The Prettiots might look like the cutest band you’ve ever seen – they’re pretty, they have a pretty name, they laugh a lot, and they sing dreamy songs about high school love affairs over happy ukulele melodies – but at heart, they’re young New York punks with a deep understanding of the history of guitar music. Their breezy, salty college pop tune “Boys (I Dated In High School)” is Kitty on a comedown, with a Telecaster replacing Pro Tools synths. But The Prettiots – Kay Kasparhauser (ukulele and vocals), Lulu Prat (bass), and Rachel Trachtenburg (drums) – don’t really care if you underestimate them. In fact, they dare you to try.
Wonderland: What is a “prettiot”?
Kay: It’s a pretty idiot! It’s a made-up term that I saw on someone else’s Facebook or something. But I decided it was a good band name, because the most powerful thing we can do as a band is be underestimated. There are people who are just cute and dumb, and that’s what the name is playing on.
W: Has it worked, or are you still underestimated sometimes?
Lulu: I think so. A lot of times we get a shocked response after a show. People are like, “Wow, I totally didn’t expect that,” or, “Wow, you guys are actually good!”
Kay: Like, every show! People will tell us that we’re funny, as if we don’t know we’re funny.
Lulu: They’re saying, “Your songs are like funny too!”
W: Who’s a perfect example of a pretty idiot?
Kay: Like, most of Los Angeles! No… I’d say Betty Boop maybe, or Marilyn Monroe in Some Like It Hot. And she plays the ukulele, too.
W: How did you start playing the ukulele?
Kay: I bought one off eBay when I was drunk, when I was 17. Then it arrived in the mail and I figured I should probably get really good at it, having bought it, and then I broke my ankle so I had nothing else to do all summer.
W: If someone has never heard your music before, what song should they listen to first?
Rachel: I think “Boys (I Dated In High School)”. It’s a better representation of our newer sound.
W: What sort of boys did you date in high school?
Kay: Well, the song is mostly about mine. Like, really misguided, older men. Misguided on my part, not on theirs. What about you guys?
Lulu: I dated one gentleman and then I was kind of solo. He played bass just like me.
Rachel: I didn’t go to high school, so I didn’t date boys in high school…
W: What were you doing instead?
Rachel: I was in a family band. Touring. A lot.
Kay: Rachel’s my hero!
W: Who are your other musical heroes?
Rachel: I’ll go first. I really like early Pink Floyd – Syd Barrett is one of my favourite musicians – and I love a lot of stuff like Jeffrey Lewis, The Moldy Peaches, King Crimson… And The Breeders are a new favourite that I’ve been obsessing over.
Kay: Mine are all over the place. This is really hard… I listen to a lot of slower sludge metal, like Eyehategod. And I’ve been listening to a lot of 70s French pop recently.
Lulu: In terms of newer music, I listen to a lot of punk and hardcore, but also a lot of 80s goth music like The Cure, The Smiths, Joy Division, Siouxsie Sioux and stuff like that.
W: What do you all do apart from The Prettiots?
Rachel: Lulu and I both have other musical projects on the side – I have a solo thing that’s like psychedelic folk. I also make jewellery and do some modelling. But I think for all of us, music is basically our number one thing that takes up every inch of our soul.
Kay: Yup. I mean, I also babysit.
Rachel: Yeah, I babysit too!