There was always something so comfortably familiar about the Dum Dum Girls’ harmonic, down-tempo fuzziness that would drench your sadness with a second coat in just the right spots. Like Jesus & The Mary Chain or The Ronettes before them, they could switch from a wallow to a gallop on a switch, but always maintain the lingering effects on a heavy heart. The new solo work from Kristin Kontrol, however, feels like a clean break and bears no trace of this. And that’s okay. The gleam of “X-Communicate” replaces the fuzz with some beats and a blissful punch of pop luster. It’s not devoid of the introspection of Dum Dum Girls, but now, it’s new and improved as a cellophane wrapped gift, so neatly put together you could swear Wes Anderson wrapped it himself. Neat.
You need this. It’ll be okay. The difference between “want” and “need” is the difference between complacency and growth. Grow up and groove out. The blanks left behind from 2014’s “Too True” appear filled in by “X-Communicate” and it challenges the casual Dum Dum Girls fan to make the leap from Dee Dee to Kristin Kontrol and embrace everything about the complexity of Kristin Welchez as an artist. It’s like she says on the title track, “She’s as impressive as she is inspired/We’re ships in the night/We are hooks beating by/We are etchings of all that’s transpired.”
How do you maintain equilibrium while touring? Or do you embrace disconnecting from it?
It’s harder to maintain it at home actually. Touring is so regimented – when to wake, when to eat, brief window to exercise, when to get dressed, when to sleep – and for me now, it’s very rarely the wild scene it was when I was younger.
How important is diet on the road and what is your regiment?
Very. I need good, healthy food to feel okay. I travel with semi-fancy, minimal hippie ware: a metal tin for food storage, a cooler purse, sometimes my Nutribullet. My rider reads like a grocery list and after shows I collect it all and prep for the next day’s meals. I’m a total scavenger.
What are 5 of the most horrific junk food items you have indulged in while on the road?
Wouldn’t classify them as horrific, but sweet potato fries and chips and guacamole are my go-to post-2am indulgences. Also in Seattle, the classic hot dog thing (vegan version) with cream cheese and sauerkraut. It’s so weird and good I occasionally recreate it at home.
What restaurant in what city are you looking forward to the most?
M Cafe is my standard lunch spot, and I’ll have to get to Nature Well for that infamous coconut kale smoothie (“sub dates for agave”)
What was the single-most blissful moment you had on stage?
I’ve had a few, thank god. I was slightly hungover – just perfectly dazed – when I played Primavera in Barcelona two years ago. The stage faced the water and the sun set during our set. I was relaxed and sang well and really just felt the warmth of the crowd and the natural setting.
Many have commented that the current state of music festivals has gone from curation of music and community to a Costco culture of serving the masses. Where do you stand on this subject?
I’ve never been a festival fan, too anxiety inducing. But I have attended a few (as an artist) and sorta came to an acceptance of them. You’d be hard-pressed to find one that isn’t overtly and obviously money-driven. But hey, I saw The Stooges, Teenage Fanclub, and Primal Scream all in one day once, and Bryan Ferry, Pet Shop Boys, Nas, and Outkast on another.
Do you find inspiration for your lyrics more at home or on the road?
I tend to jot down vague ideas on the road and then develop them when I get home. This album was so different though; I approached it as a practice or a job (not in a bad way), in which I’d sit down for hours every day and plug away.
How do you know when the song is finished? Do you have a support system that listens to your work? What are the filters if any?
it just feels finished. Not sure how else to describe it. Production may change drastically once it leaves my demo hands, but the core of the song typically remains intact. I usually pass early or late songs of a session on to a handful of artist friends for feedback …. but not until I feel really confident.
What are your top five 70s prog rock bands of all time?
Prog isn’t really my thing, though I do love Soft Machine and Hawkwind and some 60s bands that kinda meld into that genre like Pink Floyd, but I’m super into krautrock which is a clear descendent.
If there was one record that influenced X-Communicate the most, which one is it and why?
Sinead O'Connor’s I Don’t Want What I Haven’t Got – for me, aside from its incredible songs, the power lies in the vocal production and how it ties together quite varied songs. I wanted to make an album that didn’t adhere to genre as much as use it as a tool.
Define a total state of satisfaction in 16 words or less.
Altered state in a giant jet bathtub drinking spicy tequila cocktails in room with a view.
You’re at a bar. God walks in as George Burns and asks you, why should I let you in? What do you say?
“I knew it.”