by Kat Harding (@iwearaviators)
Brooklyn trio Kill Alters have a new EP, No Self Helps, due out July 28 on Hausu Mountain. The densely-packed layers of sound clawing their way through the speakers include crashing drums, wailing vocals and industrial influences -- all noticeable on the track “Shrill Birdy,” which we are premiering here today. The industrial track kicks off with lead singer Bonnie Baxter chanting over rolling drums, hypnotizing the listener and pulling them into the impending chaos.
Baxter took some time to answer a few questions via email, talking about influences, songwriting, and more. No other vocalist would fit as well with the instrumentals of Kill Alters’ latest project: her shouts, screams, croons, and childhood sing-alongs keep listeners on their toes as they wade through the album. Raising awareness for the prevention of child abuse and neglect, the album’s artwork is a collage of jarring stills, including from the activist movie Call Me Lucky, with something to discover at every glance. Baxter’s answers have been lightly edited below.
Kat Harding: Each song is a layered composition with a lot going on. How do your songs come together? What is the songwriting process like?
Bonnie Baxter: For this LP, I started with electronic drums and synths using Korg Electribes. Most of the lyrics were worked on during this period. Then we'd get together as a band and jam out the tracks for live. The process has been changing the more we play together and we've been incorporating new tools such as "Sensory Percussion" on Hisham Bharoocha's drum kit, which is a lot of fun and explores a lot of new territories. We just played our first live show with this technology and the capabilities of the drums are insane.
KH: Where do you draw your inspiration?
BB: Listening to music and experiencing life shit. A lot of this EP's inspiration for lyrics especially came from my mother’s tapes that I've been listening to and digging into the past a lot. She documented her life and much of mine, from her growing up in St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the 1970's with her nine siblings, then through the 80's into early 2000's while living here in the states.
KH: What’s your favorite thing (song, moment, etc) about the album? What’s your least favorite?
BB: I love that we decided to weaved in the “La La La”s which is mom and I singing together to a Casio stock song when I was 3 or 4 years old. If I was to make changes now lol.. I'd restructure “Shrill Birdy” a bit, but then again it fits for the time we were in when we were exploring together for the first time as a band.
KH: Tell us about the album artwork.
BB: Hisham and I worked on it together. He scanned the original Miss Piggy mask that my mom saved from when I was 4 years old. Then there are some layered stills from our music videos tied in there. We put a note "for Barry Crimmins" below. Crimmins has a film, Call Me Lucky, and he is a true activist against child abuse. Watch the film; it's on Netflix.
KH: What are you listening to right now?
Hisham Bharoocha: Morbid Angel, Ripper, Orlando, Kala, Theo Parrish, Randomer, Mumdance, Lechuga Zafiro.
Nicos Kennedy: Standing On The Corner, Mike: “May God Bless Your Hustle,” Secret Circle (Wiki, Antwon, Lil Ugly Mane), Shabazz Palaces
BB: Shabazz Palaces, Sainkho Namtchylac, Venetian Snares, Rae Sremmurd: "Swang"
KH: Do you have a favorite piece of gear you used in the recording process?
BB: Nicos has a pedal in his set up called Pitchfactor by Eventide that I love.
KH: What do you want a listener to take away from the new album?
BB: I hope whatever they feel they feel intensely.
Kill Alters' No Self Helps is out July 28th, 2017 via Hausu Mountain.