And The Kids: “unconscious, accessible, existential, indie, glitter, popsicle, crisis”

Guzman

Northampton’s And The Kids having just released their debut album, Turn To Each Other, are already in the works for recording a new album in January. The four-piece self-described “unconscious, accessible, existential, indie, glitter, popsicle, crisis” band first started between childhood friends, Hannah Mohan and Rebecca Lasaponaro. The completion of the band came when Mohan and Lasaponaro met Megan Miller (synth and percussion) and Taliana Katz (bass) at the Institute for the Musical Arts, “a nonprofit teaching, performing, and recording facility dedicated to supporting women and girls in music and music business” in Goshen, MA.

turn to each other.jpgTurn To Each Other feels like folklore taking you on a dusky, tree-lined path filled with friends and creatures alike. It opens with “Pangea,” where Hannah cries out, “It takes the light to be alright / I’m the daughter of the night,” against a twisting bass line and tight percussion. The song then breaks down, swells up, and resolves in Hannah and Becca thundering at each other, “Follow the moon / Follow the moon / I’ll be with you” and a sharp, eerie guitar riff.

Fundamental to creating the dark, shimmering atmospheres in Turn To Each Other is Megan’s synth and glockenspiel, which places the album in a dreamy, close to hallucinatory scene. Think of the power of Victoria Legrand’s synth in the context of a colorful and thrashing garage sound. Emerging from moody atmospherics, Turn To Each Other quickly becomes a hurricane of relentlessly moving sounds and emotions. The album rushes at you in a flood of excitement and craze, abruptly stops, sprints in a different direction, and then comes back to running at you full-force. The band goes from vibrant in “Wiser” with sweet, twee guitar pieces and a glimmering synth; to triumphant in “Secret Makeout Factory” with marching percussion and the band asking us to “Take off our pants”; to grim in “Time Will Tell” as Hannah sings deadpan “I love you, but you’re not my friend…” against an eerie ostinato riff resettled from “Friends Again”.
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Thrusting the album in endless movement is drummer, Becca, who deftly swings the role of percussion as the album jumps from one sound to another. She goes from rattling to spry to heart pounding in seconds, readily amplifying or pulling back the intensity on a whim. In “Devastation Celebration” an exultant sound abruptly turns sinister as Becca curbs the pace, and Hannah starts to jarringly sing “Give me your spirit / Give me a one, two, three, four five…” Here, the band brings you into their ominous and into their eerie. In “Devastation Celebration,” Turn To Each Other sets out on the “apocalyptic” in the band’s self-described “apocalyptic pop” sound. In those moments, the album pushes you off the lit trail and into a dark, twisting, and wild place strained in moonlight and masked in pine trees.DSC_1124.jpg

Adding to And The Kids’ rhythmic power and fluidity is bassist Taliana, a recent addition to the band’s roster. Taliana’s bass thuds patiently in anticipation at the start of “Devastation Celebration,” trumpets alongside a cheery guitar riff, and then swiftly turns the song dark and dismal with a bass line that tugs and sways you in disorientation. Taliana paints a dense, winding soundscape with her bass, wherein Hannah’s ringing electric guitar and uke find way to bounce off from as Hannah’s parts sift through bright riffs to eerie reverb to dissonant chord progressions. Together, the band creates a dazzling, textured sound that dissolves against Hannah’s aching vocals.

Listening to Turn To Each Other, the magnetism of Mohan’s voice is immediate. She sings, blistered and weary in a folk tune like Karen Dalton, but all the while glistering, silky, and sweltering like Fiona Apple. Her voice swells in exhilaration, then in rage. Holds itself and then retreats, and aches. Laid bare and quivering, it’s motionless, briefly suspended in air in “All Day, All Night”, and it crystalizes into something ethereal as she whispers “Darkness, can’t touch you dear / We can’t find a home / We can’t find a home…”

Turn To Each Other paints a colorful, but grim picture of growing up and all the malaise and disdain that comes with it. It illustrates heartbreak in a worldly post-teenage abandon sense of the word, where apathy is replaced with hurt and boredom traded for weariness. They allude to Guthrie folk themes of growing weary on the road and losing the way in songs like “Glory, Glory,” where Hannah sings “Glory, glory, there’s a way out / The earth is under me / The wings are over me / I’ve begun to fall asleep…” And walking in folk-like fashion, the album accompanies a growing disillusionment in the individual’s life to a growing disillusionment in the world. In “No Countries,” the band cries out together, “We want no countries / We want no boundaries / We want no fighting / We want no bombing…”DSC_1034.jpg This follows in “Friends Again,” where in a solo shout, Hannah proclaims “I’m gonna wake up my brothers and sisters…” In weariness, the album sits bent over, mourning the relentless passing of time, the relentless swelling of hurt, the relentless perish of the world. Careening in grief and rage, “Neighbors” chimes from “Where did our neighbors go?” to “The animals took our friends / We can’t be silent no more…”

The DIY and down-to-earth four-piece band comes with no one grand, imposing, and calculated artistic message in their music. Instead, they lay Turn To Each Other gently at your feet, and you pick it up to find it bursting with thrill, temper, and vulnerability. And above all, a gripping authenticity that feels liberating. Turn To Each Other is inherently brilliant in this way. And The Kids comes without pretense, and instead, carry an explosive, raw desire for writing and playing music together. They have a friendship that’s compelling and a sincerity that’s intoxicating. A serious force coming from the Western Mass. music scene, And The Kids has brought forth a stunning “apocalyptic pop” album.

Before their show at Great Scott, band members Hannah, Becca, and Taliana answered some of our questions in a nice, bourgeois café/market in Allston, MA:

Hannah and Becca, you guys met in high school, and then there was an older version of And The Kids, where there were five of you? Since then, what’s And The Kids looking like?

Hannah: Yeah, we’ve kind of had a rotating cast. Since then, we’ve been playing with our keyboard player, Megan Miller, and we met her at the Institute for Musical Arts, which is a program for women in music around where we’re from. So we met her doing a recording program there. We played with her for a couple years. She recently got deported, so that’s when Taliana joined the band—plays bass. And we play with Megan whenever we’re in Canada, and we’re writing our next album with her in Canada. We’re going to record it there.

So, the new album’s already in the works?

Becca: Yeah, we’re recording in January.

Do you feel like your sound has changed a lot from then to now?

H: Yeah I do, I think it’s changed a bunch. I think Megan’s helped with that too. Before having a keyboardist, it’s such a different sound. It’s so folky before you get a keyboard. And then things get weird, in a good way, y’know? And she plays synth, so it’s not just a keyboard sound.

And how did you guys meet Taliana again?

H: We met her the same way we met Megan Miller, our keyboard player, through IMA.

B: So, [IMA] is this place in Goshen, Mass. We’ve been going there since we were 13 or 14, and then we met Megan and Taliana there. It’s a great networking thing. It’s really great… We went for so many years. We started being, like, camp counselors.

Taliana: Yeah, they were my counselors.

What were your first impressions of each other?

B: Well, Taliana…

T [to Becca]: Uhhh no, no don’t!

(Laughing)

T: I locked Becca in a bathroom.

(Laughing)

T: I was a little shit.

B: I was trying to turn my life around and be a good camp counselor, and she’s like locking me in bathrooms.

T: I was a really annoying child. At 14, I was…

H: She was the one you were supposed to look out for. The teachers would tell you about each kid—

T: Oh, I haven’t heard this. This is good.

H: And they were like, “You gotta watch out for Taliana and her friends, they cause trouble.” Also her nickname was Flea because she plays like the bass player from Red Hot Chili Peppers.

As a band, what’s it like writing and producing songs together? Are some songs more influenced by one member of the band than others?

H: I mostly write all the songs.

B: She does write all the songs.

(Laughing)

B: —It’s not mostly.

H: Right, I write them, and then we’ll come together and people will write their parts, y’know, for the song. Figure out what they’re gonna do on the song. Sometimes things might not work together, so then sometimes we’ll have to arrange the song differently for the flow of it.

Do you think your sound has changed since being signed onto Signature Sounds?

H: We had a producer with our last album, and there was no help with the writing or anything. It was more of, cutting stuff back, and maybe adding a line here or there. But it’s more of just [them] helping with the flow and helping fill everything out. To better represent us on audio, through actual programs.

B: They help fill out the sound.

T: And Signature Sounds is like…

B: They’re very chill.

T: [They] give a lot of freedom. They’re kind of just, like, “alright, we trust you. Just kind of do your thing.”

H: Yeah, they haven’t even heard the songs for the new album actually!

(Laughing)

H: They’re so trusting.

B: They’re probably not going to ‘til after. They’re a great record label. It’s our first record label that we’ve been signed to, and they’re just really great, y’know? You can always go to them with something, and they’re always around.

Michelle: Is that [Hannah’s NPR water bottle] from when you guys did Tiny Desk?

H: Yeah!

C: Yeah, that was a cool set—how did you guys decide what songs to play for Tiny Desk?

T: They were completely different songs before. I remember when you first told me about it, and it was when I was away. And you were like, “yeah Cheer for Babies”—the song that’s gonna be on the new album.

H: We wanted to do a new album song.

B: We were going to do some of our new songs that are gonna be coming out. But they want you to play off your record ‘cause that’s what people are listening to. And that makes total sense.

T: I’m happy with the ones that were picked.

B: I’m always pushing for Cats Were Born, everywhere, so.

(Laughing)

T: It’s a fun one to play!

H: Yeah, super fun to play.

Do you guys have favorite songs off the album? Well, Cats for [Becca], right?

H: That one might be my favorite too actually!

T: I mean, I think the three that were on the Tiny Desk set are my three favorites to play. I’m not sure if it’s because of the reaction that people have to them now when we play them. It could be completely influenced by that, but…

H: Think on your own, girl!

(Laughing)

T: Actually, “Glory Glory” was my favorite song.

H: Yeah, you were the one that was always like, “Let’s do that song.”

B: I like how “Pangea” came out recorded, so I was happy with that one too.

Do you guys have a really memorable show?

T: There’s a bunch of them.

H: That one was – [Tiny Desk] was pretty – it’s sort of hard to forget because there’s video.

T: I thought Otis was really fun.

B: Yeah, Otis! Otis was awesome.

T: Over the summer, we played a festival in upstate New York, and that was really nice. It’s a really small festival where everyone camps out, and we had a lot of friends that played there, too. It started raining in the middle of…

B: …I think it was Cats.

T: Yeah, in the middle of the song. And everyone was going crazy.

H: You’d expect people to start running for shelter when it starts raining, but people just started dancing harder. It was really great.

Do you guys think there’s a specific feel to Turn To Each Other? Like a congruency in that album that’s different from the new one?

T: [to Hannah] Didn’t you say it was like looking at the past for this… What was it? It was something about thinking, reflecting on the present and looking at the past.

H: Compared to the last one?

T: Yeah, I forgot what it was! Let me just think about the new songs.

(Pause)

(Laughing)

T: …You said that in Canada! I forgot.

H: Yeah, I did. I think the newest one is more reflective.

T: What was the old one?

H: I think it was actually more about the present. Or the future, actually.

What did you guys listen to growing up?

H: Growing up?

T: Gwen Stefani!

H: I liked Sh-fan—

B: Shefani??

(Laughing)

H: I liked Shania Twain! When I was growing up.

(Laughing)

H: I used to sing to her music all the time. I don’t really say that a lot. That’s always why I’m always like, “No, don’t talk about it!”

B: I grew up on a lot of classic rock. My parents were both into the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and all that stuff.

T: Yeah, you’re cool.

(Laughing)

B: And musicals! I don’t know? My mom loves musicals.

T: I’m trying to think. I went through some weird phases where I’d listen to Marilyn Manson or Ozzy Osbourne- I think it was more of a shock value. But I like Gwen Stefani a lot. I have a poster of her.

H: Do you?

B: Did that finally come in the mail?

T: Yes, it finally came in the mail! And I used to only listen to the Rocky Horror Picture Show for a really long time.

M: I feel like we all had that phase…

(Pause)

M: No? Just us two?

B: No, I haven’t seen it, no.

T: I find that really…disturbing. It’s like my favorite.

What about favorite musicals then?

B: Ooh, there’s a lot. I like My Fair Lady a lot. I like Jesus Christ Superstar.

C: Yes, I love Jesus Christ Superstar!

T: That’s a great one, so good.

H: I like The Sound of Music. The Sound of Music taught me how to sing, y’know? Taught me my arpeggios and everything.

B: True.

T: I like Hedwig and the Angry Inch. You should check it out.

What about music you guys are listening to now?

B: Right now, I have like one song that I keep listening to, I don’t know if [Hannah and Taliana] are sick of it yet. I don’t know if you know who Cuddle Magic is? They’re from Brooklyn. They have this one song, I don’t know what it’s called, but it’s number five off of… their album?

(Laughing)

H: Info Nympho is the album title.

(Laughing)

B: I don’t know, I’ve been listening to it all the time. Just that one song.

H: No, it’s a good song. Also, I like Marco Benevento.

B: Oh yeah, he’s good.

H: And Ryan Power! So good.

B: Oh yeah! From Burlington, Vermont.

T: Micachu and the Shapes. She’s from England, she’s great. And then, I just discovered this band, Butter o8. They’re from the 90s I think, but they’re the side project of Cibo Matto. They’re really good—but they’re not a band anymore. Short lived.

B: Do you know Palehound? That’s another one. Ellen from Palehound is playing bass for PWR BTTM tonight actually. They’re really great.

You guys played SXSW last year, right?

H: Yeah, and the year before. Twice.

C: How was that?

H: Sweet.

B: We really like it.

H: We’re friends with Mother Falcon, and they’re from there and they’re really big.

B: They’re a 14-piece orchestra pop band.

H: So, it turns out we have a lot of friends in Austin, TX because of this one band, it’s pretty sweet.

B: They always put us up and always put us up under their showcases, and we always have a really great time. We play this great garage show every year, I can’t remember what it’s-

H: Ghost Cat. It’s sweet, it’s like this punk garage.

M: Wait, that’s awesome. We should…

C: Yeah, we should go to SXSW.

T: Are you guys going to be in Texas around that time?

C: Probably, I think it’s Spring Break.

C: Yeah literally everyone‘s at SXSW always.

T: Yeah! The list for this year is a lot of my favorites. Micachu’s gonna be there.

B: No?!

H: No way?!

T: Yeah, I’m actually gonna freak out.

H: Why don’t we ask them to play with them?

T: That’s such a good-that’s-wow, I’m gonna cry…

(Laughing)

H: Don’t cry, actually just be active about it!

T: I know!

Is SXSW your favorite festival would you say? Or if you guys could play at any festival, which would it be?

B: Ooh, I don’t know… I don’t know too much about festivals, I know some names but not what happens there.

H: Yeah yeah, me too. I could say Coachella and stuff… That one sounds great. I’d like to play NXNE. Isn’t Osheaga a festival? In Canada or something?

(Laughter)

B: The Ottawa Blues Fest.

T: Or Montreal, some festival there.

H: Yeah, I definitely want to play the big Canadian festivals.

Do you like the big crowd, festival scene or more intimate spaces when you’re playing?

B: I guess I like them both. Yeah, sometimes it’s really nice to play outside, and sometimes you don’t want to play outside.

H: For me, it depends a lot on the sound. If the sound is really good, I’m so happy to play anywhere. It has a lot to do with how I feel on stage, if I don’t feel like I sound good or I can’t hear something… it can really affect my energy. Somebody else could say “That was the best show ever!” and I would be like, well, I didn’t feel like that… I mean I’m glad you liked it but… y’know? I felt like I could’ve done better because I wasn’t feeling good about what I needed. It’s nice to play outside sometimes, getting the breeze, but sometimes the sound is a little weird out.

T: I like playing outside when it’s nighttime.

H: When it’s night, I don’t like to get bit by mosquitos on stage.

(Laughing)

T: I’d be okay with that.

H: Call me prissy, but I don’t like it.

T: We’ll just put a mosquito net out.

H: (Laughing) A mosquito net around the whole audience. I love that.

What’s it like for you guys watching an audience react to your songs now? Do they react in specific or surprising ways?

T: For new songs? Or songs in general.

C: New songs. And songs in general, I guess.

H: Yeah, you can definitely see it, it’s so funny. I think when you’re in the audience, you don’t think anybody on stage can see you…

C: Oh that’s true, I feel that.

(Laughing)

H: But people on stage can see everybody! So, you really do get to see reactions, and in different places, different reactions. It’s really interesting.

T: I grew up in New York—I grew up in high school going to shows in Bushwick… But I think places like that, people don’t react because it’s not cool to? People don’t dance.

B: Really?

T: Yeah, I feel like I have a lot of friends that don’t.

H: Wow, this is so insightful!

T: I still have some sort of anxiety sometimes, but a lot of my friends just won’t dance. I’ll be playing for them, and they just [stand there], but afterwards, they’ll be like, “that was amazing!

H: And you’re like, “no, fuck you!”

T: But I understand it, because I’m the same way. It’s hard sometimes, certain people will be so into music that they’ll just—that’s how they respond. Even for myself, just not moving at all, I’m so into the song.

M: You’re just, like, entranced by it.

T: Yeah.

H: Yeah, I do love that side because I know-I know that I do that as well. Sometimes, I need to-I need to just watch.

B: I’ll see people singing along and stuff, I would say especially after Tiny Desk, a lot more people – I mean that was a few songs – but they’ll sing along to them which is nice. Always a good reaction, when they scream for “Cats Were Born”.

T: After the first chorus, I think everyone knows what’s coming.

(Laughing)

Different songs on the album have really different sounds and feels to them, where does that come from when you guys are producing your songs?

H: Yeah sometimes if something’s going in a certain direction, you have to pull back and go somewhere else with it. That’s kind of our rule of thumb: if something’s getting too rock music, we’re like, “Here add this to it, make it crazier.” If it’s getting too sultry, add in this really crazy part.

(Laughing)

B: –change the key signature.

H: Yeah, we’ll get bored. If things are getting too boring… Time change. Tempo change. Key change. Let’s do it. Let’s do something else. We just push through until we find things where we all feel like it’s working for the flow of it, y’know?

H: I forgot what the question was.

As far as when you guys write a song, do you find that people’s reaction to a song isn’t what you thought it would be?

H: There have been times when I’ve thought, “Oh this is a really heavy part, people are gonna move to this,” and then they don’t, and it’s like oh, they’re confused.

(Laughing)

H: I always know when people are confused by the music. It’s like, “Oh they’re confused by the music.” Sometimes, it’s good, you can see them kinda get out of the confusion and turn it into something good, and then some people just… never… get it.

(Laughing)

Any particular song where that happens?

H: Let me think. There actually is one— I think it’s the end of “Devastation Celebration”.

B: Oh yeah! Actually, yeah so for a long time, when we first started playing that song. That ending.

(Laughing)

H: People were really thrown off.

B: It’s really dance-y and upbeat, and then it slows down, like dun dun dundun dun… And people use to really— Yeah, I forgot about that!

H: I don’t think people liked that.

B: A lot of people said that we should change the ending, or they would say we should not end with that song.

M: Is that how you guys were ending your sets then?

B: We did that, and our friend Scott saw us play, and—we were actually playing on the West Coast in Seattle—and he came to see the band. He had never heard it before, it was like a new song, and we ended with it—

H: We always ended with new ones.

B: And he said we shouldn’t. I forgot about that. That was funny, people would just like stop dancing and they’re just kind of looking at you. And you’re like, “Oh no! I’m so sorry!

(Laughing)

T: I think it’s interesting when people give you advice about your music.

H: Right, because then you get to that kind of existential point where you ask, “Am I writing this music for the people or am I writing it because I need to write music for myself? For my own well being.” And so, it turns into—it can be…

B: Or like writing what you think people want to hear.

H: Yeah! What percent are you actually going to commit to that before you realize… that might not be good for your own mental health? Know what I mean?

B: Or for your writing style.

H: —for your creativity. Yeah exactly! For your writing style.

T: All my favorite artists, I think write for themselves. I hope. Just because, it’s stuff—

B: You’d hope it’s stuff that they feel.

T: Yeah that’s it.

H: I think a lot of dance bands, they write for people to dance which I think is nice if they’re good at it…

B: And they enjoy doing that.

H: Yeah! I like writing dance stuff because I like dancing on stage, y’know? So it is partly for me. That’s a good question.

 

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Featured image by Chattman Photography

Header image by Guzman

Concert photos by Michelle Fontan

One response to “And The Kids: “unconscious, accessible, existential, indie, glitter, popsicle, crisis”

  1. Pingback: A Conversation with Deja Carr / Mal Devisa | MELISMA MAGAZINE·

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