“She calls me up on Friday night / she says her boyfriend said goodbye / she needs to drink and get real high / we get wild,” rang through my Chevy. Spotify’s Discover Weekly brought “Bestie” by an artist I’d never heard of, Sizzy Rocket, to me at the end of my senior year of high school. Come the end of the first chorus, I think I was laughing at the tongue-in-cheek humor of, “I wanna fuck, fuck, fuck my best friend.”
Sizzy’s debut record, THRILLS, was fresh out of the studio. I gave it a listen and determined it’s one of my favorite records of all time. I came to understand that, yes, “Bestie” is chock-full of tongue-in-cheek, fantastical femme sexual imagery, but it’s rooted in truth, as is the whole of THRILLS. Sizzy Rocket is an accomplished songwriter, musician, and singer; her work is a blend of raw honesty, blurred nostalgia, and glitter bombs.
I met Katie Mitchellof Kilo Tango in June ’17 at her show at the Satellite in Silver Lake. She describes Kilo Tango’s style as ‘surf garage 60s rock.’ Her EP, Boy Problems, is the bubblegum punk answer to residual teenage heartbreak. A Florida transplant now living in Echo Park, Katie’s music is the optimal soundtrack for a beach day on the Atlantic or Pacific coast or gossiping and painting your nails with your best friends.
It’s in Sizzy and Katie’s catalogues I find the big sisters I never had. I reveled and found solace in Sizzy’sTHRILLS as I swelled with and sorted through the dense, hurricane-esque emotions of ending high school and beginning college. Listening to Katie’s EP is like sneaking Marlboro Lights with a cool older sister as we drive around Los Angeles blasting Hole and talking about boys.
I met Sizzy Rocket at Stories in Echo Park in early August. Katie walked in (she lives close by so I texted her to say she should come run into me and Sizzy) and Sizzy recognized her instantly from our Jukebox Vol. 20, on which I featured Sizzy’s “Girls to the Front” and Katie’s “Don’t Bring Me Roses”. Compliments fluttered between the two and my heart was instantly set on getting them together again.
I had a hunch these two just get each other. Maybe not immediately at first, but I figure there’s bound to be gel-like effects between the two, so I took Katie and Sizzy Record Rushing to test my theory.
RECORD RUSH BRAINSTORMING AT GROUNDWORK COFFEE
I pick up Sizzy and Katie on August 29 for Record Rush. I play a few of their tracks and give them notebooks to brainstorm in while we drive to Hollywood as last ditch efforts to study each other’s music before I ask them to jot down guesses for each other’s favorites, guilty pleasures, phases, and comparisons. We caffeinate at Groundwork Coffee across the street from Amoeba and Sizzy and Katieplan what music they’ll grab to represent each category I’ve asked them to fill.
The only rule: Use each other’s music and music videos to guess each other’s favorites, guilty pleasures and phases. Then, compare the other’s music to another artist and give a few recommendations. DON’T (to the best of your ability) use social media.
Sizzy compares Katie to: surf rock, Beach House, Girlpool
favorites: The White Stripes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Bright Eyes
guilty pleasures: trap, Lil Pump, Future, Cardi B
phases: emo, My Chemical Romance, pop, Aaron Carter, Backstreet Boys, *N Sync
comparisons: strong women, Joan Jett, Halsey
Sizzy’s recommendations for Katie: Cherry Glazerr, Lucy Dacus, Hinds
AMOEBA MUSIC IN HOLLYWOOD: RECORD RUSHING AND THE REVEAL
After Sizzy and Katie gather their thoughts (and load up on caffeine) we cross the street and meet our photographer, Lisa. Katie and Sizzy scatter into the stacks and Lisa and I grab as many photos as we can. There are no winners, but Katie finishes first. We sequester ourselves amongst pop CDs and begin the reveal.
// GUESSING FAVORITES:
KATIE TO SIZZY
Sizzy Rocket is not your average pop star. Yes, she loves glitter and had pink hair, but she can more often than not be seen in an oversized Ramones tee. She’s a modern-day, femme Sid Vicious with glitter-adorned eyelids and cherry-red lips (Nancy included). She leads the charge for the “royalty of the punks and the let downs.”
Katie: “Britney Spears, Garbage, and Blondie as favorites.”
Sizzy: “Yeah. I would say Blondie, definitely; one hundred percent accurate. Shirley Manson: yes, obviously. I feel like I’m guilty of not listening to a lot of Garbage but, obviously, [Shirley Manson is] the icon for rock women.”
SIZZY TO KATIE
The night I met Katie she revealed to me Bethany Cosentino [of Best Coast]’smusic helped push her towards creating and fronting Kilo Tango. Sizzy doesn’t mention Best Coast as a favorite or comparison, but she latches onto something by writing “surf rock” in her notebook.
Sizzy: “For your favorites, I did Hole.”
Sizzy: “I feel like if you’re an indie rock woman, you have to listen to Hole.”
Katie agrees to that as well.
Sizzy: “And then Bikini Kill. But maybe that was just me, like, projecting onto you. I don’t know.”
Sizzy is a massive Kathleen Hanna fan; the track “Girls to the Front” off her mixtape Hot Summer is her tip of the hat to the Bikini Kill frontwoman.
Katie: “I haven’t listened to them that much but they’re definitely an inspiration.”
Sizzy: “And then The Strokes.”
In Katie’s notebook she noted going through a Strokes phase, so Sizzy‘s not wrong. But, Sizzy has something to get something off her chest.
Sizzy: “Because I cheated and The Strokes came on in Groundwork and I was like, ‘Oh, my god, that’s a good one!’ And [Katie] was like, ‘I love The Strokes!’ ”
Katie: “I really do. That’s actually my favorite album [Is This It], too.“
// GUESSING GUILTY PLEASURES:
KATIE TO SIZZY
Katie:“I got Christina Aguilera.”
Sizzy admits to performing Christina’s “Come on Over” in a mall at the precocious age of eight, so Katie’s not far off. Katie takes a stab with ABBA or Ace of Base. Sizzy can’t get behind it.
SIZZY TO KATIE
Sizzy:“I got some Fergie and some Lana [del Rey].”
The last time I was at Amoeba with Katie she grabbed Lana’s newest record, Lust for Life.
Katie: “She is my guilty pleasure; I wrote her down.”
Personally, I never had a Lana phase; maybe I just missed the boat. But everyone and their mother seemed to go through one.
Sizzy: “I feel like she’s everyone’s guilty pleasure.”
// GUESSING PHASES:
KATIE TO SIZZY
Katie: “I got a Ramones [album]. I feel like, that’s just everyone’s…”
Sizzy: “This [The Dutchess by Fergie] kind of represents, like, a bubblegum pop phase.”
Katie confirms. There’s never a bad time for a bubblegum pop phase. If you’re going to go through one, I recommend testing the waters with Fergie’sThe Dutchess, Britney Spears’ In the Zone, and Spice Girls’Spice.
KATIE TO SIZZY
Sizzy’s cult members are often also fans of Halsey, Charli XCX, etc.; women with big voices and big ideas who garner audiences of mostly young girls traipsing through the unfamiliar territory of sexuality, friendship, and determining their place.
Katie: “I was trying to find Charli XCX and I couldn’t find it.”
When Katie presents a Joan Jett record, Sizzy is elated (who wouldn’t be?).
Sizzy: “Yay! Really?”
Sizzy’s descriptors and comparisons often include ‘strong women,’ (like the aforementioned Halsey, Joan Jett, and Charli XCX) which she jotted down during brainstorming.
SIZZY TO KATIE
Sizzy: “Angel Olsen.”
Katie: “Love her so much. That’s such a compliment.”
Both praise Olsen’s record No Woman. Sizzy throws Feist and Girlpool into the ring of comparisons. She specifies, though, Katie’s catalogue isn’t reminiscent of past Feist; Sizzy sees more connections between Katie’s music and Feist’s most recent record, Pleasure.
Sizzy: “Especially ‘Any Party’ [by Feist].”
Its surf “rock-y qualities,” Sizzy explains, are akin to Kilo Tango’s sound. Sizzy presents Girlpool as a comparison because of the band’s “washy”, “punk”, and “lo-fi” qualities. Plus, she explains, “The songwriting is good.”
Katie:“Yeah, I love Girlpool.”
KATIE TO SIZZY
Katie is a Dum Dum Girls fan and recommends DDG’s frontwoman’s solo record [X-Communicate] to Sizzy.
Katie: “Do you know Kristin Kontrol?”
She explains Kontrol’s solo work is “pop”, “synth-y” and reminiscent of “80s dance” sounds.
Sizzy: “I love this cover.”
Katie circles pack to punk, giving Sizzy a tip to keep The Coathangers on her radar.
Katie:“They’re this three piece – they’re all girls – from Atlanta and they’ve been a band for, like, ten/twelve years and they’re freaking amazing.”
SIZZY TO KATIE
Sizzy recommends Cigarettes After Sex (who Katie loves) and Jim James, who she describes as “psychedelic.”
Sizzy: “This [Jim James] record [Eternally Even] especially is so good,”
Sizzy recommends she and Katie chill and pair Eternally Even’s psychedelic sounds with psychedelic smoke.
Katie: “Yeah, I’m down. Anytime.”
// BREAK UP MUSIC
Both Sizzy and Katie know the ropes when it comes to crafting either a couldn’t-care-less “fuck you” (see: Katie’s “Don’t Bring Me Roses) or a gut-wrenching, brutally beautiful break up ballad (see: Sizzy’s “Milk”). So, I have to ask what records got these two heartbreak heroes through breakups.
Guilty as charged: Lana del Rey.
Katie: “I’d probably pick Lana, too, honestly…like, Honeymoon, or something.”
Sizzy:“[Ultraviolence] is already in my cart.” “This record got me through a horrible, horrible breakup in 2014. Like, I had to move out; that kind of breakup.”
Katie runs off and comes back with The Sounds of The Smiths, a sadgirl/boy staple for mending hearts but, first, tearing them open and letting it all out. I recommend Sizzy’s “Break Up Song” and Katie’s “Don’t Bring Me Roses”.
Sizzy buys some artwork then has to dash. We all hug and Sizzy heads off. Katie and I hang back and snag copies of Liz Phair’sWhip-Smart for $1.99 a pop.
Sizzy may operate mainly with soulful spunk and Katie may be more familiar with reverb-y rock, but the two found common ground in the quintessential twenty-something love of Lana del Rey and a riot grrrl appreciation. If the two enjoy a joint over that Jim James record, my work here is officially done.