Kill My Coquette – Interview with Natalie Denise Sperl

Los Angeles based band Kill My Coquette will be releasing their self-titled EP January 20, 2015. Band members Dave Stucken on lead guitar, Mike Evans on bass and Kelly Hagerman on drums along with songwriter/vocalist/guitarist Natalie Denise Sperl have recorded a nicely grouped set of tunes that showcase the range of this band. Kill My Coquette recorded the self-titled debut EP at Evelyn Martin Recordings in Los Angeles, with Danny McGough (Tom Waits, Social Distortion, Shivaree) producing.

They play rock ‘n’ roll brash, bold, cool and confident lying on a crossroads where rock gets punk a bit drunk so it’s a little less full of itself. You’ll catch the same ease and melodic sense of a Lou Reed tune, a composition much like Sperl’s motivating muse Mike Ness of Social Distortion, a wild abandon and fearlessness of Brody Dale’s Spinnerette or Distillers. They have attitude with bits of grit and snarl, and a smooth finish. Singer Natalie’s smoky vocals vacillate between sultry and raw. Lyrically, Sperl is taking on themes of what she sees around her from relationships to human angst, along with a walking tour in a shady neighborhood. As a songwriter, she has a lot more she’d like to explore. It should be a cool journey to travel on.

Already a successful model and actress, Natalie Denise Sperl has appeared in numerous TV shows and films including a leading role in cult film Succubus Hell Bent, and a supporting role in Around the World in 80 Days, with Jackie Chan. Now, Sperl built this band from her mental woodshed out of scraps, notes, and low-tech equipment in order to fill a creative void from within. She clearly had an artistic vision that needed to get out and thus, Kill My Coquette was born.

I managed to get a conversation with the model, actress, (now also) musician, songwriter and vocalist.

AofLA: Was music something you had put aside to pursue your other interests? If not, what motivated you to pursue music now?

NDS: I didn’t put off the other interests. I haven’t stopped acting and modeling. It’s something I have always wanted to do but I never found time to do it. There was a moment of opportunity that I kind of seized upon and thought “This is the time, it’s now or never” but I still do all three. Being an artist today, I think you have to keep every option open and explore every artistic avenue that you possibly can.

AofLA: You’ve expressed your creativity in a few different ways. What did you most like about your previous careers and how do you think they helped prepare you for the music scene?

NDS: They’ve prepared me for the music scene because they are performance based. Modeling, as silly as it may seem, is still sort of a performance. You do portray a character, at least I did. I had fun with it. I became somebody else and that’s all part of performance. With acting, you have to get into a character and to dive into their head and get under their skin. You fill in the blanks between the dialogue that’s written for you, so you have to flesh that out on your own. You’re always kind of writing the character as you go along. Music is telling a story too, you’re writing a character or maybe about yourself, but it’s all storytelling at the end of the day. It’s all performance, and it all tells a story. Music mixes modeling and acting, where you’re expressing yourself through a character.

AofLA: How did you get into writing music?

NDS: I was always a big music fan growing up. My dad was always playing music. He blasted classic rock every morning before we went to school.  My brother was in a band and he played drums. I think I was the singer for one hot minute or two. My cousin had a band, as he’s an accomplished guitarist, and my other cousin is a drummer. My grandpa was a concert pianist. Music has always been all around me. It made sense that I gravitated towards it. I also played in a band in high school. But, it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I picked up the electric guitar. I think the sheer enjoyment of it is that it isn’t so raw and powerful to hit that E chord through an amplifier, and rattling your windows is so intense. I thought “wow, I gotta explore this and see where it takes me. I’d love to write some songs from start to finish”. It wasn’t until I picked a guitar up that I felt like I really needed to try this.

AofLA: The music and performance of Mike Ness and Social Distortion was influential for you, was this a factor in working with producer Danny McGough on the EP?

NDS: I don’t know… is it serendipitous? Is it coincidental? It’s crazy; I think when that happened, I felt I was doing the right thing. I think it makes sense now because the previous manager of Social D is now my current manager, and that brought on the relationship with Danny McGough, who produced this EP and also worked with Social Distortion as their Hammond player (their keyboard player). So, it was just all meant to be. As lame as that may sound. I didn’t search them out. I didn’t go looking for Danny McGough; I wouldn’t have known where to start. Then, flash forward to an introduction with Danny, my manager said “I think I know just the right producer for you”. And once Danny heard the demos, the Garageband, crappy demos, he said “oh, I hear Lou Reed, Courtney Love…” and so on. He just got it. It was magical in that way. I didn’t plan for it or intend for it happen, but I’m glad it did.

AofLA: Were the songs created as a band or did you write them prior to starting this project?

NDS: No, I wrote them sitting alone in my bedroom for the last two years. Filling notebooks and dusting off old idea boxes. Just writing songs and learning the chord progressions. Demoing them on an old tape recorder I found, then on Garageband, and then ultimately in the recording studio with the producer and the band.  I structured everything here, wrote everything here and then brought it to the band and they fleshed it out and brought it to life.

AofLA: Do you find that the songs you had already written and performed evolved at all in the recording process?

NDS: Yeah, they sound full, they sound HUGE! They sound like huge festival anthems to me now. It started with me and an acoustic guitar, and now you hear drums, bass and backing vocals. When the band came in, it all went to a whole new level. I am still blown away that they sound so big.

AofLA: In your songwriting do you draw inspiration from your life?

NDS: Yeah, I really do. I think I have a unique perspective on a lot of the aspects of the beauty biz and the entertainment industry. Both the lighter and dark sides of them both. I am interested in writing about those worlds and those characters. Not necessarily the big “superstars” in that world, but maybe the ones who had it and lost it, maybe the ones who are still trying. The ones who never give up. The hustlers… you know. I love all the people around it for good or for bad. I think as an insider, it gives me a unique perspective. I’ve been on film set, in films, and have worked with big stars and I’d like to explore that if I can tap into it. So that’s what I am starting to do now with this band.

AofLA: Any last words you’d like to share about the band?

NDS: I did this all on my own. This wasn’t something that was created or crafted. This was all my own through my own blood, sweat, and tears. I believe that if you have something you have always wanted to do, then just go for it. I took these songs from my bedroom with an acoustic guitar and turned them in to an EP and that’s huge. So if there is something you want to do, I say just have the guts and go for it.  Don’t be afraid to go off into un-chartered territory. That’s how this was for me. There aren’t that many girls fronting rock bands, I was thinking “oh my God, can I really do this?” I think at the end of the day, you need to push yourself forward and do it.

The EP release date is January 20th 2015. The band plays December 20th at The Three Clubs in Hollywood playing with The Two Tens.