By: Emily Gibson & MK Cantrell
The Prettiots’ music is an ideal soundtrack for a gossip-filled, matching PJs slumber party where you cast spells on boys who have done you wrong. But while the band may play ukulele-infused indie pop, don’t let them fool you: they aren’t settling for busking on a Brooklyn street corner or Youtube covers of pop songs. They’re reaching international stages.
If you search for The Prettiots on Spotify, you’ll see four songs spread out over three releases, but no full-length album. Plug their name into Google, though, and you’ll find articles by The New York Times, NPR and Rookie Mag featuring the New York trio.
Considered a breakout act at the 2015 South By Southwest, The Prettiots are gearing up for the release of their debut album in early 2016. The album is being released via Rough Trade Records, the label the band signed with in May. “We’re going to be doing some weird shit, so get ready,” Lead singer Kay Kasparhauser says. “It’s definitely going to be a fun, weird album.”
It can be hard for a band from New York to stand out. In order to distinguish themselves, The Prettiots – “Pretty Idiots” – realized they’d have to become the band people would expect three young girls to be, but on their own terms. They decided to play into the image of dumb, tennis-skirt wearing high school girls to play off the stereotypes people have about pop music. “We are going to do exactly what you think we’re gonna do but times ten because we’re actually making fun of you for not expecting us to do anything with our music,” says bassist Lulu Prat.
"We are going to do exactly what you think we’re gonna do, but times ten because we’re actually making fun of you for not expecting us to do anything with our music"
Now signed to a label and touring internationally, The Prettiots are able to focus on portraying their actual selves through their music. Kay says they feel like they tricked people into taking them seriously. “Our whole thing was, ‘we’re not serious, you don’t have to take us seriously, no pressure, but just listen and check us out,’ but in reality we were very serious about it and we were like, ‘we’re making pop music here,’” Kay says.
The Prettiots’ music is catchy, cutesy indie-pop akin to the Aquadolls or Girlpool. Coming from various musical backgrounds – Kay played noise-rock and Lulu performed in punk bands before they became The Prettiots – their songwriting process is a hodge podge of genres clashing to make indie pop. “It’s like, ‘what do I like about this shitty electropop song’ and ‘what do I like about this 17-minute ambient song,’ and how can I marry them into one indie pop song?” Kay says.
Naturally, The Prettiots’ best songs are written organically. By writing for themselves without worrying what will get them respect in the industry, they can create music they’re proud of. “It’s always when we come to each other and say, ‘look at this funny thing I wrote’ and then we’re like, ‘as a joke, let’s put a melody over it’ or ‘as a joke, let’s add this harmony and drum beat’ and then we’ll realize we just wrote a whole song and it’s actually really sick,” Kay says.
One of their first releases is a three-minute confessional about the boys Kay dated in high school – aptly titled “Boys (That I Dated In High School).” The story behind the song is simple: Kay was texting her high school best friend about her past flames and, later, walking around a park with a baby she was nannying. While she walked, she was saying rhymes about the boys that eventually resulted in the song’s lyrics: “these are the boys that I dated in high school/ I thought they were so nice and I thought they were so cool/ these are the boys that I dated in high school/ they weren’t very nice and they weren’t very cool.”
Their songs touch on darker topics, including rejection, self deprecation and self loathing, but they want people to feel a glimmer of hope beneath it. “I think it’s all about knowing something sucks and hating everything but also knowing it’s all good and none of it really matters,” Lulu says.
Though The Prettiots have started presenting themselves more seriously, they still experience discrimination from sound technicians and audiences when they arrive at shows as a young, all-girl band – an issue they blame on both their gender and age. For Lulu, who studied audio engineering, it is especially frustrating when sound guys at their shows assume she doesn’t know how her own equipment works. “I’m like, ‘homeboy, I know more than you, but yeah, you go ahead and tell me I don’t know what I’m doing,’” she says.
The Prettiots have garnered both a devoted fan-following and an arsenal of negative comments about both their appearance and music. For Kay, who has been in the public eye since she started attending parties as a teenager, Internet negativity isn’t a big concern. “Being a kid who isn’t into mainstream shit and being a weird kid, you just develop a thick skin,” she says. “I honestly couldn’t give less of a shit about Internet haters.”
"Being a kid who isn’t into mainstream shit and being a weird kid, you just develop a thick skin. I honestly couldn’t give less of a shit about Internet haters."
They respond to Internet trolls the same way they responded to the crowds who expected them to be dumb, high school girls – by doing their thing and not caring about what anyone thinks of them. “We get some hate from people who don’t like our music or our look,” Lulu says, “But that’s why those people are trolling us on the Internet and we’re out here doing real-life shit.”