French post-punk-rrriot band Radical Kitten: “Silence Is Violence”

Original album art by: Anne Careil. Handmade collage by B.

Radical Kitten are a rrriot post-punk, queer feminist band from Toulouse, France. We caught up with RK’s Marin (bass-vocals), Marion (drums) and Iso (guitar-vocals. Très bien!

ALL: Hi! We’re Radical Kitten, a post-punk-rrriot band from Toulouse! We formed two and a half years ago and we just released our first album Silence is Violence.

How did you first discover music?

MARIN: I was very young, my uncle played guitar really well and even sang with his dog (and it also sang!), I think it marked me.

ISO: very young too, I come from a family of classical musicians and started playing an instrument at an early age.

MARION: As a child, I was surrounded by my father and his sisters who played folk songs and sang together at family gatherings. We had instruments at home: violin, piano, drums, banjo, auto-harp…

What did finding the underground Riot Grrrl feminist punk movement mean to you?

MARIN: It was really nice to discover a scene with people I could identify with. I think the Riot Grrrl movement showed me that women could also play music on their own, to have this kind of insurgent energy, these powerful personalities at a time when the pressure of the codes imposed on women was very important, it opened the field of possibilities and it was an important discovery for the teenager I was, even if musically I always remained much closer to hip hop.

ISO: As a teenager, I listened a lot to Nirvana, and that brought me to the Riot Grrrls (and to many other excellent bands by the way!). I always liked raw and/or energetic music, most of the time with women singing, and hated rock bands of old macho guys! Even if I didn’t identify myself directly with the Riot Grrrls musicians because I didn’t consider myself as a girl (without putting then the word trans on my identity) I was, obviously, very touched and concerned by their words and their rage (which are still completely up to date!)

MARION:  I actually don’t identify too much with the Riot Grrrl movement as I never really listened to it. But I admire those women who, at one point, even in underground music circles, had to shout out loud that they were able to make music as well, put their rage on the table and took the space they deserved and needed. It surely inspired other women until now to make music the way they want, not necessarily with a sensual aesthetic or whatever, just to be musicians.

What inspired Radical Kitten to get together?

ALL: We don’t pretend to do more than just enjoy making music together, we are lucky to have this musical and friendly/human connection, it’s hard to find!

You’re from Toulouse, France; what’s it like where you live? Is your song ‘I’m Bored’ about where you live?

MARIN: In fact, this song wasn’t about Toulouse but about the city where I come from even if to tell the truth in France at the moment with the confinement, I imagine that we’re really starting to get bored everywhere!

Recently you released your album Silence is Violence; where did the album title come from?

MARIN: The title refers to the silence that invisibilizes social problems. It’s also a nod to the album that is anything but silent!

ISO: The title of the album can be understood in many different ways, that’s also what we liked. When we chose it, last February, we didn’t yet know that it was starting to be one of the slogans of the Black Lives Matter movement…!

There is their silence, as Marin speaks, but also ours, which we must fight as well, as evoked by Audre Lorde, “a black (lesbian) woman warrior poet doing (her) work” in this beautiful text: “The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action” that you can read here.

What kinds of things did you find yourself writing about for the new album? Do you have a process for writing your lyrics?

MARIN: The lyrics come spontaneously after the instrumental part. I compose them like a musical instrument, my approach is more rhythmic than literary.

For the subjects I am very often inspired by personal stories, dramas. It has often been a good way to move on. We also deal with political subjects: coming out (‘Blind’), fed up with work (‘Say Shit’), transphobia (‘Shitty Questions’) of which Iso also wrote the lyrics etc…

Songs ‘Say Shit (to your boss)’, ‘Sorry’ and ‘Full Circle’ were originally on your demo Contre nature han that came out last year; how do you think the songs changed from being on your demo to being on the full-length album?

MARIN: Clearly…. the tempo!

MARION: Those songs were released just a few months after we started to play together. That was the very beginning, so since then, we improved in lots of ways. For the full album, we knew better what sound we wanted, and had a much better look at the whole thing.

Can you tell us about recording Silence Is Violence? You recorded at La Grange Cavale with Manuel Duval, right? What was one of your favourite memories from making it?

MARIN: Recording in socks next to the wood stove that was heating with the view at the field and of course spending time with the kittens and our great hosts!

MARION: When we recorded the voices at the end, it was funny (and a bit sadic, I admit) to hear Marin singing with her raw (nude?) voice, without any effect and no music. It was a bit like a little kitty trying with all his strength to be a tiger. I also loved to watch how the whole recording was driven by Manuel, see how to use the software, and all the technical parts.

ISO: I very much appreciated those moments when we prepared the meals all together with our adorable hosts, and enjoyed them together (the French side!). The emotion on the last day to hear for the first time our compositions with such a sound, and also a huge laugh when that same evening we listened again to our very first rehearsals with notably the song ‘I’m Bored’ in an embryonic state and at a ridiculously slow tempo!!!

Who did the cover art for your album? It’s really beautiful! What can you tell us about it?

MARION: Thank you! Anne Careil did the cover art for the album. We actually recorded the album at her house and we got along well. We learned that she was a great graphist and drawer, she made the cover arts for Rien Virgule (her band with Manuel) for instance and it’s very cool. Her website can be found here. We asked her to make ours, she was very thrilled at this idea, and paid close attention to our “expectations” while keeping her own style.

What have you been listening to lately? Is there any other cool bands in your area we should know about?

ISO: I’m currently looking back at the Raincoats’ discography, which I really love! For more recent stuff: Sweeping Promises, Cheap Meat, Special Interest, Immigranti, Lithics, Romain de Ferron.

Cool bands from Toulouse: Docks – a great shoegaze slow-core instrumental duo, in which plays Manon, from Hidden Bay Records, super cassette label.

Petit Bureau – a post-punk duo that has just released a great first album.

The Guilty Pleasures – a very cool surf post punk band which has also just released its first album, and in which Emily plays, from the very cool label Dushtu records (and who had recorded the demo for us too!).

BooM – super power-violence noise band, in which some friends from the Pavilions play, the place where we rehearse.

For the Riot Grrrl style, there is Trholz from Toulouse, and from Bordeaux, Judith Judah and LKill.

To finish, it is not a Riot Grrrl band but we recommend you very strongly to listen to La Chasse de Marseille!

What’s something that is important to Radical Kitten?

ISO: Having fun playing together.

MARION: Getting famous!

MARIN: [Laughs at Marion’s answer]!

ALL: What is really important for us is… cats!!

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us or tell us?

ISO: We dream of doing a tour in Australia, I’m just saying!

MARIN: As Iso said.

MARION: Here is a very nice recipe I’d like to share with you, it’s a Turkish soup or “mercimek corbasi” very easy. In a big saucepan, you sear with olive oil, a big onion, a big potato, 2 regular carrots, tomato pulp, some garlic. Add some spices: cumin, curcuma, paprika, chilli. Then, you put 500 grams of coral lentils and water. If you find dry mint to add, it’s perfect. Mix it and eat it. Bon appétit bien sûr!

Please check out: RADICAL KITTEN on bandcamp; on Facebook.

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