Los Angeles-based quartet Kill My Coquette – Natalie Denise Sperl (vocals / guitar), Dave Stucken (lead guitar), Mike Evans (bass), Kelly Hagerman (drums) – is set to release their self-titled debut EP on January 20, 2015. Armed with attitude and boasting vital rock & punk with a twist of designer blues, Kill My Coquette is influenced by game-changing artists like Jack White, Lou Reed, Joan Jett and the New York Dolls, but they have a sound all their own. Written and arranged by Natalie, Kill My Coquette recorded the 5-song EP at Evelyn Martin Recordings in Los Angeles with Danny McGough (Tom Waits, Social Distortion, Shivaree) producing.
The EP’s first single, “3rd & Bonnie Brae” is driven by Natalie’s sexy snarl and energetic guitar, vividly depicting the darker side of Los Angeles. “Festival Boy” is full of gritty melodies celebrating the bold, dreamy feelings of meeting someone special at a festival and the excitement of seeing where the new relationship goes. “Sweet Baby Blooze” offers a sultry distortion-drenched, aggressive blues stomp, and Natalie’s breathy delivery on “Close To Me” paints a lushly passionate soundscape. “Post Teenage Angst” closes out the record with a heavy dose of punk swagger and a resounding anthemic chant that grabs you by the neck and doesn’t let go.
Having already made a name for herself in the acting and modeling worlds, it’s with Kill My Coquette that Natalie has truly found her calling. Despite starring alongside Jackie Chan in ‘Around the World in 80 Days,’ playing the titular character in the cult horror flick ‘Succubus Hell Bent, appearing on hit TV shows like ‘Two and a Half Men,’ ‘How I Met Your Mother,’ and ‘CSI: Miami’ and gracing the cover of Esquire, it’s Kill My Coquette thgives the world its first unfiltered and unbridled glimpse at the real Natalie Denise Sperl.
Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Natalie Denise Sperl to discuss her love of music, the formation of her band, Kill My Coquette, the challenges of bringing their debut EP to life and what we can expect from this powerhouse in the months to come.
You have had a successful career as a model and actress. How did you get started on your journey in the entertainment industry?
Originally, I am from a very small town in Minnesota where there is not a lot to do. To keep from dying of boredom, I would dress up, play with dolls, write my own stories, put on plays and whatnot. I was into LA and all the usual girly things and I have always loved to perform. I did a lot of local theater, as well. I was about two hours from Minneapolis. One weekend we were there and I literally bumped into a photographer that was coming out of an agency. He said, “Oh, you should be a model!” I was like, “I don’t know?” However, one thing led to another and I signed with that agency when I was about 15. We started to go to Minneapolis for auditions and stuff like that. I got into acting through modeling. I worked locally in Minneapolis for a lot of the big companies there like Aveda and Target but I knew I wanted to get out of there and pursue something bigger. I ended up moving to London. I got an agent and started working doing runway. I got a couple of magazine covers over there, which led me to Paris and I just kept working with the fashion industry. It was great! It was a lot of fun and filled with shenanigans!
When it comes to music, was there a moment you experienced in your youth that had a big impact on the artist we see today?
Yeah, actually there is. [laughs] I joke about this with my parents all the time! My first concert was Bob Dylan with my parents. I think I was seven and, of course, I didn’t want to go. My brother and I were dragged along. I remember it being so packed that people were literally sitting on top of the porta-potties to watch Dylan. I just thought it was so bizarre! [laughs] I used to give my dad crap all of the time, singing “How does it feeeeeeeel …” [laughs] I remember making fun of it all the time and now it is one of my all-time favorite songs! That was my first concert that he dragged me to but I am forever grateful! It kind of came full circle! [laugh]
What captured your imagination and turned your focus to music and made you pursue another aspect of your career?
I have always been a music fan. I know everyone says that but it’s true. Music was the soundtrack to my life, literally. Rock ‘n’ roll and punk were the soundtracks to all of the modeling auditions, living in Europe and acting. It has always been there. My brother is an accomplished keyboard player and my grandfather played the concertina, so there was always music going on in my household. My dad was playing Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young every morning before school. Music was always a huge part of our household but I never got around to it because I was so busy with acting and modeling. A couple of years ago, I was at a Social Distortion show. I remember sitting in the crowd and something came over me. There was a moment when my hair stood up on the back of my neck. I said to my friend, “I would really love to do that. It really speaks to people.” I have been a Social D fan forever and I have seen a million shows but there was something in that night. It was what I was trying to do with acting, get people to feel something but he was doing it right in front of me but in a different way. I thought it was great. It is kind of what actors want, that immediate reaction. It is kind of like theater! I have always been a bit of a rebel and I love rock ‘n’ roll, so I decided I wanted to try and do it. The next day, I went to Guitar Center and bought a crappy starter guitar and a shitty little amp. I started to learn the instrument. With that said, I am still learning! [laughs] I have a lead guitarist for the fancy stuff! [laughs] I’m a rhythm player. I’m just chugging the chords!
Tell us a little bit about how you put the band together, the players involved and what they bring to the table?
I met these musicians through the Los Angeles music scene. There is such an amazing talent pool of people in the area! It’s talent overload as far as musicians go! One thing led to another. My manager introduced me to my lead guitarist, Dave Stucken, who tours with Social D. He has toured all over the world and is super talented. He brings a dirtier kind of sound to the songs. I don’t want to say he sounds like Social D but he has that sort of influence throughout his work and it’s great. My bass player, Mike Evans, he is from the Bay area. He is the punk guy in the band and brings that sort of style to it. My drummer, Kelly Hagerman, has toured all over the world with bands as well. These guys are all pros and really bring the songs to life. I start off with the chord progressions and lyrics and then bring it to them to make it sparkle! [laughs] I got lucky! They are really all insanely talented!
How did you come up with the name Kill My Coquette? What is the magic behind the name?
I don’t know if there is magic but I just love the word coquette! I am kind of obsessed with the 1960s and it was very common to use the word coquette describing people like Brigitte Bardot, Sophia Loren, Raquel Welch and so on. The writers used it a lot in the ‘60s. Maybe people don’t really know what it is these days but I really don’t care! [laughs] I’m a reader and I love interesting words and sounds. It is hard to spell and now I am like, “Did I do the right thing there?” [laughs] I am going with it now and I think it’s great!
It definitely catches your attention!
Exactly! I am teaching the world one person at a time! [laughs]
You have been hard at work on your first EP. What surprised you about the process?
I had no idea it would be so much fun! It is a lot of work but I’m used to that coming from the movie world where you are on set for 14 hours and you are used for five minutes. So, I am used to the grind. This kind of work is so much more physical because you aren’t waiting around a lot like you are in film. With music, you are there in the moment. You might be changing a lyric, the delivery of a line or a sound. You are bouncing back and forth between the studio and I really like the process. It is a lot of fun for me and it is total collaboration between everybody involved.
What is the process of bringing a Kill My Coquette song to life at this point?
When I start off, it is very minuscule. It starts in my bedroom with an idea and I write it down. It might be a lyric or a song title. From there, I will grab the guitar and play around where I might come up with a riff or a chord progression. I will record it on Garageband and let it sit for a couple of days and then come back to it. At that point, I might add to it or change things. Once I think I have something structurally significant, I will take it to the band. Then the guitarist, drummer and bassist do their thing. I like to go in with a solid structure and with the song pretty much figured out and completed. It’s the bones of the song I am creating, the bones and the muscle. Then they add all the additional finishing layers.
You worked with producer Danny McGough on this release. What was it like working alongside him on this project?
He has worked with Tom Waits, Shivaree and has toured with Social D on their last two or three albums as their keyboardist. He is so talented! It was so crazy to see, at his studio, all of the instruments this guy could play! Again, it’s like talent overload! [laughs] I was blown away! He wears so many different hats as a musician. I was also blown away by his ear. There would be times where he would say, “Let’s go back. Let’s do it again. Your note was a little off. It’s a little pitchy. Let’s do it again, it’s more like this … ” He can hear those things right away!
Which songs from the EP resonated with you the most and made them no-brainers for this release?
I wrote “3rd & Bonnie Brae” first but I didn’t know if it was good or if people would get it. I wrote “Festival Boy” after I went to Coachella. It literally was a story of what happened. After I wrote it, I felt it was definitely a story a lot of people have experienced and could relate to. You know, you go to a concert and meet someone, it’s a beautiful place and it’s magical but then it’s all over when you leave. [laughs] It is kind of a magical place you don’t ever want to leave! It is kind of a fantasy but then it is back to reality! [laughs] I think a lot of people can relate to that tune. Once I played it for a few people and got the reaction, I knew I was on to something!
What was the biggest challenge of bringing this EP to life? Any obstacles that stand out in your mind?
The biggest challenge, honestly, is probably getting it in people’s faces. There are a gazillion bands, so it is always a question on how you get it out there and get people to listen. That is one of the biggest challenges for any artist these days because there are so many great bands out there. I think there may be fewer women in rock, so there may be a few openings there but I certainly didn’t go into it with that being my focus. I would love to see more women in rock. So, it is a challenge to get it out there and get people to listen. I would love to do another album because I have so many ideas and so many songs written, finished and ready to go. I would love to get back in the studio as soon as possible. If Butch Vig is out there or you know how to get a hold of him, let me know! [laughs]
What do you have in store for us when it comes to video releases and tour dates in the months to come?
We are approaching the holidays, so right now we are kind of chilling and biding our time. We are going to tour smart. We are going to do regional, we’re going to do Vegas, Phoenix, San Francisco and down to San Diego. We are going to build our local following and expand from there. When it comes to videos, we just shot the video for the first single, “3rd & Bonnie Brae.” We have a special guest celebrity cameo and it’s going to be great! It’s a really cool video and it’s being worked on as we speak. Then we plan on doing a video for the next single, as well. We have some interest from some stars who are interested in doing some cameos. I think it is going to be a lot of fun. I really enjoy incorporating my acting side into the music as well. That allows us to do some really cool movie-style videos, instead of your standard music video. We can really take our time and build a story around it, make it like a short film and see where it goes.
Without a doubt, putting this project together is no easy feat. What is the biggest lesson you learned along the way?
Honestly, if you want to do something like this, you have to trust your gut and go with your heart. There are so many people involved and, if you listen to everyone’s opinion, you can easily get confused. It always comes back to, “What do you want to do?” That is something I really noticed along the way. You can be steered in a million different directions but you have to keep driving forward with your gut and trust it. That is why I did it. That is why I picked up the guitar. I had something to say. I trusted my gut and that is how I’ve gotten to this point.
A few months ago, Gene Simmons of KISS made the comment that, “rock ‘n’ roll is dead.” We have been having artists living in the scene voice their opinions on the state of rock. I wanted to get your opinion on that statement.
I think KISS is dead. [laughs] With all due respect, I think he had his moment and did very well. I think he needs to step aside and be more positive!
Who are some of the bands or musicians that resonate with you today and might provide some inspiration?
Brody Dalle’s new stuff is great. I love her. I also like The Kills and I think they are pretty cool. There is a band called Palma Violets who are also pretty cool. I have been listening to The Vaccines. I’m kind of all over the map. I like playing rock but I like to listen to a bunch of different styles when it comes to current bands. Those are a few that I think are really great.
Thanks for your time today, Natalie. We are definitely excited about the music you have been creating and look forward to everything you have coming our way!
Thank you so much, Jason! I will talk to you soon!
Kill My Coquette’s self-titled debut EP will be released on January 20, 2015.
KILL MY COQUETTE SOCIAL MEDIA:
Jason Price founded the mighty Icon Vs. Icon more than a decade ago. Along the way, he’s assembled an amazing group of like-minded individuals to spread the word on some of the most unique people and projects on the pop culture landscape.