By: Shayla Lee
I remember the day I heard Rainbow Kitten Surprise’s music for the first time so vividly. It was a regular Monday in 2015 and as usual, I was looking forward to listening to my Discover Weekly playlist on Spotify. As I was near the end of the playlist, a song immediately grabbed my attention. I abandoned my work and clicked on Spotify which was when I saw a song named ‘Devil Like Me’ and the artist’s unique name: Rainbow Kitten Surprise.
Ever since that day, I have been obsessed with Rainbow Kitten Surprise. Although the band began building their fanbase through streaming services like Spotify and Soundcloud, they really started gaining traction during the festival circuit of 2017, playing festivals like Austin City Limits, LouFest, and Firefly to critical acclaim.
From their beautiful lyrics and catchy beats to the electric energy they have during their live performances, I love everything about this band. Their passion for what they do shines through everything aspect of their music. Being able to watch them grow, especially over the past year, makes me feel like a proud mom.
I had the amazing opportunity to interview lead vocalist Sam Melo and he brought us into the creative process of their highly anticipated third album ‘How to: Friend, Love, Freefall,’ and shared what fans can expect from their upcoming tour.
FEMME RIOT: Congratulations on the release of ‘How to: Friend, Love, Freefall!’ Like many of your other fans, I have been patiently waiting for this album for 3 years and the wait has definitely paid off. How would you explain this album to your fans? What was the creation process of this album like?
Sam Melo: It started as a concept album. This album was an attempt at creating a cohesive piece as opposed to a collection of songs. Originally, the concept was fairly abstract: a person engaged in newfound romance discovering the trials of romantic ties and the joys of reconciliation. But all the while, it was fairly playful – as new love tends to be. A cat and mouse scenario. Pulling it together proved to be the most elusive part. A bad case of writer’s block coupled with waning enthusiasm from the band collectively contributed to the feeling that we had lost our sense of direction.
The album stalling turned out to be what was needed because it allowed it to absorb our growth as a band and as people to make the most honest representation we’ve put out so far. It became the story of how lovers-change friends-change-life. A story of the dynamic relationships of 5 people bound together as we have been and all the others who have chimed in to make that tie meaningful, melodic. It was a experience that changed my perception of human interaction positively and forever. We also made music sometimes.
Everything about ‘Hide’ is beautiful to me. From the powerful music video that made me cry and then laugh (“Boy, your titty hard”) to the actual track itself, ‘Hide’ is truly special and I think it will help so many people accept themselves and others. You explained on Instagram that the video is a celebration of reconciling who and what you love with the people you love. When putting out such a personal song like this one, does it ever feel nerve-wracking? Can you tell us more about the music video?
That song was nerve racking until the day I showed it to my mother and I haven’t thought twice about it since.
All I know is I said the words “drag queens” to director Kyle Thrash and 3 months later our name was associated with a piece of art.
All credit to him, his crew, and the Queens.
Another one of my favorites is ‘It’s Called: Freefall.’ I love the lyrics of this one, particularly “Thought to give friends what I thought they wanted / Never had they needed a good friend as I’ve been.” Can you tell us more about this track?
A sort of personal rock bottom for me, I felt as though I had misjudged my ability to contribute positively to the wellbeing of my friends. I gave up. In folk tales, the Devil’s roll is often a form of wish fulfillment with a mischievous twist. I mused that perhaps the Devil wasn’t a malicious gifter , but rather the recipients were clueless as to what they really wanted or his fulfillment isn’t exact. Either way, the Devil won’t ever receive sympathy for the miscalculation.
What other option is there but to be callous?
Over the last few years, it has been an absolute joy to watch you grow as musicians and receive the recognition you deserve. You have truly built your careers from the ground up and I feel like a proud mom every time I see your music on a playlist or see you on a festival lineup. As a band, did you experience any hardships in the early years? Was there ever a time when you considered throwing in the towel? If so, what made you keep going?
We’ve all had moments of doubt in the enterprise. But fortunately we’ve held each other accountable and supported each other through the worst of times.
2 things kept us on the straight and narrow:
2018 is a huge year for you! A new album, music festivals, a North American tour with many sold out dates… you guys are killing it! Have you experienced a “wow” moment in your career when you realized that all of your hard work was paying off? What is the ultimate dream for you?
This is the dream. The dream is that it will continue.
You are kicking off The Friend, Love, Freefall tour across North America! I have my Vancouver ticket on my fridge! What can fans expect from this tour?
Fans can expect us to continue to grow our musicality, tighten our performance, appreciate them for their support. And dancing.
I want to thank Sam for taking time out of his busy touring life to answer these questions. Aside from doing Lollapalooza, Osheaga, and Outside Lands this festival season, the band is currently on a North American tour. If they’re coming to a city near you, you can buy tickets here. Prepare to fall in love with a band with the most unique name you’ve ever heard and listen to their album ‘How to: Friend, Love, Freefall’ below. This is what music is about.