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There are tons of contemporary indie-pop duos, but few are as dynamic as K.I.D. The Canadian electro group, comprised of songwriter Bobby Lo and vocalist Kara Lane, has yet to release a debut album, but their two EPs, K.I.D (2015) and Poster Child (2017), have set them up to become voices for a generation of sexually frustrated and self-medicated suburban misfits.
We caught up with the band, below, to talk about their new single, "Happy When I Cry," and find out where they're taking queer narratives in pop music.
OUT: How was K.I.D conceived?
Bobby Lo: I wish it was a more interesting story. It was super organic. I think we were both the loudest voices in the room. I was into writing, Kara stood out like a sore thumb because she was like, leagues above our peers. She was such an awesome performer and vocalist.
Kara Lane: What Bobby failed to mention is that we actually did not like each other for a very long time at the beginning of high school. We were rivals a bit, and then we bonded over, you know, we had similar taste in music and cigarettes and stuff. We started making music immediately after that. Bobby was writing really great songs, I was singing a bit. And then, you know, a marriage began.
You moved to Toronto to pursue music for a while before recently relocating to Los Angeles.
Bobby: Well we never even really moved to Toronto. Both of us lived at our parents' houses in Mississauga, which is a suburb of Toronto, and it was just really a matter of--I mean Kara was staying in the city a lot because she had boyfriends who lived there, whereas I just had a fridge. We would ride the trains to gigs in the city. 20 minutes, not super far.
What made you decide to ditch Canada for Los Angeles?
Bobby: I mean in Toronto we were on the radio and we were getting good press, but it was kind of like a very isolated bubble. Not that we were a big fish in a small pond, but maybe like a relatively girthy fish craving a bigger pond.
Kara: It's very easy to hit a glass ceiling here, you know? I mean, in Toronto. There's a lot of great music coming out of Toronto but it wasn't really the best place for us to be working on pop. There's a lot of great hip hop going on here, but I think for pop it was best for us to relocate. We also signed a record deal, which kind of forced us to go down [to LA].
You guys self-identify as pop, but you definitely don't sound like a typical Top 40 act. How would you guys describe your sound?
Bobby: I like saying a '90s teen movie soundtrack meets an '80s porno soundtrack.
Bobby: Oh, digi-grunge! Because there's this live, bedroomy element but also a laptoppy digital sound. Or we'll say The White Stripes with more estrogen, or Smashing Pumpkins with more estrogen. Just estrogen, basically.
Kara: We love estrogen.
Your new single, "Happy When I Cry," was released last week.
Bobby: It was cool for us to be able to do "Happy When I Cry" and "Elevator," which is our next song that's coming out, because I think they'll give people an idea of where we're headed. As for the lyrics, well, there's this dude who's been my muse for way too long and I kind of wanted to have a last hurrah. You know how sometimes you just want to cry and you find yourself digging for something that stirs up emotion just so you can fucking let it out? I guess it's a little bit masochistic.
What can we expect from the album?
Bobby: It's a concept album, which is why we're pretty adamant about not including "Happy When I Cry" or "Elevator" on the album because I think it flows really well and it feels like a coherent body of work. 11 songs, it's concise, it kind of has a beginning, a middle, and an end. It's called Tired All the Time, so it's very much speaking to the whole lethargic sentiment...
Bobby: It's like an odyssey of the different stages of our mental unrest. There's a sexual frustration song, an insomnia song...
Kara: An anxiety song...
Bobby: ...and there's the vengeance song about the ex-lover, or the person who only wants to hook up with you when they're drunk, or feeling antisocial or almost agoraphobic at times and how those feelings can come about.
Kara: And there's some love peppered in there too!
Bobby: Definitely some love. It's like a pile of trash with some candy sprinkles if you dig for them.
Bobby, you're primarily a songwriter. Would you say that most of those songs come from your experience, or would you say that they come from shared experiences?
Bobby: A lot of them are pulling very much from both of our experiences, but at the same time I think that what makes our dynamic so effective is the fact that we've grown into super different people. I'm a little more moody and I really crave alone time and, not that it's healthy, but isolation a lot of the time, whereas Kara really thrives in social settings and I think it's fair to say she's more comfortable in front of a lot of people. And I've had some unique experiences as a gay man from a middle eastern family where the thought of being an artist was just so taboo. I definitely had my opportunities to speak to those super personal experiences on the record, but it was still very collaborative. The second I write something she'll come and be very frank about what she thinks works and where she thinks it should go.
Kara: And if there's something I don't feel comfortable saying or is worth saying, I'll let him know. Something that doesn't feel true to me or something that may seem feigned if I'm the one singing it. But that's rare.
When you dropped "Happy When I Cry," you also released a bizarre lyric video featuring a bright red dancing baby.
Bobby: I don't think we can take a whole bunch of credit for that, as much as we'd like to. There's this graphic artist who we found on instagram who we really kind of fell in love with. He actually designed all of the visuals for our live show. Initially we had the dancing baby as the backdrop for when we perform our song "Boy," but we thought it would be interesting to pair it with "Happy When I Cry" because obviously people associate babies with crying and there's this delicate nature to a child but kind of juxtaposing that with having it dancing felt very representative of the lyrics, and of us as a band, coming from this very fragile place and young place.