I introduced Moollz (Molly Kirschenbaum) and Katie Mitchell of Kilo Tango at a Pipe Dreams show in Highland Park. They’ve never seen each other play live and had only seen each other once in person prior to meeting at Amoeba Music in Hollywood, where I challenged them to a musical guessing game.
I wanted to test just how intuitive Katie and Molly are as musicians, so I created one rule and six prompts. The rule? “Katie, give Molly’s stuff a listen and vice versa…but no further research on each other! Just listen,” I instructed them in our group text beforehand. As for the prompts, they’d use what they absorbed listening to each other’s music to guess…
each other’s favorites
each other’s phases
each other’s guilty pleasures
what the other tried and didn’t like
who the other is often compared to
Finally, they picked recommendations for each other.
Katie gets stuck in traffic so Moollz begins the challenge. Rilo Kiley is her first guess for one of Katie’s favorites. She quickly takes it back, remembering Rilo Kiley doesn’t share quite the same punk influences Kilo Tango does, despite the phonically similar titles. I fight bursting out with a resounding, “YES! YOU NAILED IT!” when Moollz suggests Best Coast as a potential favorite. (Katie revealed to me she worships Best Coast frontwoman Bethany Cosentino.) Moollz grabs California Nights on vinyl and presses on to the next prompt: a phase Katie went through. (She later circles back and grabs Mazzy Star’s So Tonight That I Might See, Kate Nash’s Girl Talk, and Waxahatchee’s Out in the Storm to put in the favorites category.)
Moollz thinks Katie had Nirvana and Elliott Smith phases (who hasn’t?). She grabs Nirvana’s Nevermind and the late, great, Angeleno Elliott Smith’s Figure 8.
One shouldn’t feel guilty about going through a Nirvana or Elliott Smith phase, but Taylor Swift is a different animal. Moollz chooses the 2006 groundbreaker Taylor Swift as one of Katie’s guilty pleasures. You’d never guess the Bowie, Bjork, and David Byrne-worshipping Moollz vibes with mid 2000’s country-twanged heartbreak anthems, too.
Moollz repurposes Best Coast’s California Nights to use as a sound Katie is often compared to. We wind up in the musicals section (one of Moollz’s guilty pleasures) and she grabs the My Fair Lady soundtrack to recommend to Katie. Other picks: Sigur Ross,Sleater Kinney, and the Talking Heads.
Katie arrives and I tell her she has ten minutes to crack the code on Moollz. She delves in, moving quickly through the rows of records. She declares she’s finished with just a few minutes to spare. An Amoeba employee brings us chairs and Moollz and Katie prepare to present their findings.
Katie presents Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black and The Velvet Underground and Nico’s Andy Warhol as Moollz’s potential favorites. When presented with ABBA, Moollz says, “My ABBA phase will go with me to my grave.” Another spot-on phase? Joan Jett. Katie presents a Lana del Rey record as a guilty pleasure, which Moollz admits to. Another guilty pleasure? Adele, who Katie also guesses Moollz is often compared to because of her resonant, soulful vocals. Katie recommends Allab Las and Brian Jonestown Massacre to Moollz.
Katie plucks Lana del Rey’s Lust for Life CD off the shelf and says she has to get it for her car (shh, don’t tell). Before we part, Katie and Moollz hug, exchange numerous compliments, and Katie offers up the universal musician code for ‘you seem cool’: “let’s jam!” Hopefully, we’ll see a Kilo Tango x Moollz collaboration; possibly a hybrid of outer space soul and riot grrrl spunk.