Captain Ahab goes “pop opera” in Patrick Kennelly’s PATTY, opening May 18 in Santa Monica

Patty is an L.A. girl. You know her. Lost sister of Neo. Stepdaughter of Aimee Semple McPherson. Ex-wife of L. Ron Hubbard. Spiritually guided by Diana Ross, Corona and the Runaways

PATTY is all girl. As in 100% female cast. When the show opens this month at Highways, it will be state of the art. Audio, video, multi layered, multiple projectors, hip hop, Laugh In, black power, fight the power. Fight yourself! That’s probably the harder battle

A patty—a lump of meat. “PATTY”—a musical burger with everything on it. Pictured: Stephanie Tucker & Heather Cadarette. Still photo from the PATTY music video “Colors.”

I visited Patrick Kennelly at Highways in Santa Monica last week, and I was totally knocked out by what I saw and heard. PATTY is a kaleidoscope of old school analog counter culture vibes, cut and pasted all over the stage, thru some digital timespace manipulation (aka finesse).

Oh! And the music!

Pictured: Heather Cadarette. Art Direction: Cristina Bercovitz. Photo: Trevor Baker.

Kristin Erickson, Jonathan Snipes, Daveed Diggs, all the Pattys…they take the top of my head off with their showtunes meets fast forward digital glitching.

Then there are opening acts—all stars! Bai Ling, Actually Huizenga, Kevin Blechdom, Wet Mango, IE & more.

But first things first. PATTY creator Patrick Kennelly catches us up on the background details:

Why did you choose “Patty” as a subject? Who is PATTY?
Patty is a new socio-pop myth we’ve created – a Frankenstein monster of identity issues meant to inevitably serve as mirror into the American soul!  We’re swinging for the fences here.  I wouldn’t dare compare myself to William Klein, but I see what I’m doing as kind of along those lines…

When did you begin working on this? Has this been your obsession for a long time?
This is the accumulation of a lot of different thematic obsessions and aesthetic ideas I’ve been exploring for about ten years now.  When I stumbled across the odd parallels in the myth-making lives of icons Patty Duke and Patty Hearst, it created a surface where a lot of these things could be collaged – beginning with celebrity, madness, and cult-ideology.

Pictured: Radick Cembrzynski & Verity Branco. Still photo from the PATTY music video “Colors.”

How would you describe Jonathan’s music?
This is the peak of a collaborative partnership I’ve developed with Jonathan for the past 5 years.  I don’t even know where to begin in describing his music.  Perhaps 21st century Wall of Sound.  Jonathan has truly come into his Phil Spector here—minus the guns and domestic violence! With the support of Kristin Erickson and Daveed Diggs, the music he’s created really has a richness of thematic depth and sonic complexity that is just non-existent in most contemporary pop music.

If you can imagine a ’60s girl group sound super-charged by French house, and then mix in prog rock elements, synth disco, 90s rave, ghetto tech and everything in-between, you might have a vague idea.

Ultimately though, the final stew—the PATTY: The Revival album—is completely its own unique, epic sound.

L.A. Fashion Week will never be the same: PATTY cast members Maya Gingery, Elaine Hammel, & Nikki Bohm with creator Patrick Kennelly. Photo: Trevor Baker.

What can audiences expect from the production?
This is Patty’s passion play.  Her stations of the cross in 12 songs. It is a dance-pop concert, a fashion show and a theatrical revelation of the power and ultimate hopelessness of myth.  It is a sonic and visual assault.  Like Patty herself, it is everything.

Will there be cocktails, etc available at the shows?
What would a revival be without a bit of spiked drink?

War, economic depression, pollution, poverty…Our world is kinda messed up in 2012. What’s the most PATTY response to all this?
Accepting one’s fate is both inevitable and a cleanse.  When you become truly fee, you realize that you are alone in the world.  Are you ready for the glory?  Are you ready to be re-born?

Watch the first blast…then read on + LISTEN


Who is Patty, this character that you have been writing music for?
Patty is the perfect Pop Icon.  She’s a diva, a revolutionary, a messiah, and the girl next door.

How would you describe her musical world?
We’re drawing from pretty much every sphere of influence imaginable.  Because every possible musical idea has already been realized, I adopted an approach of constant, frantic plagiarism.  Innovation is only possible on the ashes of the past, so every moment of every song in PATTY is a fragment excavated from the ruins of pop music.

Logo: Kake Geck.

Is PATTY in any way related to what you do with Captain Ahab? Was it fun/difficult to switch musical gears for this project?
PATTY pretty much *is* a collection of Captain Ahab songs, but with more collaborators than I usually have on an Ahab record.  The exciting thing for me was to be able to explore ideas I would deem, “too stupid” to work in a Captain Ahab context.  There’s been something intangible about fording 15 incredibly talented women to sing this music that’s allowed me to further push the boundaries of what I find acceptable or silly.  The cast has a really good way of cutting through the superficiality of my melodies & lyrics, and finding profundity beneath.

What kind of motifs/genres did you feel that were needed to tell Patty’s story? And which made the final cut?
Pretty much every kind of pop music you can imagine, I suppose – and hopefully no one of the songs stays in one genre for very long.  If you want me to list genre names, I can do that I guess—disco, no-wave, southern rock, booty house, hip house, jumprope chant, new age, doo-wop, dubstep (sorry), breakcore, jungle, seapunk, post-minimalism, lounge, frenchcore, 2-step, juke, adult contemporary, etc.

What musicians were involved?
I co-wrote a few of the songs with Kristin Erickson (Kevin Blechdom).  Also rapper Daveed Diggs (with whom I’m in the band clipping) contributed a lot of lyrics (and appears on the recordings).  Justin Asher played some guitar & bass, Bryan Taylor played some drums, Kristin played banjo, John Snyder played some piano & did some string arrangements, but everything else was pretty much sequenced or played by me in the studio.  The cast will do some live drumming as well, but otherwise the music will be pre-recorded.  Electronic music of this complexity is impossible & pointless to try to re-create live.  The vocal parts were all written with live singing in mind, obviously, but the recorded parts are meant to be playback.  The playback is still dynamic & can adapt/change with the performers to a certain extent.

Photo: Trevor Baker.

How was it working with Kristin in this context?
Kristin has been delightful to work with.  I’ve been such a huge fan of her music for years – years before I met her.  To be able to collaborate & write with her on this project has been very exciting – we complement each other’s ideas very well, and I like getting to be the most grounded/sensible person in the room for a change!  If *I’m* the one who has to keep saying, “I think that idea is too silly” we’ve gotta be in some pretty exciting new territory!

Can you tell us about the Soundcloud track on
“The System” is a list of instructions & collection of advice given to Patty about how to be the perfect American role model.

Pictured: Emma Hawley. Photo: Trevor Baker.

What part of PATTY are you most excited to see an audience react to?
Its conservative & respectful running time.

Listen to the brand new track from Captain Ahab & PATTY composer Jonathan Snipes

Music by Jonathan Snipes
Lyrics by Daveed Diggs, Kristin Erickson, Jonathan Snipes
Sung by Heather Cadarette, Daveed Diggs, Emma Hawley, Megan Otteni, Stephanie Tucker
Mixed by Steve Kaplan

PATTY:  The Revival album credits:

Music by Jonathan Snipes with Kristin Erickson

Lyrics by Daveed Diggs, Kristin Erickson, Sigrid Gilmer, Patrick

Kennelly, Jonathan Snipes

Live Mixing by David Crawford

Recordings Mixed by Steve Kaplan

Pre-recorded Guitars by Justin Asher

Pre-recorded Drums by Bryan Taylor

Pre-recorded Banjo by Kristin Erickson

Piano & String Arrangements by John W. Snyder

Supplemental Pre-recorded vocals by Daveed Diggs, Megan Otteni, Jonathan Snipes

Don’t miss the show…

Image: Marie Fromont.

Highways Performance Space & U-N-M-A-R-K-E-D present the world premiere of

PATTY – a PoP! Musical Event

Premiere Performances MAY 18-20 & MAY 23-26

All female cast! RSVP

8:30pm Highways—1651 18th St., Santa Monica CA 90404

$15 (General Admission – Standing Room only / includes free cocktail)

$30 (VIP Admission – Assigned Seating + 2 cocktails + schwag bag)

Tickets are available online  or by calling 310-315-1459

Opening acts over the seven day run include:

Friday, May 18 – Actually Huizenga

Saturday, May 19 – IE

Sunday, May 20 – Bai Ling

Wednesday, May 23 – TBD

Thursday, May 24 – Kevin Blechdom & the M.T. Brain

Friday, May 25 – Wet Mango

Saturday, May 26 – Maxi Wild

More details TBA soon at HIGHWAYS web site

Watch a Carnage mini-doc on Captain Ahab performers Jim Merson & Jonathan Snipes

Add SEANCARNAGE.COM for exclusive music & more

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