You may recognise her as ¼ of the badass and perpetually black-clad band, Dum Dum Girls, but Kristin (formerly known as Dee Dee) has now struck out on her own, with a brand new sound and style. X-Communicate, Kirstin Kontrol’s debut solo record, is about as far removed from Dum Dum Girls’ trademark indie/pop/rock sound as you can imagine, instead harnessing a vibe that encompasses her genre-hopping range of musical influences. And we genuinely love it so we caught up with her to chat more about her new album, the magic of collaboration and finally being allowed to wear colour again.
A lot of artists reinvent themselves. Before, you were “Dee Dee”, now you’re “Kristin Kontrol”. How do the two of these personas differ?
—“Dee Dee” was the persona, the alter ego that for a long time empowered me to perform. Eight years in, with the archetype of Dum Dum Girls so concrete, it started to feel too one dimensional. Sometimes you have to unbecome what you’ve built up because it stops serving your art. “Kristin Kontrol” is simply the moniker for myself.
X-Communicate as an album, carries so many different themes, from 80s synths and new wave to R&B. It’s clear you had a wide range of references; what musicians or songs inspired you throughout the conception of the album?
—So many, and it was a lot of fun to bring them all in. I’ve always listened to a mixed bag. I tried to broaden the sound of Dum Dum Girls but there just wasn’t room. The context in which people viewed us added this weird concept of “appropriateness”. X-Communicate in a sense made up for years of lost time. Sure, there’s still The Cure obsession, but now there’s also Janet Jackson, Durutti Column, Hubert Kah, Michael Rother, Aaliyah, Kate Bush, TLC, The Cover Girls, Robyn, Kylie Minogue… Nothing is off limits if it moves me.
This album is so different from the sound produced by the Dum Dum Girls; was it a bit of an experimental sound as you ventured forward under your new moniker?
—I worked with new producers to ensure this: Kurt Feldman and Andrew Miller, the latter of whom is my musical director and plays in the new group. They’re very different but I had faith that was exactly what I needed. To do something new, to move forward, I needed to change my approach. Collaborating with them was rewarding and highly entertaining.
“(Don’t) Wannabe” is one of our personal favourites from the album. What’s yours and why?
—Same. It’s maybe my favourite song I’ve written to date. It felt honest writing it and it feels honest performing it. We kept the mild krautrock undertone and soaring guitar solos of my demo, but Kurt infused it with this gentle and heartbreaking tone that I still don’t fully understand. A perfect example of the magic of collaboration.
With the Dum Dum Girls, your style was almost as notable as the music, with you all kitted out in black on black. Does this transition allow you to experiment with style as well as musical genre?
—Yes. No black!
Since “Kristin Kontrol” is your new professional moniker, what would be your superhero (or villain) alter-ego?
—I think the point is that I don’t need to be anyone other than myself these days.