Kitty Coen – The Hellcat is Ready to Roar

Kitty Coen was never meant to blend in.

With bright orange hair flowing out from underneath a black cowboy hat, the Nashville by way of Austin alt-pop artist confidently flaunts her many varied influences.

It hasn’t always been this way for Kitty. She actually had quite the long, and winding road to learning to embrace what makes her unique. It was a road that not only led to her discovering her true self, it led to the creation of her recently released full-length album ☆ HELLCAT ☆.

“I think I just needed to make a piece of work that was 100% me,” Kitty says of the intensely personal ☆ HELLCAT ☆, “not a bunch of producers, or whoever telling me what I needed to do.”

On the heels of the release of ☆ HELLCAT ☆, and with a tour coming up this summer, I caught up with Kitty over Zoom, and she opened up about what led to her embracing what makes her different, and the emotional depth of her new album. She also discussed why you’ll be seeing a lot of music videos from her, and the reason she says she’ll be creating music for the rest of her life.

Start me off by telling me about some of your first experiences with music, and how your influences have grown and changed over the years. 

Alright. My first experience with music was probably in the Avril Lavigne, Hilary Duff era. I was born in ’96.

I think I was really inspired by the kind of bad attitude, girl rock of Avril, and then my first concert was Hilary Duff, and she was like the main pop girl back then. So I think they led me to wanting to do music.

Then growing up, being from Texas, I listened to a lot of country music, because that’s what my parents listened to. Things like The Chicks, and stuff like that was really influential.

When I got older I got really into bass music, and drum and bass. I think that led to all the electronic elements, and programmed elements in my music, that combination of live band stuff, and then samples, or tracks.

What excites you most when you find a new band, or genre that you want to dive into? 

Probably visuals.

I’m a big visual person. If a band has music videos, or cool content for me to go down a wormhole with, I really love that.

There’s so many bands on streaming platforms, so if they have a good visual, that’s really what makes me into them.

With that in mind, I’m guessing you pay a lot of attention to the visuals you make. 

Yeah. I think I have a video for every single song (on ☆ HELLCAT ☆) except for two.

That’s a lot of extra effort to put in, but since visuals are the way you discover artists it makes sense that you would put in that extra effort. 

Yeah, and I also started out with film.

Before I was a musician, I was very into film, and scripts. That’s what I thought I wanted to do for a good portion of my life.

So I think when beginning, of course I like the music I write, (and) I write it kind of in the sense of a movie, but I think the videos are really what I love to do.

Are there any major differences in your creative process for music versus film? 

I think that with film, the plot is more important. You need the loose ends to be tied up, unless it’s one of those films that doesn’t do it on purpose, and it’s up for interpretation.

With music videos, you don’t really need to have a plotline. At the beginning of my career, I felt like I did, but then I started to realize music videos are more just visual reputations of the world that the song lives in.

If you have an Ariana Grande budget, for sure, you can do a whole plotline music video, but just for the sake of time, and stress, and money, making something that’s pretty simplistic, but still lends itself to the art, and the song, is the best way to go. I think somebody who does this really well is Billie Eilish. I think she does a really good job with these simple concepts, that are really gut wrenching, and progress over time, even if it’s subtle.

I would say that that’s probably my biggest difference.

There’s nothing wrong with simple. Not everything needs to be “Thriller” or “Bad,” 10, or 15 minutes long. Also, the technology that everybody has nowadays is so much better than it was back then that you don’t need the budget that you used to need. 

Yeah, exactly. Which is so nice.

I haven’t really gotten behind the AI stuff yet, just because it freaks me out.


Yeah, it freaks me out, and it still looks kind of AI.

I mostly dislike AI because it takes people’s jobs, but then when I go to transcribe an interview, and I send it to some AI transcription service, it does the whole thing in 40 seconds, and I’m like, well, it does have some uses. 

Yeah, exactly.

That’s how I feel when writing my Spotify pitches.

Getting back to your music, and your life, you embrace what makes you different. How long did it take you to be comfortable doing this? 

Probably around (age) 25.

I didn’t really pursue music until I was like 24. Then within a year I kind of had a group of friends. We got together during COVID, and we were friends, but it wasn’t really a good fit, and I was kind of trying to become someone I wasn’t. I was watering myself down a lot for other people.

Then when I moved to Nashville it was my first time really being forced to be alone, and discover who I was, and discover what I really wanted in life, and not just what I thought everyone else did. It was a very dark time, but at the end of it, it was great, and I feel fully myself now.

So I think probably at that point, when I moved to a place where nobody I knew lived, I was forced to kind of look inward, and figure out who I was.

I think hearing that age of 25 is going to be really helpful to a lot of folks, because I think a lot of people get scared when they don’t know who they are when they’re like 16. 

Yeah, and I feel like boys don’t figure it out until their 30s.

I feel like a lot of my guy friends – they’re good people, it’s not like they’re bad people when they’re 20, or whatever – but I feel like a lot of my guy friends start to figure it out at like 35, 36, but you have so much time, and everybody’s journey is so different.

In the music industry, I’m constantly feeling like because I’m not an 18-year-old pop star that I’m never going to make it. It’s like, dude, that shit is so … it’s just societal bullshit. It’s not true at all. Lana Del Rey’s 38, just played Coachella. Jelly Roll’s in his 40s, he just got Best New Artist. Kacey Musgraves didn’t win a Grammy until she was 35. It goes on, and on. So I think, especially for women in the industry, you just have to keep going, and not let silly things like age make you decide that it’s too late, because the only way you can really fail in this industry, in my opinion, is by giving up.

There really is a place for everyone, even though it doesn’t feel like it, because a lot of those vanilla singer-songwriter types that might be in it for the fame, or the money, give it two years, they’re going to be like – oh shit, you don’t make any money being a musician.

No, you don’t, and you’re probably not going to be famous until ten years down the line, so get in line, buddy. But that’s just how I feel.

☆ HELLCAT ☆ is the name of your new album. So how are you a Hellcat? 

So, I am definitely an opinionated woman. I’m definitely a strong, opinionated woman.

I think a Hellcat, in the terms of the dictionary, talks about a spiteful, violent woman who uses evil powers to do magic. So basically a witch.

(After seeing that) I got really into witch hunts. That was mainly what I was reading this past year. It was the topic I was obsessed with, and so I started to realize that witches, and the word witch, used to not have such a negative connotation. It was used for these holistic medicine women who cured illnesses before the dawn of the Catholic church, and the Christian crusaders, and all of that.

So I think that the word Hellcat, or witch, has been used negatively in society, so the whole point of the album is to take back that energy, and that word. So that’s what I think in the sense of how I’m a Hellcat. I wouldn’t say I’m spiteful, or violent, but I would definitely say I’m not mousy. I know how to get what I want.

I think as a woman you’re raised to be nice, and sweet, and that’s good, but then when it comes to getting what you want, or getting shit done, people are always like – oh, well, so-and-so’s bossy, or so-and-so’s a diva.

If I was a guy, would that be different? Oh, it would be.

So I think I’m just a strong lady who wants to get shit done. Honestly, at the end of the day, I think that’s what makes me a Hellcat … and I’m fast like the race car.

You have this glam cowgirl imagery on the cover of the LP. In what ways does represent you, and your music? 

I think there’s always a Western energy to my music.

I’m from Texas. I’ve been really inspired by desert landscapes. I spent some time in Terlingua working out there on a horse ranch. Stuff like that, I think, has always found its way back into my art. It’s kind of in my DNA as far as that Western ride through the desert on a horse with no name energy.

I think the glam aspect of it is derived from a lot of drag queens, and the LGBTQ community. I am closely tied with a lot of people in that community, so I think I’ve always been inspired by the glitz, and the glam, and eleganza of it all.

I will say I’m kind of leaning away from that disco cowgirl energy with this ☆ HELLCAT ☆ era. It’s a little different this time, but I definitely think that those two things are why I kind of lean towards that.

How much would you say we learn about you when we listen to ☆ HELLCAT ☆? 

If you’re really listening, I would say a lot.

You learn that I don’t give up easily. You learn that I fly a little too close to the sun all the time, that I struggle with depression, and that I was in love with someone who was addicted to drugs.

You learn that I used to have an addiction issue, and I’ve healed myself from that.

You learn so much, but you have to be an active listener.

If you’re not being an active listener it’s still badass music. You’re still going to love it.

Have you ever written a song that was so personal you put it away because it would be too emotional to perform? 

Yes, that’s how I was with “Fade,” which was on my first EP, or my first LP, whatever you want to call it.

“Fade” was one of those songs, but I eventually did end up putting it on the record, and singing it live.

For this (album), honestly, “Everything’s a Mess” was a really hard song to finish, and write, just because it was at such a pivotal point in my life that I just couldn’t (complete it). I kept changing things, and I was never happy with it. Then I finally got there, because we made the end of it a power ballad instead of it continuing to be really depressing. I think that was a big shift, because I was able to show my anger, I think, and funnel my anger into the art, which is really what this whole album was for me.

Knowing that you have lyrics about depression, and addiction, really heavy topics, have you had any especially emotional exchanges with listeners who’ve connected with your songs? 

I would say so.

Starting off music in the age of TikTok, and the internet, I’ve had a lot of people reach out that have said – I’ve been listening to you for three years now, and I’m so happy to see you’re putting this stuff out. I lost a family member to this, or I struggle with this.

For me, those are the things that keep me going.

I think that just the idea of being able to help one person, or connect with one person, with something they just needed to hear that they might have not been able to put into words, that’s what so many artists have done for me, so I think that’s the real reason why I’ll continue to do music for my life.

So yeah, it happens quite a lot, and it’s the best thing ever.

Whenever people say something, I’m like, oh my God, hell yeah.


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