In this new feature, we ask our favorite musicians, actors, writers, directors, or whatevers to strut their musical savvy: We pick a theme, they make us a mix.
The mixer: At age 17, Kitty Pryde has become a polarizing figure in indie rock and hip-hop. The Florida teen’s breathy track “Okay Cupid,” about a guy she likes but who doesn’t treat her particularly well, sparked a seemingly endless number of blog posts and serious articles about whether she’s brilliant or bogus. Either way, she knows her musical stuff, and made us a mixtape full of songs that describe the high-school experience.
“You Didn’t Try To Call Me,” Frank Zappa
Kitty Pryde: It’s kind of a joke, because it’s Frank Zappa, and he’s obviously kidding, but it’s about being really excited about getting together with somebody and they end up ditching you. High school is basically getting ditched a hundred times and figuring out how to deal with it. Usually whenever I get ditched, I just listen to that song and it makes me feel better.
“Whatever (Folk Song In C),” Elliott Smith
KP: It’s about going out with somebody that you have wanted to, but you don’t understand why they like you. In high school, that happened to me a lot, because I was like, “Why does anybody talk to me?” I spent so much time in high school listening to Elliott Smith.
“Unlimited Breadsticks, Soup And Salad Days,” Bomb The Music Industry!
KP: It’s just about being bored and doing whatever and wanting to go out and do shit but being too lazy, and everybody around you being super-lazy and not wanting to do anything. That was pretty high-school experience for me.
The A.V. Club: Complaining when you have nothing to complain about is pretty high-school.
KP: Story of my life. Everybody I know is like that, like teenagers.
“Teenage Idol,” Rx Bandits
KP: This one is just really funny. It’s a joke on someone [being] a slut and everybody looks up to this slut, and that’s high school completely.
AVC: In high school, secretly everyone wishes they could be a slut.
KP: Yeah, you’re like, “Ew, you’re a slut!” And then secretly you’re like, “I wish I was her…” [Laughs.]
AVC: This song has a ska feeling. What is it with high schoolers and ska? It’s one of those genres that only works for that age group.
KP: It’s true! Everybody thinks that ska is the best, then you get out of high school and you’re like, “What the fuck was I thinking?”
“Up,” Tyler The Creator
KP: This one is everybody sitting around and getting high, and that happens a lot in high school. Tyler The Creator himself is a super-high-school thing. Not only high school, but he’s really relatable to kids that age.
AVC: Do you relate to him as a young artist?
KP: I do, but I don’t think he’d identify with me. He’d probably be like, “Fuck you, Kitty Pryde.” [Laughs.] But I think he’s great.
KP: When I think about high school, I think about going crazy to 1905 and other screamo shit, and especially this track. Whenever I was upset with a boy, I would always get in my car and scream that song.
AVC: You’re from Florida, which has birthed a lot of punk and hardcore. Do you think that’s the kind of music that represents your state?
KP: It changes a lot. At least where I live, people go through phases. The same kids are starting all these bands with each other, and every so often it will just switch genres completely and they’ll just start doing a completely new thing. A few years ago, it was ska, when everybody was in high school. Now everybody’s getting a little bit older, and they’re all either in math-rock bands and/or moving into hardcore, and it’s very all trendy and bad.
AVC: Just wait until someone gets a banjo. Then it’ll be all Mumford And Sons knockoffs.
KP: Oh, I can’t wait. That’ll never happen. They don’t have the patience to learn banjo.
“Swimsuits,” The Cool Kids
KP: It’s just happy and upbeat and that sort of deal. It just reminds me of summer a lot.
AVC: Summer break is an experience that’s unique to being young. You get it in college, but—
KP: But not really. It doesn’t feel like it.
AVC: You just graduated high school. Are you going to college in the fall, or do music full-time?
KP: Right now, I’m signed up for classes at UCF [University Of Central Florida] because I wasn’t planning all this. In fact, I was signed up for summer ones, but I had to drop them because I’m not going to be around all summer. I’m still signed up for fall, and I have until the day before classes start to drop them, so depending on what happens, I guess I’ll see what to do. I don’t really know right now.
“Want You Still,” The Jet Age Of Tomorrow, featuring Kilo Kish
KP: This is about being mad about boys, because I felt like I spent all of high school being mad about boys. This whole mix is just songs I would listen to when I wanted to feel better. This song especially is like, “Goddammit, I really hate this boy, but I still like him anyway, even though I’m mad.”
AVC: Kilo Kish is only 21. Have you met her? She tweeted about you.
KP: Yeah, dude, the day my video came out, everybody was comparing me to her. There were a whole bunch of people like Earl Sweatshirt from Odd Future who were all trying to say she was better than me, and I was sad. Then she tweeted and was like, “Oh, I love Kitty’s song.” And she’s from Orlando, and I was all excited, because I love her.
KP: You make these plans, like “We’re going to grow up and do all these things together,” but then you realize “No, that’s not happening, you suck.” And that was another thing I had trouble with in high school: making these huge plans and basing my entire future around a person or a thing, and then no, it all just doesn’t happen, because I was very immature and stupid about it.
“First Week/Last Week… Carefree,” Talking Heads
KP: I don’t really know why I picked this one. Talking Heads was my favorite band forever, and that song just reminded me of school. My manager said, “Pick out songs that have to do with high school,” and I was like, “Okay, I’m just going to pick my high-school songs.”
“When I Grow Up,” Illecism & Trade Voorhees
KP: It is about worrying about what’s going to happen when you grow up, and not wanting to really put any effort into anything, but you still don’t want to end up living this loser, boring life. I think of it like, “Oh, I want to be a rapper, but that’s not a good idea, because who is going to be successful as a rapper? That doesn’t happen a whole lot.” And that just reminds me of me, because I had ideas, but I was too scared, and I thought that they were not realistic. So that’s about worrying about what’s going to happen when you get older if you don’t buckle down and start doing shit.
“Stand Next To Me,” Bad Banana
KP: This one is about going to shows and being fucked up at shows and meeting guys in bands and talking about how much you like them and having crushes on them just because they’re in bands. And that’s how I spent high school.
AVC: Do you think people have crushes on you because you rap? Do you get any weird emails or tweets?
KP: I get so many weird tweets, and sometimes they’re from people I had crushes on too, and I’m like, “Ooh yeah, that’s cool.” And then there’s a million people telling me I’m ugly and gross, so there’s that, but whatever.
AVC: Do you write people back?
KP: No. No.
“Rubber Traits,” Why?
KP: That one is kind of about being insecure, and wishing you were different things than what you are. And that’s a high-school thing.
AVC: How do you mainly discover music?
KP: I hear a lot of it on the Internet and from my friends. A lot of people I know are really, really, really into finding music, so we just pass it around. Sometimes I’ll just be on somebody’s blog and it will take me to someone else’s blog, and I’ll find a band’s blog, and I’m like, “Oh, this is cool.” Usually when I find music, I’m really obsessed with it for a little while, and I only listen to that, and then I move on to the next thing. So that’s why there’s a lot of different kinds of music in this little playlist.