In the course of a decade, HARD has become one of dance music’s most globally recognized event producers. This August marks a major milestone for the brand: the 10-year anniversary of its flagship festival, HARD Summer. To celebrate the momentous occasion, Gary Richards and co. have pulled out all the stops for their LA institution with prestigious headliners such as Dog Blood, Justice, Bassnectar, and Snoop Dogg. However, the festival’s enviable lineup extends far beyond its closing slots. Delving further into the lineup, we’ve tapped some of our favorite acts on the bill for an interview series leading up to the festival.
Those unfamiliar with LA’s Kittens, may want to check their cute and cuddly expectations at the door. A tenacious tastemaker, skilled operator behind the console, and vetted Fool’s Gold affiliate, Kittens is coming up behind dance and pop’s most venerated forces as she sinks her claws into the game. Following quite literally in the footsteps of another certain selector who got his start spinning beats for Kanye West on the road some time ago, while learning the industry ropes from her mentor, Usher, Kittens is on the rise, fine-tuning a sound that’s a spirited blend of her genre-blurring inspirations. What else would one expect from A-Trak and the Prince of Pop’s collective brainchild though?
But support from some of the industry giants and the endless count of “top female DJ lists” aren’t Kittens’ highest interests. She’s out to make a name for herself as a cultural influencer, and DJing is just the vehicle that’s getting her there. Dabbling in trap, hip-hop, club and house genres, Kittens isn’t contained by one sound, making her a crafty wild card behind the decks. She’s even coined her own splinter-genre term, “LA Club” alongside Hoodboi, Falcons, and Promenite as a member of the Athletixx collective.
Since Kittens’ emergence in 2013, she’s proven to be a captivating, vivacious talent who’s steady upward trajectory has been entertaining to watch, and hear, although it’s still very clearly just the beginning for this burgeoning soon-to-be jet setter. With a number of high profile bookings under her belt, including Fool’s Gold’s Day Off series, Coachella’s Heineken House, and HARD’s Holy Ship and Day of the Dead, Kittens is no stranger to the booming LA dance circuit, though this summer, she’s taking on LA’s biggest dance event of the year for one of the biggest outings of her career.
Read our interview with Kittens below.
What has been the biggest breakthrough of your career?
DJ’ing for Kid Cudi. I was going to college at the time and working a marketing job at a nightclub (where sometimes I was able to DJ). I happened to be playing the right stuff at the right time apparently, because one thing led to another and next thing I knew — I was touring with Kid Cudi. I went from playing small local parties to full on stadiums and festivals plus, was able to meet some incredible people who have been huge supporters throughout my career. That was really one of those “meant to be” fate-type of moments in my life.
What are you looking forward to most about HARD Summer?
I’m really excited to be playing alongside so many artists I really love and look up to. HARD Summer has always been a big deal for me because I started attending many years ago and Gary just always gets really cool people booked who you don’t get to see too often.
What is different about your experience performing at festivals now as opposed to the beginning of your career?
Definitely playing at better times has been a huge difference. It’s nice playing to a crowd that already had a minute to get settled in and warmed up for the day but more than that, I think just being much more comfortable with myself has made a huge difference. I was always so nervous to the point where I couldn’t just really let go while I played. I was more focused on not messing anything up, lol. Now it’s just really fun and exciting.
If you could be another artist for a day, who would you pick?
Diplo probably. He really gets to do it all from the traveling to crazy places, to working with the best artists…playing and attending really dope events in general. His life seems pretty fire.
If you could recommend three artists to catch from the lineup, who would you pick?
Uniiqu3 (she’s got the most amazing energy and is just such a goddess), Skepta (you don’t wanna miss out on the heaviest UK turn up vibe of the century), & Mike WiLL Made-It (we all know he’s gonna be bringing out all your favorite rappers for this one).
If you were recruited to provide an Essential Mix in 2017, what’s the one song you couldn’t leave out?
Anything by Future lol. I’ve been the biggest Stan for Future since his first mixtapes and my love for him just grows. It’s become an obnoxious joke amongst my friends at this point.
Prepare for Kittens’ HARD Summer set with her HARD Day of the Dead 2015 mixtape:
Information and tickets for HARD Summer are available here.