Austin's Kay Odyssey released its debut album, "Chimera," in 2015, a trippy collection of new wave with lead singer Kristina Boswell's high, warbling vocals at the forefront, evoking the best bits of Siouxsie Sioux's slow jams and the layered vibe of 90s-era Cocteau Twins. We chatted with band members Kristina Boswell (vocals, guitar), Kelsey Wickliffe (bass guitar, vocals), Liz Burrito (guitar) and Vajaja Valejo (drums) ahead of their show at Maxine's in Hot Springs Thursday, August 11, 9 p.m.
There’s a video by Federico Moreno for your song, “Snake,” that’s filled with sparklers and pom-poms and filtered light. Presumably, it was made in 2015 when you released your album, but it’s remarkably difficult to put a timestamp on…..it could just as well have been 1999? 1987, even? How did you shoot it?
It was spontaneous. Fez came over after a practice of ours and started filming in Kelsey's backyard. We never sat down or talked about anything, actually. It took maybe four hours? He has a really cool aesthetic, and we felt he would create something neat-o. He does projections for shows under the name Ether Wave, and we always like his light shows, so a bit of that magic transferred to the video.
Kristina, you’ve got this lovely tremolo in the higher range of your voice. It’s operatic! Birdlike! What do you like to sing when you’re not singing Kay Odyssey songs?
I find myself singing Frank Sinatra or Leonard Cohen. Patsy Cline is also fun to try and sing with.
Vajaja Valejo, your percussion is part of what adds this sort of hypnotic trance quality to tracks like “In Our Time” and “Without You,” and you use brushes. It’s bold but never aggressive, and the fact that you don’t beat the hell out of the drums lets the vocals come through beautifully. How long have you been drumming?
Wow thank you! Let's see. I've been drumming with Kay Odyssey for 2 years...altogether about 10 years. Before that, I played bass & guitar in various Austin bands.
Kelsey, your style on the bass guitar is decidedly un-punk, melodic; it drifts, but it's never imprecise. Would you indulge me by name-dropping some bass guitar influences?
Definitely Joy Division, PIL, Siouxsie & The Banshees, Smiths. I grew up listening to new wave and punk. I like to blend the two. Also, it feels natural to mimic Kristina's vocal melodies on the bass at times.
You guys used to be called “Kay Leotard," and there were some dudes in the band! What prompted the shift?
Kay Leotard had a different lineup of people, so it made sense to alter the name. When the guys left to form their boy band, Gloves, me and Kelsey were on the hunt for bandmates. She brought on Vajaja and I asked Liz, and it was perfect.
I love the title “Without You,” because there are lots of songs already named “Without You,” where the speaker in the song can’t live without the other person, and your song seems to have the opposite message. Is it a break-up song?