: first, impatiens in May and then FROSTBITE last week on November 18.
For more insight behind Kitty’s changes, we went straight to the source for some answers:
How have you seen your fan base change throughout the years, from “Okay Cupid” to now?[My fan base] used to be like, grown ups who were really into dissecting everything and writing wordy articles. Now, it’s mostly just kids like me — teens (I guess I’m not necessarily a TEEN anymore, but you know what I mean) who have a lot of feelings but still want to have fun.
What, if any, elements of your past musical style are you taking into your new one?
I have always been really into writing lyrics and I always make sure that everything I say in a song is coming from a real feeling in me. It sounds corny to say it that way but I think that’s why even though my new songs are SUPER different from my old ones, you can still (hopefully) hear my voice and get to know me through what I’m saying.
Who is your favorite female musical icon in any genre?
While FROSTBITE became available for download and streaming on Bandcamp immediately, its formal debut came in the form of an album “listening party” at the Roxy Theatre later that night. Despite its supposed purpose, the show was Kitty’s to curate, and she invited Lazerdisk, Chippy Nonstop and Dawn Golden to open for her.
The three opening acts wouldn’t seem to work on paper — Lazerdisk’s bouncy dance pop, Chippy Nonstop’s brash and fiery pop rap and Dawn Golden’s monolithic electronic soundscapes (interspersed with, of all things, “Ave Maria,” “Moonlight Sonata” and Howard Beale’s monologue from Network) should mix about as well as water and oil. But given the occasion, it came together well and when it came time for Kitty to come on, the crowd was raring to go.
But the momentum didn’t last. Opening with her remix of Chrome Sparks’s “Marijuana,” a thrashing, stage-hugging Kitty made it clear that she wasn’t just here to play her new EP and leave.
“✧ HOAXXX ✧” segued into “Brush It Off,” about rejection from a would-be bedfellow, and then the set abruptly ground to a halt. All of Kitty’s backing production cut out and left Beckwith, already a bit of a gun-shy performer, scrambling to fill the silence. Her solution: taking selfies with audience members and shouting out the venue, whose technicians scrambled to the stage to join Kitty’s crew in getting her back up. “How many men does it take to fix this?” she joked, even as she riffed on how she’d rather just end the show than go on after the break. (“I bet someone’s going to write about this on a blog” — ¯\_(ツ)_/¯)
And then suddenly, the show was alive again. Kitty rounded off the night with newer tunes like “BrB ( ˘ ³˘)❤” and “♡ SECOND LIFE ♡,” cavorting around the stage with a trio of dancers while laughing through her lyrical delivery, before capping it off with new single “Miss U” and the now-stalwart “Okay Cupid.” But when it came time to go, she scampered off the stage, a shoeless, disheveled mirror of her fans in the crowd.