Pulse 2023

An Interview with Kitty Grim

by: Kate Duggan

The music career of the Unbelievable Kitty Grim is about to explode - and the half-life of their charm refuses to wear off. After performing at PULSE event Blind Date with a Book, we decided to sit down and get the scoop on the track they submitted to us, ‘Half Life’. Interview conducted by Music Coordinator Kate Duggan on March 18, 2024.

PULSE: What I first noticed listening to ‘Half Life’ was the mixing. The guitar track is very raw, but the vocals came through really cleanly on top. To me, it evoked the sense of a very emotionally-charged memory, so I’m curious as to what your intentions were behind that?

KITTY GRIM: So I think I draw a lot of inspiration from two starkly different sources; I listen to a lot of garage rock and post-punk, like The Strokes, Car Seat Headrest, bands that have made a brand around really shitty recording. But a lot of my favourite vocalists are, like, Joni Mitchell, Florence Welch; people who do a lot of harmonies, a lot of interesting vocal things. And so, when creating music, I tend to just follow my gut and worry about the dissonance and how it sounds after the fact. I think with 'Half Life' it was just a very raw, stripped-down demo. Partially because I wanted the words to speak for themselves and also partially because I think if I add to much or if I add too many layers it gets sort of messy. I think it was mostly just pulling from styles and liking the results.

P: To really cool effect! It worked so perfectly. You mentioned some of your influences, what sort of things did you listen to when you were little?

KG: Ohhh, haha! When I was eight-years old, my mom, my brother and I packed up and moved to Germany because she got a job there. I was feeling very lost and, I dunno, I didn’t have a lot of friends. One of my mom’s coworkers got me a boxset of all thirteen Beatles albums as a sort of “welcome to Germany” present. I got a little CD player, and so I just listened to that over and over and over again. A lot of the Beatles, and a lot of music that my mom and dad listen to, because they put all of their favourite music on my little iPod. Elton John, Electric Light Orchestra was really big for us. And like I said, I was listening to Joni Mitchell, so it was a lot of, y’know, oldies. The Beatles were a really big inspiration though. I still love them.

P: What would you say your favourite Beatles record would be?

KG: Augh! It depends on the time of the day and how I feel. Probably Revolver was the most influential to me. I’m also a big White Album fan, but I think Revolver is my favourite. ‘She Said’ is really good, ‘Eleanor Rigby’ obviously. ‘I’m Only Sleeping’ is great as well, lots of weird vocal stuff.

P: It’s ‘Taxman’ for me.

KG: Oh my God, I forgot about ‘Taxman’ as well.

P: And that’s a George Harrison song!

KG: He’s my favourite Beatle. When I was a child, I actually named my pet fish after him. My fish’s name was Harrison.


P: Kitty Grim. Where does that name come from?

KG: Ah! It’s a long story. The first name, Kitty: I had a really bad friend-breakup with somebody - who was one of the seeds of inspiration for ‘Half Life’ - and they were very possessive over cats and cat-imagery. It was a weird thing. And then when we stopped being friends, I thought, ‘you know what name I really love but I’ve never been able to do anything with? Kitty’. Because before, that friend would have said, ‘oh, that’s so me! I’m Kitty’. Like, argh! Shut up! So that was the first part. And the second part was that I created this character in high school who was a crime-solving rockstar, and his name was Grim. And he was basically just who I wanted to be. So when I was coming up with a name, at first I was thinking Grim Kitty, but that sounded too ‘bows-and-hot-pink’ to me. But Kitty Grim was just - yeah. That’s my name. I solve mysteries and I’m a rockstar. That’s my thing!


P: Lyrically, I’m really interested in what inspired 'Half Life'. The idea of love and war as a metaphor for love is pretty common, but in 'Half Life' there’s a levity to it, almost a joyfulness within the violence. I’m curious where that comes from?

KG: Yeah. I wrote that song over the course of several years, and it’s an amalgamation of both my own personal approach to love, and also a breakup my friend was going through at the time that was really, really toxic and bad. And from my own personal perspective, I find myself being a very destructive person, especially when it comes to relationships and how I interact with other people. I’m very quick to set things on fire and pivot. This song was kind of a reclamation of that. Yes, maybe these things will always go badly, but if that’s who I am, then that’s who I am. Its powerful and cathartic and freeing to recognize that. “Take my last words laughing and let go” is an expression of when you finally end something with somebody; in a weird way its almost funny when you finally hit that block button, or you walk away from the situation, or you yell at somebody when you’re done. There’s a freedom to not having to deal with that hanging over you.

P: Right. Even the chorus, “Take cover”; historically, to say that means it’s the absolute worst that it can get. But then, the way you switch into head voice turns it into a gleeful, happy resignation. Like a leaf just fluttering to the ground. I thought that was a really neat juxtaposition.

KG: Yeah, I’m glad you noticed that, thank you. It’s supposed to be reminiscent of yelling, y’know, take cover!, but I really wanted to hit that note at the top, so it’s a translation of that in a way.

P: It really speaks to the idea of a complete letting go.

KG: Oh, of course. Like, I’m a big bomb and I’m going to explode, and there’s radiation everywhere, and it sucks to suck I guess.


P: So, what comes first: chicken or the egg, music or the lyrics?

KG: Ohh, the lyrics. I’m a lyrics person. In fact, for this song in particular, the title and the concept came first. I was talking to somebody, and I was like, ‘ugh, I have this idea for a song, and I don’t know exactly how to articulate it, but it’s called Half Life, and I think that’s a thing I wanna do’. And slowly it sort of evolved into this metaphor of being so damaging, and carrying this damage with you, that you give everybody radiation poisoning and the half-life stays with them. It evolved from that, but the lyrics are always first. I’ll strum a couple chords, but it changes over time. But what I wanted to hit with the words was always the priority. And it still is, I think it probably will be forever.

P: I was actually going to ask about the name 'Half Life'. Whether it was the chemistry term, or in reference to the video game.

KG: It’s funny, when I sent the demo to a band that I play with sometimes, in the demo I said, “this song is called 'Half Life’, but, the bomb thing, not the video game”. My friend is really into Half Life (the video game).

P: You should ring up Valve and say “hey!”.

KG: “Hey Valve, please don’t sue me!”


P: I wanna talk about the bridge of the song. Those layered harmonies.

KG: Yeah. That came first. It was 3 in the morning, and I was half-asleep and I was listening to a lot of Twin Fantasy by Car Seat Headrest when I got the idea. At first it was a little bit lower in pitch because I was sick at the time, and then when I got better I realised that I couldn’t sing it. But I had this idea of the bridge just being one line, and the harmonies being added in exponentially like a half-life sort of does. I mean, it’s the only time the title of is said in the song, so yeah, it’s kind of the core theme. Having this terrible thing happen to you and never really truly going away and influencing everything else.


P: Describe Kitty Grim in one word.

KG: Oh.. Hm, one word? Esoteric.


P: What is Kitty Grim going to be doing in 50 years?

KG: In 50 years, Kitty Grim is going to be teaching classes at some prestigious university on the most ridiculous things, like maybe The History of Magical Girls, or Non-Linear Storytelling.

P: Y’know I saw that Harvard’s doing a Taylor Swift course now, and I thought, ‘but no Beatles?’

KG: But no Beatles. Get me in there! Get me in there, Harvard, I’ll teach a class on the history of The Muppets.

P: Can I be your TA?

KG: Yeah! Of course.


P: So, can we expect an album from Kitty Grim any time soon?

KG: You can! I’m going to get working on it when school ends. I have a bunch of demos that I want to turn into real songs, and I have a friend who is good at that stuff, but he’s currently in New York. When he comes home from college we are going to work on stuff. I am cooking up an album, and I have songs that I would like to keep releasing.

P: Fantastic! I’m excited. Where can we support you?

KG: I have an instagram, @unbelievablekittygrim. I don’t have a Spotify because that requires money and dealing with things, but I have a Soundcloud, @garbagerockrevival. That’s it so far, I wanna make a Twitter but I’m beefing with Elon Musk right now, so…

P: Is there anything else you want to add?

KG: Free Palestine. That’s what I want to add. Reach out to your representatives, get them to tell Trudeau to stop funding a genocide. That’s my message.

Kitty Grim can be found on Instagram @unbelievablekittygrim, or on Soundcloud @garbagerockrevival.