Scowl’s Kat Moss On Tumblr, Radiohead, Being A Horse Girl, & Psychic Dance Routine

Laura Harvey/Stereogum

Scowl’s Kat Moss On Tumblr, Radiohead, Being A Horse Girl, & Psychic Dance Routine

Laura Harvey/Stereogum

Since their formation in 2019, Scowl have been known for many things: a crazy show at a Sonic drive-thru, Post Malone donning their t-shirts, a Taco Bell ad campaign, a slot opening for Limp Bizkit, and the subsequent industry plant accusations. All of this talk, though, is nothing compared to the Santa Cruz band’s music. After two rowdy EPs, they shared their 2021 debut full-length How Flowers Grow, a visceral blast of vicious, rambunctious hardcore. Last year’s Psychic Dance Routine EP raised the volume even louder while also experimenting with poppier, more cinematic sounds. They have the energy, the attitude, and the infectiousness to justify all the noise surrounding it.

The crew has Kat Moss on vocals, Malachi Greene on guitar, Mikey Bifolco also on guitar, Bailey Lupo on bass, and Cole Gilbert on drums. Moss sings and screams with a singular ardency and at Stereogum’s Austin Night Party earlier this month she commanded the audience to jump up and down and start a circle pit. Before Scowl’s set, we easily found Moss in the mass of people thanks to her neon green hair. Her face sparkled with silver glitter, and she was clad in a gothic dress that ended above her knees, revealing a tattoo on her leg that says FIDLAR. Moss gushed to Stereogum about Tumblr, Radiohead, being a horse girl, and Psychic Dance Routine, and you can read it all below. (The Q&A was conducted for a short video edit that’s coming soon, which is why it doesn’t flow like one of our normal interviews.)

You have a FIDLAR tattoo.

KAT MOSS: I do have a Fidlar tattoo. It’s a stick and poke that one of my best friends did when I was 18 or 19. At the time, I would say Fidlar was probably one of my favorite bands, and they have effectively influenced my life heavily.

Who’s your favorite band right now?

MOSS: Probably a tie between Car Seat Headrest and Radiohead. I feel so embarrassed to admit these things because it feels so vulnerable for some reason.

What’s your favorite Radiohead album?

MOSS: Kid A.

What’s your relationship with Post Malone like?

MOSS: I haven’t met Post Malone properly yet. We’ve interacted through some mutual friends. The most interaction has always just been him sending pictures to my friends who work with him in Scowl T-shirts. It’s super cool and sweet. I love it.

You probably get asked about the Sonic drive-thru a lot.

MOSS: Oh yeah, Sonic Drive drive-thru in New Jersey. Definitely. We played that a little over a year ago now, I don’t know, time doesn’t exist to me. But it was a blast. I was a little drunky off some White Claws. It was a great punk time. It was awesome.

What does the phrase “Psychic Dance Routine” mean?

MOSS: When I came up with “Psychic Dance Routine,” I was driving in my car. I was thinking about formulations of words that feel important to me, that are completely original to me. Kind of almost like when you’re a kid and you’re inventing a language. I feel like sometimes when you’re writing music and lyrics and poetry, you’re kind of inventing your own formulation of words. And that’s what I wanted to do there. But I wanted to come up with something that felt impactful, describing what I was speaking about in the lyrics.

“Psychic Dance Routine,” the definition of it is the psychological gymnastics you do trying to communicate with the people in the world around you. That’s really what I was talking about. It’s this boundary between spirituality and in psychological communication with the people around you.

It kind of makes me think of moshing.

MOSS: Yes, that’s amazing. I love that “Psychic Dance Routine” would make you think about moshing because I feel like moshing or dancing to music is an energy exchange that is partially involved, especially with hardcore music because it’s such a physical genre of music, and it’s so audience oriented. That’s really special about hardcore music. You don’t really find that as much in other genres of music.

You mentioned you have an interest in 2014 soft grunge Tumblr.

MOSS: If I were to look back on eras of fashion and aesthetics, and then the correlation of the internet and how it affected my youth in my teen years, spending so much time on Tumblr and being exposed to the different fashion and aesthetics that came about in 2012 through 2015, kind of soft grunge aesthetics, I think if you were there, you know. It’s absolutely one of those if-you-know-you-know kind of moments. I constantly feel inspired by it now because it was something that brought so much excitement to me and portraying myself in my outer existence as a teenager and feeling really edgy and different and dark. I still reach for pieces in my closet or choose makeup looks that emulate that moment in time and history and I never really want to leave that. I love it.

What were your favorite bands from that era?

MOSS: I feel like it was more artists-forward for me, like Lana Del Rey, Marina And The Diamonds, Sky Ferreira. Arctic Monkeys — the classics. Pure Heroine came out by Lorde, that was an incredibly effective and inspiring record for a young person to listen to at that time, who was really taking in that genre of aesthetics.

I also got into Lykki Li and I was listening to a lot of alternative radio. It was freshman year of high school for me, so Alt-J and Foster The People. I could keep going.

I heard you were a horse girl.

MOSS: I was a horse girl. I still am a horse girl. There is no “was.” I grew up riding horses and working on ranches and I had a great time. I was out in the sun out kicking dirt and cleaning stalls. It was a good time. It gave me something to focus on.

What was the last illegal thing you did?

MOSS: Oh man, probably jaywalk. I don’t even know if that’s illegal anymore. I don’t really go out of my way to do illegal things at this point in my life because I’m really afraid of people in power. They just freak me out. I have a bit of a problem with it. So I try not to break the rules too much, fly under the radar.

What’s your favorite conspiracy theory?

MOSS: Oh my god. I have a couple. It’s hard to pick. I haven’t really dipped my toes in conspiracy theory world lately. I would say the one conspiracy theory that we talk about the most in the van is the Mandela Effect. Every single thing that we can’t agree on we usually just blame on the Mandela Effect.

What’s your favorite Scowl song?

MOSS: I feel like it’s the one that everyone’s so sick of hearing, but it’s “Opening Night.” I really enjoy “Opening Night.” I enjoyed performing it mainly. And then I would say the underrated, best Scowl song is “Four Walls,” it’s just fun to jump up and down to, like, sporting music. The band is just like going crazy.

Is it hard to record music when so much of Scowl is playing crazy shows?

MOSS: Yeah, it doesn’t stop. We’re a very busy band, and I have no complaints. But it’s hard to find time for myself. It’s hard to find time to sleep and to relax, let alone be creative. But that goes without saying. We are biting the bit to be creative. We’re so ready to write music and get into new shit. I just love playing shows but I really, really can’t wait to play new music and to continue being creative and writing.

How do you capture the band’s live energy when you’re in the studio?

MOSS: It’s really hard, and it’s something I’m learning a lot about currently. I’ve become a little bit more hyperfixated on vocal performance on recording and how the shape of your mouth and your energy and your emotion in that day and in that moment affects your vocal performance in the studio.

I think part of that is why I’ve been like fascinated with bands like Radiohead and Car Seat Headrest lately. They’re very, very heady and production-forward bands. I just think that’s really relevant right now for me personally.

Laura Harvey/Stereogum

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