New York-based band The Prettiots may not like the expectations that come with being dubbed “a girl band,” but they certainly aren’t afraid to be girly. Made up of Kay Kasparhauser (ukulele, vocals) and Lulu Landolfi (bass, vocals), their songs read like demented diary entries, detailing breakups, crushes, and even the notion of suicide (“On a scale from one to Plath I’m like a four / My head’s not in the oven but I can’t get off the floor,” Kasparhauser croons in “Suicide Hotline). Their tongue-in-cheek approach to ukulele-driven indie pop is encapsulated in their impossibly charming debut, Fun’s Cool.
Given the forthcoming nature of their lyrics, it came as little surprise that the girls were charmingly candid during this chat, in which we cover everything from brain surgery to why dating in New York is such a goddamn nightmare.
What’s your normal day-to-day when you’re in New York?
Kay Kasparhauser: I don’t know what a normal day is. For the past couple of months every day I haven’t been on tour I’ve been asleep.
Lulu Landolfi: It’s been three months that she’s been recovering.
KK: I had brain surgery right before our last tour.
Oh my god.
LL: We joke about it, I guess?
KK: [laughs] I mean, there’s no other way to look at it.
LL: She’ll be like, ‘Can you grab that piece of paper that’s on the table,’ and I’ll be like, ‘What, you can’t get it for yourself? Did you just have brain surgery or something?’
How did it affect you on this last tour?
KK: It wasn’t a big problem and then it was… and then we had to go home. But the first tour, which was right after the first surgery, it wasn’t a problem at all.
I wanted to talk about feminism, because I think what you do is inherently feminist in a really unique way. How would you describe the Prettiots’ approach to feminism?
KK: Topic wise, our songs aren’t really radical, I would say, but they’re definitely incredibly honest and they’re definitely incredibly unashamed. It’s being unashamed of being girly. A lot of times emotions that women display more openly than men are often dismissed as stupid or unimportant. So our approach is to say, no, I feel this way and it’s just as important as anything else.
LL: It’s also saying, ‘I can be cute if I want to and that doesn’t make me any less strong.’ That’s a big part of what we’re doing. Yes we’re a girl band but that doesn’t mean anything.
KK: ‘Girl Band’ isn’t a genre. Girl Band just means we’re a band that just happens to have vaginas, it doesn’t mean that we’re going to sound a certain way or say certain things. Also, fuck you for thinking that just because I write a song about having a crush on a boy doesn’t mean I can’t also do whatever I want.
And you’re not even a girl band now, because you just toured with Eric Parisi playing drums.
LL: But Eric always says he’s a drummer playing in an all girl band. It’s one of my favorite things that he says. He’s all about it being a girl thing. But, for example, I always think of Blondie being a feminist, girl band even though it wasn’t a band of girls.
What was your audience like when you were touring?
LL: It’s a funny mix. It’s mostly younger girls 25 and under and older guys – a lot of older people who like Magnetic Fields-like pop music, that were in their early 20s in the 90s.
KK: …Older people who get the satire of it and the references. When older people come up to us after they show they tell us a hundred bands that we’ve never heard of that we sound like. Until now that’s been our demographic but this last time we started getting these teen girls. We get a lot of emails from girls that are in their late teens talking about how a certain song got them through a breakup and that’s really sick to hear.
Speaking of talking about breakups, your songs are super personal and they often “name names.” Have you ever been called out by a boy for writing something unflattering about them?
KK: I haven’t! We have this song “Boys I Dated in High School” and I mention six boys in that song by name.
LL: What about the songs that don’t name… do they know?
KK: God, I hope not!
Why do you think dating in New York specifically is such a nightmare?
KK: Because they’re fuckboys.
LL: I think people that move to New York have a certain preconception about what dating in New York is going to be like and whether or not they mean to, they kind of live that out.
KK: It’s the only city where there are shows about the dating world here. There’s an entire fucking industry based on the fiction of dating in New York.
LL: So if you find someone that’s from here, sometimes they can be the good ones. But it’s also the lifestyle here. The places that you go to meet someone and the things that you do here because of the bar scene and the party scene, it’s a lot harder to meet people on a serious level because of the environment.
Kay, I know you don’t drink. Are you both sober?
LL: No, I’m definitely not sober [laughs]
Well, I was going to say not drinking probably makes it even harder to meet boys at bars.
LL: You’d be surprised – Kay puts on a great party face. You’d have no idea she doesn’t drink.
KK: And I’ve also dated a lot of bartenders.
LL: It’s so much fun going out with her. I’ll be drunk and she’ll also be drunk and she’s sipping on Seltzer. Sober people struggle so much with learning how to do that, but she figured it out.
KK: I’m just such a wasted girl.
Purchase The Prettiot’s super cute album, ‘Fun’s Cool,’ here.