PET POLITICS: Kelly Knapp’s Love of Noise (and Cats)

Love Bugs: Kelly and She Ra (all photos courtesy of Kelly Knapp).

When Shakespeare wrote “And though she be but little, she is fierce,” he could have very well been talking about Kelly Knapp if it wasn’t for the centuries that separate them. As the brains and arm grease behind events booking collective Noise Love and the punk singer of Feral Scouts (and formerly TKR TKR), Kelly is a powerhouse performer in both the forefront and behind the scenes. She is also a writer and cat mom. Kelly chatted with me about her history in Brooklyn, her future goals for her projects, her passion for both curating and playing musical events, and the love of her senior kitty, She Ra: Princess of Power.

AF: You have worked as both a booker and an artist in Brooklyn. Did booking bands inspire you to start your own project or did your musical talents drive you into the promotional element of the industry?

KK: I’ve always been drawn to music more than anything else. When I was really little my mom gave me some “golden oldies” cassette tapes and I loved all the doo wop harmonies and would sing along in my room. My first “band” was with my best friend who I grew up with down the street, when we were around 8 years old. Her dad had a really awesome vinyl collection that inspired us, and we both started playing guitar and keyboard. As we grew up we started to be more grunge.

When I got older and was trying to figure out the rest of my life I stopped playing as much, but I was constantly discovering new music and going to local shows. I think after moving to Brooklyn, writing about the shows I was already going to became a sweet little side gig for some freelance money, but also a great way to really get into the scene. I definitely think that the more live music I saw, the more I remembered how I was capable of making my own art, and I really missed singing, out of all the various instruments I had dabbled with over the years. But being in a band can be a super intense relationship, and it’s important to be with other artists who you click well with. After finding a group of people I knew I could work with on a meaningful level I really started to get even more inspired, and much happier!

AF: When did you start Noise Love and what was the first show you booked?

KK: Noise Love was born out of my frustration with writing and booking for other outlets, and how I started to feel too restricted with who I could cover or book on a bill, and what I could publish about a given artist. Noise Love was a way for me to be able to have full creative control and book or write about whoever I wanted, and to promote whoever I honestly believed in. My first booking ever actually ended up being two official CMJ shows, and I think the first legit Noise Love shows were a couple years later for Northside Festival in 2014. If I remember that right, I had Clouder, Suicide Dolls, Dead Waves, and Water at The Flat on Friday the 13th, and my friend Travis made this sick Cthulhu flyer for it. That was a rad show.

Feral Scouts

AF: Please introduce your kitty companion.

KK: My kitty boo is a tuxedo babe named She Ra. Because she’s the princess of power, haha.

AF: When did you adopt her?

KK: I took her in about three years ago, when she was already 8 years old. She’s probably had many crazy experiences I’ll never know about. We didn’t get along at first, but she finally settled in and now we’re very attached. It’s funny because I think of her as my baby, but in cat years she’s more like a grandmother.

AF: Growing up in Florida, did you have many pets?

KK: So many cats! I’ve never not had a cat, or four. I’ve had plenty of fish too. Growing up in Florida, I would always catch tadpoles and watch them grow from a little wormy fish thing to something with legs. I wouldn’t keep them for very long though. Florida has all kinds of weirdo insects, reptiles, and amphibians, that were always just all around my house. I didn’t exactly keep them as pets, but since they were there, and I was always going into the woods, we just had this coexistence. I never liked it when the spiders came inside the house though, or (every once in a while) a garden snake would pop out of a sink drain.

AF: How does being a pet mom in Brooklyn differ from being a pet mom in Florida?

KK: The “wild” is very different here. My cats in Florida were always catching bugs, but I don’t really have that many insect visitors here. Once I woke to find She Ra picking at a headless mouse on the floor next to my bed, and then I found the head in one of my slippers when I got up to put them on. That was very sweet of her. She needs to be entertained, though. I think in Florida there was more for my cats there to do; more room to run around. As a pet mom in Brooklyn I’m more aware that I need to help my cat not be bored so she stays happy.

AF: When did you move to New York, and was it to pursue a career in music or for other reasons?

KK: I moved to NYC in the dead of winter, January 2009. It was after I had done some traveling, and seen more of the world. Going back to Florida, everything just felt so small and limited. Music had a lot to do with my move, and culture in general. New York is like this place that’s geographically small but at the same time feels limitless because it’s just so jam-packed with everything you can imagine, and stuff you would have never imagined before. And when bands tour, they don’t skip over NYC. I remember finding out a band I loved was touring, getting excited, and not seeing any Florida dates. That was always a bummer. If they did, they would skim the top, so I’d have to drive up to Tallahassee to catch them – which I did often. I don’t blame them though. Florida is a long state to drive down into and then back out of, and when you’re a DIY band that’s a lot of time and gas to factor in.

AF: Tell us about your new band.

KK: We’re called Feral Scouts, and we play loud, heavy rock.

photo by Dean Keim

AF:  How many bands have you performed in?

KK: This is my second band in Brooklyn that I’ve really played out in and went beyond just loose jamming or random low key casual stuff. I’m getting to really sing, like dig deep find out what my voice can really do, so it’s really fun for me.

AF: If you could pick any type of animal in the world to be a companion to your cat, what species would it be? 

KK: I took in a bearded dragon once, just for a few weeks, and she seemed to really love it so maybe one of those. She Ra is pretty territorial, and historically she has not been a fan of any other animal I’ve brought in. I would love for her to have a companion she can run around with though – and not behead. I get worried that she’s lonely when I’m not home.

AF: If your kitty was a musician, what instrument would she play?

KK: She’s definitely a main vocalist – she can really howl when she wants to and she likes to interrupt me.

AF: Ever written a song about a (non-human) animal?

KK: The first song I ever wrote was about my old cat Misty, and how she was always smelling everything. It was called “Just A-Sniffin'”

AF: Favorite (non-human) animal song?

KK: Wolf howls.

AF: When can we catch the next Noise Love show?

KK: I’m putting together a cool acoustic show at Two Boots on November 14 to coincide with my friend Julia’s art show there!

AF: What are your future plans with Feral Scouts?

KK: We’re gonna try to focus and finally finish this EP we’ve been working on recording, plus more new songs, but we’ll probably end up booking more stuff too.

  • PLAYING DETROIT: Stef Chura “Spotted Gold”

  • PLAYING DETROIT: Critics Loathe Eminem’s “Revival”

  • Lloyd H. Miller of The Deedle Deedle Dees

    AUDIOMAMA: How Lloyd H. Miller Turns History Lessons into Music