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Center Stage: ASU student band works to reclaim the word 'slut'

ASU student band Space Sluts discuss their inspiration and process in creating their new EP

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"The performance and visual arts podcast that steals the spotlight." Illustration published on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021.

State Press Reporter Peter Vezeau sits down with Kaitlyn Kief and Derek Scott of the band Space Sluts to discuss their sound and latest EP, "Ombre."


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PETER VEZEAU: 

My name is Peter Vezeau and welcome to State Press Center Stage. The podcast where we highlight performing artists and creative minds here at Arizona State University. Joining me today is Kaitlyn Kief and Derek Scott, two students who met by chance that have formed a band to create new and innovative music, all while reclaiming hurtful words that would become their namesake.

This is Space Sluts.

KAITLYN KIEF

Hi, I'm Kaitlyn Kief. I'm a third year theater major at ASU. I am the lead vocalist for Space Sluts, and I help with the melodies and everything else too. 

DEREK SCOTT:

Hi, I'm Derek. I'm a fourth year at ASU. That's weird to say. I'm a film major and then I play guitar and most of the instruments in Space Sluts. I'm the instrument guy, and Kaitlyn's a singer, that's the synopsis.

PETER VEZEAU: 

Thank you guys so much for being here. We're recording this after you guys did a great performance of three of your songs, some of them from your new EP, "Ombre", which you released over the summer. First off before we talk about that, let's talk about what led to you guys forming Space Sluts to begin with.

KAITLYN KIEF: 

I think what led to forming Space Sluts was Derek lived on the same floor in the Arcadia dorms, but it was a slightly different building. But he didn't really have a lot of friends. So he always used to come to my building and hang out with people because we were the much better, cooler building. And then, one day, he kind of roped me into his dorm room and we started playing guitar.

And we came up with a couple of songs, but then we realized like, "Hey, I think we like to work with each other. I think that's cool."

DEREK SCOTT:

Yeah, I mean, that's pretty much the nail on the head. I was just a loser and I found Kaitlyn and we just started writing and just — I think I kind of like convinced her that we should be a band. I think she was just like, "I'm just singing songs." I was like, "we're a band now." 

KAITLYN KIEF: 

Yeah. Yeah. I was kinda just pulled. Like yanked into a music project with him because he was like, "Hey, we should totally start a band." And I was like, "Um, yeah. OK, sure. That sounds good." And he was like, "OK, so when are we doing this, and when are we doing that?" And I was like, OK. So I really did get myself into this. Huh? Wow. I really did. 

DEREK SCOTT: 

My master plan. 

PETER VEZEAU: 

So this sounds like it was like very impulsive. Like almost like you guys didn't know each other before then, and you just start jamming out together. And it all clicked?

KAITLYN KIEF: 

Yup.

DEREK SCOTT:

Yeah.


KAITLYN KIEF:

I mean, I think we honestly work off of each other creatively really well. Because I'm not really tech savvy and I don't know how to use all the fancy music programs or anything like that.

The only instruments I really know are like violin and a little bit of piano, but Derek can play guitar. He can play bass. He's good at drums. He's good at piano. He's good at like almost everything and it's really, really impressive, so. 

DEREK SCOTT:

Oh my gosh. Thank you. Kaitlyn is good at singing and comes up with a lot of good melodies and is far better than me at it.

PETER VEZEAU: 

So, let's talk about the band's name. First of all, it is a very, very intriguing name, Space Sluts. Is there any particular reason why you guys chose that name? 

DEREK SCOTT:

I like to think there's like a deeper meaning post-hence, like post-naming it. But like initially it was just like "Space Sluts. Haha. Funny."

KAITLYN KIEF: 

Yeah. I was like, "OK. Let's think about things that we like." And I was like, "Space!" And Derek was like, "Sluts."

DEREK SCOTT: 

Hold on. Hold on. I hope there's context for that. 

KAITLYN KIEF: 

I don't know if there should be. I don't know, at a certain point now it's like, yeah, it's a funny name. Haha. Space Sluts. But also, like, whenever I tell people that I'm in a band called Space Sluts, the first thing they do is laugh and they're like, "Oh, that's a fun name." And it's like, yeah. Honestly, like, I don't think our name really matters, but just the way that it makes people feel.

And plus it's like using a word like sluts so commonly kind of helps to take away a lot of like the bad implications behind the word and kind of reforms it into a word that's like fun, you know? 

DEREK SCOTT: 

And so it's already been worked on, reclaiming, for a while. I think it's just, it's another thing just to add onto the pile of ways that we can make that language more fun and friendly and just have fun with it.

PETER VEZEAU: 

Yeah, definitely. And I remember hearing it for the first time and I honestly thought that, you know, "OK, you're going to tell me the real name." And then it just kind of stuck in my brain just because of how shocking it was. And next thing you know, I'm listening to your guys' music in my car.

Well, while we're talking about music, what about some inspirations that you guys had? Is there any particular artists or musicians, or even a certain kind of style that you try to emulate or work into your music?

DEREK SCOTT:

I know like the general vibe. I know when we started, we were both very into like our indie college phase sort of, or at least me and it was a lot of what I listened to. I listened to a lot of SALES. So like, a lot of that lo-fi, bedroom pop kind of aesthetic was really what informed it at the start. At least for me, production wise. Lately, I've been trying to get in some more. Like bring us more into like electronic weirder territory, but I don't know if that's inspired by anyone in particular. Maybe I've been listening to too much 100 gecs, or something, but...

KAITLYN KIEF:

I don't think anybody in particular, I mean at least not to my knowledge, influenced me. I mean, of course everything is influenced by everything else. That's just how art is. But at least for the melodies and everything, I just try to make something that'll sound interesting. But, more than interesting, I want something that's fun to sing. Whether or not it be for just me or like if somebody's singing along, like, I love songs that have like crazy melodies that are just like, "oh, whoa." Just constantly.

DEREK SCOTT: 

I know I catch — like, I know it may not be intentional, but I feel like I catch a lot of like Sammy Rae just in the way you riff and stuff. 

KAITLYN KIEF: 

Yeah. Sammy Rae and The Friends is probably a pretty big one for me. Like she is that kind of singer to have just the most fun to listen to melodies on the planet. And I want to make something that's unique. I know that's how anything and anybody is, but I don't know. 

PETER VEZEAU: 

So you said that a lot of it just comes down to songs that you personally enjoy and thinking of these melodies and these lyrics that you want to sing. Is there anything else that comes after that process? Is that pretty early on? Or maybe do you guys start out with a riff or a drum beat?

KAITLYN KIEF: 

We usually start off by Derek making some kind of really cool instrumental track, just because I think that's really where he shines the most. And then he's like, "Hey Kaitlyn, listen to this." And I'm like, "OK." That's it. 

DEREK SCOTT: 

It's a pretty collaborative process once we get going. But in like the first half of it, I'd say it's like, I make like, I don't know, six beats in the night or something. And then, the next day, I show Kaitlyn a few and she's like, "Hey, I like this." Or "Hey, this is garbage." And then once we have that, we kind of settle on it, then we start the collaborative process. I usually just make a drum and bass kind of loop or get like one sample or something and then we just go from there.

Depending on what Kaitlyn — I'm just, I'm just trying to please Kaitlyn most of the time. So it's like, all Space Sluts songs are just songs that Kaitlyn liked the start of. So, I'm just like, "Here, this is for, this is for Kaitlyn now."

I'm the slut here. I'm desperate for Kaitlyn's approval.

KAITLYN KIEF: 

And I'm the space. 

PETER VEZEAU: 

Recently you released your EP, "Ombre", in 2021, the summer of 2021.

KAITLYN KIEF: 

We released it May 3 of 2021, I believe. 

PETER VEZEAU: 

And have you guys found yourself being more creative in the pandemic? Because it seems like we're seeing a lot of artists put out music at an incredibly fast rate and a lot of people just performing and creating more during the pandemic. Do you think that has influenced you guys at all? Or is this just kind of a pace that you're comfortable with and it all felt very natural?

DEREK SCOTT: 

For me personally, with the pandemic and such, I feel like it hasn't affected like my artistic output in the sense, like I'm still kind of making stuff. I actually think I've made less stuff during the pandemic, just because there wasn't as much inspiration.

But I think, for me at least, personally, allowing me to really hone in on more of the technical side of my abilities and such and try to fashion all this stuff I made to actually better things rather than just make a bunch of it. To me, as far as like artistic output goes, I think, I mean, we made three songs in a year, which is like two years before we did like 10 or something. I mean we didn't put out 10, but we had them written and we were writing all the time. If we could find the motivation to write, like once a month, we'd be happy. 

KAITLYN KIEF:

Yeah. Recently, it's been weird, not only because of the pandemic and everything. But also like, Derek and I are roommates now. We have time to work together and we make jam sessions and everything. But it's a lot harder when it's somebody that you're living with to sit down and do something like that everyday or every other day.

Whereas, like before, you know, we'd make the time every week or do this, that, and the other thing. And it's not like we're still not working on stuff. Like, I really think that, like Derek was saying, certain skills have been worked on. Like, I really think that we've started to find the direction that we really want Space Sluts to go in, especially with our "Ombre" album. Because "Mirage" and "Entropy," in particular, really helped us go into a new direction with our music. Because some of our older stuff was very like simplistic. Like, "Oh, it's cutesy, we're playing ukulele, yada, yada." But we really started experimenting with some, I guess, different elements. Like one thing that didn't get to happen, to "Mirage," but was one of our favorite things during the process, was it had like a feedback loop that would go throughout the entire song, starting from the beginning. And unfortunately that just didn't get to see the light of day. I still really liked —

DEREK SCOTT:

It still pops up in like little hidden parts in the mix. 

KAITLYN KIEF: 

Oh, really?

DEREK SCOTT: 

Yeah, it's still — it doesn't happen at the start, but, if you're listening for it, you can hear it fade in the end of the guitar parts.

KAITLYN KIEF: 

Yeah. But like, for example, just finding some weird thing like that and kind of like being like, "Woo! Look at this weird thing!" Like, I think we really started to get into our shoes or something during the pandemic for that.

DEREK SCOTT: 

"Entropy," I think, was really just the start of the whole idea of like the sound for "Ombre" and so. Cause I made that, like literally, start of the pandemic. Depression's sinking in. And "Entropy" was the first thing I made it. It was just initially just that a sample of the drum loop and the synth thing.

And then I know I did the bass part and I had written this song on top of it and I showed it to you and you were like, "Eh." And then we rewrote it and I thought it just really worked. I think that was the start of our trying to streamline the artistic process rather than do more.

PETER VEZEAU: 

Yeah, definitely. I was listening to "Ombre" first out of all your songs. And then I went back and then realize that you guys did make quite a drastic change, like adding in a lot of synth music. But it seems like you guys are very proud of that. And it seems like you guys are more comfortable with that. And that's something that I just really enjoy seeing in artists is being able to, not necessarily evolve or adapt, but just kind of be honest to yourselves and say like, "Yes, we like what we did in the past, but now we're going to try something new and also enjoy it." And I think that was really put on display through your music. 

Circling back, Derek, you mentioned something about writing about 10 songs, but only releasing around three. Is there any reason why some of these songs might still end up on the cutting room floor? Do you think they'll ever be revisited or released or are some of them just put out to pasture.

DEREK SCOTT: 

I don't know, I like a lot of the stuff we wrote. Some of them are literally just like we started recording it and then just, it didn't feel right. Or we wrote it and we thought this is kind of dumb, but maybe we could play it at like little things or something. But it's not terribly deep. It's literally just for me, it's just like, if something works or not when we record it, nothing particularly like, "Man, we just self-loathe these few songs that we've written."

I just know a lot of our early stuff was just like us joking around and just having little fun. Like, we little like Western songs and just made little stories and such. I feel like now our writing style has shifted to a much more like stream of consciousness. Sort of like, not ethereal, because that sounds kind of pretentious, but like just a more out there kind of song writing structure rather than just like, "Here's a cute thing we're singing about." 

PETER VEZEAU: 

Yeah. I noticed that in the songs, there was definitely like this weird yet cool Western vibe to it. Like it almost felt like I was watching a Clint Eastwood movie taking place in like the cyberpunk '80s.

And for some reason, that combination just really, really worked with the vocals and the music itself. And so congrats to you guys for being able to weave all that together. 

KAITLYN KIEF:

I appreciate that. Thank you.

DEREK SCOTT: 

I wouldn't even say like the Western influence was like particularly intentional. I think we've just been getting into more Western stylings lately.

KAITLYN KIEF: 

Yeah. And my favorite band just put out a new album that is like a way more country album. And it was just kind of like, "Huh, cool." 

PETER VEZEAU: 

So is there anything that's currently in the work in Space Sluts? Is there anything that you guys are working on right now or are you more so just trying to feel out how this EP goes and go from there and just kind of strike when it feels right.

DEREK SCOTT:

A bit more on the feeling-out side. I'd say there's one that we're still kind of in the mixing process. We just haven't touched it in a second. The Tom Cruise one.

KAITLYN KIEF: 

Oh, the Tom Cruise one! 

DEREK SCOTT: 

We started, we're like, we're halfway through like this, EDM-Hippo Campus-Glass Animals, we said it sorta sounded like that.

So we've been working on even more. Going more into the electronic realms, but I think we just been taking it slowly lately. Seeing how this works out. 

KAITLYN KIEF: 

Yeah. Taking it slow. I really think that we got a lot of really good positive reactions from our last EP. Honestly, it really made me feel a lot more confident in my music, even if it is like, you know, 20 people messaged me and were like, "Hey, I loved it." But that's still 20 whole people, you know.

DEREK SCOTT: 

That's 20 ego points right there.

KAITLYN KIEF: 

Yeah! And, you know, working on stuff. Like, we try. Sometimes life gets hard though. Like I work, I have school, you know, everyone gets it. 

PETER VEZEAU: 

Well, still, congrats to you guys for being able to find the time to do all this and make, in my opinion, a really great EP, a really great sound to your music. 

What is a certain kind of feeling or vibe that you want your audiences to get away, or what is something that you think captivates your audiences to where they first listened to a Space Sluts song and what's the thing that hooks them in? 

KAITLYN KIEF: 

I hope it's our chill vibes. Like I hope we give off some chill, like, "Hey, this is kind of nice to listen to." But in like a nice fuzzy kind of way, I guess. Especially like our song "Pisces Moon." Whenever people listen to that, I want them to just be like, "Aww. How cute." And that's it. That's what I want. 

DEREK SCOTT: 

For me, at least, with the lot of the art, I'm making a lot of stuff. I'm trying to design at least sonically for Space Sluts. I want to be like a sense of comfort wrapped in like another layer of mystery. Like I want people to feel lost, but like, "It's OK that I'm lost." Like, "Entropy" is kind of like, "Man, everything's chaos and everything's weird." But it's like, "Yo. That's kind of a dope baseline." 

KAITLYN KIEF: 

Yeah. Derek said it way better than I said it.

DEREK SCOTT: 

No, but I like — I like a lot of the just like cute vibe too. Like that's like the comfort. Like the cuteness of your vocal tone over these weird, like discordant synths and weird lo-fi stylings.

And then it's just your voice is very warm. So, it kinda just floats on top of this weirdness and it's just a through line of your voice and such. I'm not even trying to gas you up. I'm just talking about the song.

KAITLYN KIEF: 

I don't know. I think you're trying to gas me up, man.

DEREK SCOTT:

I'm just talking about the sonic layering on it.

KAITLYN KIEF: 

Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Sonic layering of my heart. 

DEREK SCOTT:

Aww. This is just us, you know.

KAITLYN KIEF: 

Yeah, we're just so quirky. That's the real reason we named it Space Sluts, just because we're so quirky.

DEREK SCOTT: 

Oh my God.

PETER VEZEAU: 

Oh man. Well, thank you guys so much for being here. It has been absolutely amazing to hear from you guys. We got to hear your guys play right before recording, and we're going to try to make sure that we can release that so everyone else can see your creative minds and talents. OK. That's what we try to do here at Center Stage. Any last things before we go?

KAITLYN KIEF: 

People listening to this part. Thanks for listening. Pretty cool of you. 

DEREK SCOTT: 

Follow us on socials.

KAITLYN KIEF: 

Oh, right.

DEREK SCOTT: 

Space Sluts. 

KAITLYN KIEF: 

We have some weird socials.

DEREK SCOTT: 

Weird socials.

KAITLYN KIEF: 

Instagram is @sluts_in_space. Our Twitter is @space_sluts. Because I couldn't get the rights to the Instagram one.

DEREK SCOTT: 

Moral of the story: we are bad at branding. And then on Spotify, which is Space Sluts. And then every other music platform. 

PETER VEZEAU: 

Thank you guys again for joining us. Really appreciate having you on.

DEREK SCOTT

Thank you.

KAITLYN KIEF

Thank you.

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PETER VEZEAU: 

My thanks again to Kaitlyn Kief and Derek Scott. Be sure to check out their new EP, "Ombre," wherever you get your music from. You can also check out their first-ever filmed performance, record in our very own studio, at statepress.com. Thank you so much for listening and, for the State Press, I'm Peter Vezeau.


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