KITTY TALKS POP ROCK AND SUPERHERO MOVIES
Kitty is a Toronto based indie pop rock recording project, consisting of Mark Zuccato playing and recording original songs on his laptop.
Interview by Rebeccah Love
Can you tell me a little bit about your childhood? What kinds of creative activities did you engage with? Did you take music lessons?
I grew up taking piano lessons at a pretty young age, like a lot of kids I wasn't crazy about the amount of practise that's necessary and reading music is confusing and all that.
But I had a really great teacher and as I got older he started teaching me guitar and ACDC and Led Zeppelin riffs and the usual dad rock most kids that take guitar lessons get into at that age. Aside from music I don't think I really had too many other creative outlets growing up.
How did music play a role in your teenage years? What were you listening to? Did you have any standout music teachers?
I think music's pretty identity forming when you're a teenager, so like a lot of people it helped me find out who I am, but I was also pretty closed off to music that I didn't think fit in with my own perceived identity.
Initially I listened to a lot of the pop punk music that was on muchmusic, like Sum 41, Blink 182, Billy Talent, all that stuff was just really popular and was kind of the "alternative" option for someone growing up in the suburbs at the time. As I started getting more into guitar I definitely shifted to more of the classic rock stuff and then eventually I listened to The Beatles and that was all I wanted to listen to for a couple years.
My friends and I had a music teacher in high school, Mr. B, and I think he made a connection with a lot of us, just for more or less being a nice, caring guy in addition to being really excited and passionate about music. I also had the same guitar/piano teacher from the age 6 all through to my 20s so he had a pretty big influence on my life as well.
What route did you take after you graduated from high school? What did you study?
After high school I studied music at McMaster. My major was classical piano, but a lot of what we did wasn't necessarily performance, lots of classical music history and composition and stuff like that.
Can you tell me a little bit about your adult experiences as an indie musician? How would you describe your music? Who are your influences? Who have you collaborated with?
I'm not sure how I would describe my music, I just kind of think of it as pop rock music? I think a lot of how my music sounds is just due to the circumstances it's made under. I record it at home and I play everything so I'm limited by my abilities on different instruments and with recording techniques, the equipment or lack thereof I have and the space where I record, how loud I can be etc.
The idea of recording everything on your own is something Paul McCartney did quite a few times on solo albums, Mac Demarco has been really successful doing that in more recent years. It's kind of something people have always done but discovering some of my favourite albums have been made that way definitely makes you feel like it's something attainable, it's pretty freeing because you can do whatever you want without compromise, but if it's not good it's also all on you.
Can you describe for me the process you went through when creating your new single Superhero Movies? What themes and imagery are you drawn towards?
I started working on that song over a year ago when all these lockdowns started happening. Like a lot of people I suddenly had all this free time, so I really focused in on that song and recording at home in genereal for a bit. I think I was listening to Belle and Sebastian quite a bit and the guitar part in the chorus is pretty similar to one in a Weakerthans song, I can hear both of those aesthetics when I listen to it now.
Themes and imagery I don't put a ton of thought into, but I tend to write and enjoy music that is pretty poppy or major sounding with lyrics that are a little darker, I really like that as a songwriting tool. A couple of songs come to mind (No Surprises, Girlfriend in a Coma) that do that. It's also pretty common with all the smiley british invasion bands from the early 60s. It seems happy go lucky on the surface, but if you really listen there's some pretty heavy themes there.
What Toronto-based musicians are you following these days?
Possum, Bad Waitress, Hot Garbage, The Vypers, Pkew Pkew Pkew are a few I like.
Do you think Toronto is an artist-friendly city? How could our communities foster more inclusive and vibrant spaces for artists?
I love Toronto and I think there is a ton of creativity and great music here. The fact that it is becoming increasingly expensive to live here worries me a lot though. I think traditionally interesting art and music comes from people who are a bit disenfranchised or underdogs, but as the city gets more expensive it pushes a lot of those people out. It's kind of becoming a problem across Canada in general though, it's not just specific to Toronto, but just seems more exacerbated here. I have no idea what the solution is.
What non-musical art forms do you gravitate towards?
We watched a Netflix show on glass blowing a while back, which is insanely beautiful, so I guess my answer is glass blowing haha
What's the last album you really enjoyed?
Dinosaur Jr. - Sweep It Into Space
Why is music important?
I think just the idea of human connection and relating to others is why art in general is important. I think pop music can have a very wide reach that maybe some other art forms don't have. When 100 000 people sing the same words to a song at a concert, the words all mean something specific to each person, but really people are connecting over the inexplicable feeling they get when they hear the song and how amazing it is that that exists for humans. I think it all just circles back to what it means to be human, it's not something you can succinctly describe in words.
Music is also something that anyone can do, most of the really interesting pop music form the last century was made by people who were perceived to not have technical abilities or formal training, but their identities shaped the way they sounded and resulted in people essentially creating their own set of rules by breaking established rules, if that makes sense.
What is your favou
rite song of all time?
Thirteen by Big Star.
What are you looking forward to?
I have a couple more songs going on streaming services in addition to Superhero Movies, so I'm excited about that and just trying to continuously make music.