With song titles such as ‘Sea of Dreams,’ ‘Wild Child,’ and ‘Teenage Graceland,’ it’s unsurprising how symbiotic Baby Alpaca’s music and NeueHouse Hollywood are. After all, this is the band fronted by Chris Kittrell, who, although originally a Cincinnati farm boy, fits right in with the California vibe – tall, good looking, with a head full of blonde curls and a warmly deep oceanic voice that harmonizes beautifully with Warpaint’s Theresa Wayman’s characteristically crystalline voice as they duet on a new love song called ‘In Your Eyes.’ Wayman and Kittrell, who are both releasing new material this year, sat down with us to discuss fear, nicknames, and the relief of a good cry.
NeueJournal: Your first LP, Under Water, is set for release soon. How was putting this together different than working on your past material?
Chris Kittrell: For the debut EP I did most of the production myself, and then had some help mixing it and polishing in the end. I recorded various friends and myself in multiple cities. It was an EP made while traveling you could say.
The album was produced in L.A. by Filip Nikolic, in his Los Feliz studio. Most of the songs were written and arranged before we started. It was experimental for me, because working with Filip, who is also an electronic musician, made things start to blend the organic side of me with his side. We started calling it “futuristic folk” when we were recording ‘Will I Ever See You Again?’ and that became the “model” or “mold” of what we are going for sonically.
NJ: You have a past with fashion and design. How do you feel Baby Alpaca marries both of these interests and where is fashion most evident in your music?
CK: I designed a knitwear line that has a similar look and aesthetic as the visual show. Right now I am into cloudy, painterly, under water, in the sky, rolling in the waves type things. I designed a projection visual show and color wash lighting to go along with the concert. They are pulled together most in that way. Soft, colorful, painted with acrylics and water.
If Baby Alpaca’s music were a place, where would it be?
CK: I think the video for ‘Wild Child’ sums that up well; a post-apocalyptic dream world that is both minimal and vast.
NJ: When is the last time you had a good laugh?
CK: I watched ‘Hot Shots Part Deux’ last night and laughed basically the whole time. I love slapstick comedies.
Theresa Wayman: This morning. Hmm, what was it about? That’s the kind of stuff that’s so hard to explain. I actually never went to bed last night, so I didn’t even wake up. I’ve been on like this stress work mode, but also it’s been really fun. My band is finishing an album, so we’re in crunch time. We ended up staying up all night, and this morning we were talking, chatting, and whatever. The stupidest things can make you get the giggles, you know what I mean? I don’t even remember what it was. If I did, it probably wouldn’t even sound funny at all.
NJ: When is the last time you had a good cry?
CK: When my boyfriend was traveling in Europe for fashion week. Pains of the heart are hardest for me to swallow, and I write music to make myself feel better in those times.
TW: Really recently, and I haven’t had a cry like that in a long time. It was so relieving. There’s been a lot of pressure with getting the album done, as well as everything that happens in life – so I just stopped and sobbed, the kind of sobbing where you double over and can’t stop. I was actually so happy it happened, because all the feelings I had pent up washed away and felt relieved. It made everything shift.
NJ: What is the strangest nickname you’ve ever had and where did it come from?
CK: Baby Alpaca! It was a nickname from my friends before I started going by it musically. People said I looked like a baby alpaca, and I also have a warm fuzzy attitude.
TW: One of my bandmates calls me T-boner.
NJ: Do you find more inspiration in happiness or in sadness?
CK: I’ve celebrated by in song and find inspiration in both and all the in-between. Even stasis.
NJ: What do you prefer: horror movies or comedies? Ocean or mountains? Breakfast or dinner?
CK: I love comedic horror movies like ‘Mommy Dearest,’ ‘Scary Movie,’ and ‘Freeway.’ I love the ocean, but in Big Sur you can have both! And I love going out to dinner.
NJ: What are you most afraid of?
BA: Letting down a friend.
TW: Fear itself is what I’m most afraid of, because it can be so debilitating. I think it’s just a common thing that can be felt constantly on many levels. So knowing how to deal with that is a big thing in my life…having fear and learning how to work with it.
NJ: Are you fearful or nervous getting on stage?
TW: Yeah. It’s definitely better than it used to be when I first started, but I always think, “How am I gonna open up this time? What’s gonna happen this time to make it something authentic?” Sometimes opening yourself like that could mean doing something that feels weird or wrong, so you have to be okay with that.
NJ: What does the last text message you sent say and who did you send it to?
CK: Mom: I don’t have to get surgery! (I sliced my finger open last week by dropping a jar on a marble counter and got 7 stitches).
TW: I was talking to my best friend about some personal shit. It was more overly deep shit and ‘thinking about stuff’ type of texts. I’m a complicated woman.
Photography: Chris Swainston for NeueJournal
Video: NeueHouse Media