If you caught The Knocks at their recent appearance at The Foundry, the slightly-more-intimate venue inside the newly opened Fillmore Philly, hopefully got a chance to see the supporting set from Cardiknox, which I think was indisputably the highlight of the evening. If not, you’ll have another chance to catch the dance pop duo on an extensive upcoming tour supporting Carly Rae Jepsen (although, at the moment, there’s not a Philly date). The duo, comprised of Lonnie Angle and Thomas Dutton, are preparing for the release of their debut album, Portrait, which hits shelves March 11th. The sounds are reminiscent of the sass pop of early Katy Perry at her best, but with the poignancy of PHILTHY favorites Charli XCX, Dum Dum Girls, and YACHT. And their live performances will surely convince you that ineffably-charismatic-and-well-styled vocalist Lonnie Angle is — heart, body, and soul — one of the premiere frontpeople of her generation (Her recent performance at the Foundry had a less-than-half-capacity room looking like a dance punk party for the ages.) I recently got a chance to chat with Lonnie about how they’ve spent the past year and how they’re looking forward to officially getting their first album out.
Izzy Cihak: So you’ve been on tour with The Knocks for much of 2016, so far. How has that been? Any particular favorite cities, favorite audiences, or favorite fans?
Lonnie Angle: Touring with The Knocks has been incredible. They are the nicest guys and have the best crew ever. We’re all sharing a bus, which makes being on the road a ton easier, and it feels like we’re all at winter camp. The audiences have been amazing, too. Everyone shows up ready to party and dance, which is a dream as performers. Standout cities have been DC, Chicago, and NYC. Sold out shows that were complete madness, dance party-central, and oh so much fun.
Izzy: On a similar note, considering that the band is still relatively new, you’ve played on a lot of really cool tours and bills, in addition to garnering a lot of really amazing critical acclaim from places like Teen Vogue, The Guardian, and SPIN. What have been some of your personal highlights of the band so far?
Lonnie: Ah, thank you! We’ve definitely had some exciting moments and it’s thrilling to have more and more people know our music. One huge standout of the last 12 months was playing Sasquatch Festival at the Gorge in Washington. It’s both Thomas and my hometown state, and we grew up going to concerts there. The backdrop is phenomenally beautiful and we played all new music to a totally amped crowd. I was deathly nervous before we played as we’d never performed the songs before, but the moment I got onstage all the nerves disappeared and I was in bliss. It was also really special playing European festivals this past summer. Such a treat to get to be over there and man, those festivals are full of kids ready to party.
Izzy: Is there anything you think is especially important for fans and potential fans to know about your process of writing and recording, or just your aim as artists in general?
Lonnie: Thomas and I want to tell our stories in a way that we can help other people with their stories. Our upcoming album, Portrait, is all about being torn apart and broken, rebuilding and ultimately soaring past your obstacles. Perseverance, really. We hope that by being honest and genuine about our experiences, we can provide hope or guidance or a moment of joy to someone that may be struggling. Because at the end of the day, we are all just people looking to connect with one another, and music is an especially beautiful and poignant way to do that.
Izzy: Have you noticed any patterns in the kinds of people who seem to most like or best “get” your music?
Lonnie: It’s funny… I don’t know that we have. Our music is proving to be more universal than we realized. It’s definitely well received by those that are 30 and under, but we’ve found that a lot of adults like it a lot, too. Which is pretty rad.
Izzy: What can fans expect of it Portrait? What were the album’s most significant influences?
Lonnie: Dance party. Epic production. Honest storytelling. And hopefully a lot of moments that make you wanna move your body. We were very inspired by the ‘80s in terms of our production, so Peter Gabriel, Cyndi Lauper, Madonna. But Thomas also draws a lot from Drake and Kanye too, even if you don’t hear that in as obvious of a way.
Izzy: I do dig the entire album, but I really, really love “Wild Child.” I think it’s probably the most sassily uplifting song of 2016. (I’ve been using it to do my hair and get dressed every day for the past week.) How did that particular track come about?
Lonnie: Aw, thank you! We love it, too. We started writing it before we technically started writing for the album. We were at home in Seattle for a few weeks and spent a lot of time writing in our friend’s studio. We wrote the main keyboard riff first, and built around it. The song had at least five choruses before it was finalized, but ultimately we wanted it to be an anthem of sorts for the wild child that isn’t typically wild, the person that’s just a bit left of center and marches to the beat of their own drum. By being them and doing what feeds their soul, they’re in fact the wildest of all.
Izzy: I really love your recent music video for “On My Way,” in addition to your own personal sense of style, so I’m curious what you consider to be the biggest influences behind the visual elements of Cardiknox. Are there any visual artists you’re especially fond of, or any “style icons” that have a particularly significant influence on your sense of style?
Lonnie: I tend to dress kind of classic with a twist. So if it’s basic silhouettes, I throw on something super loud as an accent piece. Or if I’m in all black, I’ll do something crazy with my hair. For the “On My Way” video, we channeled a new-age, ’80s-esque look. I wanted it to be reflective of what I normally wear on stage, i.e., bodycon, but I wanted a bomber jacket that had flare. I spent a long time looking for the right coat and lucked out when we found that ridiculous Moschino coat with gold chain just days before the shoot. The hair was also a look that felt iconic and would leave a lasting impression. I think when you’re dressing yourself, it’s just one element of self-expression. You get to show who you are rather than saying it. And in terms of style inspo: Debbie Harry all the way.
Izzy: Finally, what are you absolutely most excited for in 2016? You have a ton of amazing stuff in your very near future. What would you say is your ultimate goal for the year?
Lonnie: We are so excited to be releasing our debut full-length album. It’s like a dream come true. I can’t wait for the world to hear it, and I hope that it brings us more amazing opportunities to travel the world, perform, and meet so many amazing people. We’re also so, so excited to be heading out on tour with Carly Rae Jepsen for a month and a half. She is such a sweetheart and her whole crew is the best. It’s going to be a blast!