When I made my way inside through the back door, I didn’t expect such crowdness to greet me. The small, smoky, grungy yet charming venue held all of Kitty Solaris’s fans tight and impatient. Forget about making it to the bar…you couldn’t. Forget about going to relieve yourself or powder your nose… impossible. The fact that the door bitch (not that you are one Sarah) already was almost in the street with her little box full of cash should have been an indication of Kitty Solaris’s popularity. When Kitty releases an album, people come to watch her do it and they hopefully line up to buy it. Not that many CDs get sold this way anymore, but good on Kitty for trying. She has her own label, not only for her own music but a platform that gives breeding space to other like-minded artists.
Before Kitty got on stage at Schokoladen in Berlin Mitte, I managed to dwindle a little and try to find my + 1. Mission impossible. I decided to wait in the overcrowd and let her find me. I had enough space to hold my beer tense to my chest without spilling it all over my neighbours. One in particular had enough space to burn her best friend’s scarf, without even trying that is how stiff we were packed. So finally the show begins. And straight away the sound was in the bucket. What a shame. Kitty’s voice and entire soul struggled to be heard. Feedback, annoying and deranged noises let the show down. Kitty’s songs are so intimate, powerful and commanding. I thought these qualities would top the technical problems. However live, when you cannot hear well a voice that sits between PJ Harvey and Beth Orth, you want to throw a bottle or spill beer all over the mixing desk or the person behind it. The crowd was patient and supportive but Kitty was out of patience. Overall the show fluctuated between glistening moments of imposing indie rock sounds, Sonic Youth like grungy love ballads, to rock songs about daily drudge. “You should shave mister, before you kiss me”, was one of those titles that clicked the truth, if you know what I mean.
Kitty’s songs are fresh, possess all the feminine allure that they should, they draw you into their story plots while the melodies are well structured and played with great vengeance. And that is all coming from one of the most petite, polite and soft appearing rock and roller chicks who roams the streets of Berlin with her sturdy guitar behind her back. Once she looks at you with those penetrating eyes, you would go home and shave before your lips touched hers. Despite the technical problems the show was alive, the audience raw and ready for what they got, Kitty slightly angered pulled it off better than I thought she would. The stage, her home, it was her record release party after all, and she could have cried if she wanted to, but she kept her calm under such karma. It was enviable to any hot-blooded diva around. Not Kitty, however. She kept playing her songs till the drunks went home. Through whispers, with feedback, her guitar either too quiet while the drums were too loud, she finished her set and proved to us that Future Air Hostess is an enjoyable and embellished album.
“I have always been an outsider here in Berlin, didn’t belong anywhere but knew a lot of people in many scenes. I am more of an individual.” That is how Kitty sees herself in this rock and roll sea called Berlin. The music was always more interesting to her than belonging to any scene. “Being able to see so many international good bands from all over the world is so great about being me.” She runs a monthly night titled LoFi Lounge where away from the glitz and glamour of so many other events, Kitty promotes bands whose music you can take a bite from and taste quality and dedication.
As a promoter she does a great job because of her eclectic taste. Not bad for a girl who calls herself, “shy and who was never happy at school”. I believe her as an outsider who learnt about music by listening to indie bands inside the four walls of her bedroom. “When I was young, the music meant a lot to me and impressed me a great deal. Bands like Primals, Dream Day, Cannibals, Violent Femmes, Velvet Undergroud, B52s and Patti Smith made my days less lonely. I played a little guitar as a young girl, in my hometown Marburg, you know Christmas songs with three cords. I always played music alone at home. But I never thought I will ever be in a band.” But you know little girls grow up and their dreams too. One day in Kreuzberg, she saw a poster asking for a singer influenced by PJ Harvey. “I contacted them, had a rehearsal, I improvised a great deal and the female drummer told me to give my own stuff a go. So they called back and we began to rehearse together. We had nice times, drank beer and took a long time to arrange the songs.”
As she preferred to sing her own songs, Kitty brought more and more of her songs to the rehearsals. A new and a better drummer, Stephan replaced the old one and he was very much excited about the band’s potential. However Kitty had too many songs and the band too slow to grab them. “Finally I was asked to perform solo at an art opening. I was so shy to do it alone that I disguised myself with wigs and make up. I had to drink a lot of wine before in order to face the public alone. The audience thought it was a very funny show. They were amused by my clumsiness and my shyness. And that is how my solo career started. I asked the band’s drummer, Stephan to play the drum machine and guitar for me. Our style became rockier, before it was more minimal, more electronic. He still plays a big influence upon my style and how I compose the beats. Then Rod Miller from Portland joined us on keyboards. He is so talented and plays in so many other outfits with Richard Ruin, Bee & Flower amongst others.
Before this new album, her third, Future Air Hostess, Kitty Solaris produced two others and three Eps alongside them. On each record she has a title from a film. On this new one she has Lost in Translation. “This album is about love, loss and lost love. My voice is getting better and better all the time. It has developed during rehearsals. My songs did to. They have become more spiritual, more mature and I am more comfortable singing live now than ever before. Now I love playing live because in the studio due to time pressure you can’t wait for the right sound or the right mood. I believe that music has a lot to do with the mood. And when I play live, I am always in the mood.” She has come a long way from hiding herself and her songs underneath wigs and make up. Well I always said that when you come home with your lipstick smudged and a groupie in tow, you are not a little girl anymore.
Last year in April, Kitty was on the road with her band in Germany and Switzerland. “It was such a funny experience, touring with four people in a small car, three acts on tour all supporting each other.”
And now that Kitty Solaris has conquered the indie scene in Berlin, Germany and Switzerland, has she got more expansive plans? “Yes, I want to expand my new label, afford the pressings of my cds and if all goes well than I plan to support and represent many other talented indie rock musicians.” Not a bad dream from someone who was an outsider once upon a time. But than again it is always the outsiders who are the most talented because they have the time to reflect and create. The others are too busy trying to be popular and being liked.