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Phoenix, Arizona, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2015 | INDIE

Phoenix, Arizona, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2015
Duo Hip Hop Synth




"How Snailmate Achieved Road Warrior Status"

When I call Kalen Lander of Snailmate, he and his partner, Ariel Monet, are in Wisconsin, about 50 shows into a tour to support the Tempe band’s first full-length album, Love in the Microwave. Sixty shows are ahead, including the Twin Cities Pride festival, Evel Knievel Days in Butte, Montana; and the UFO Festival in Roswell, New Mexico, on the 70th anniversary of the infamous “crash.” Speaking of crashing, Lander sleeps through our scheduled 10:30 phoner and I accuse him of “living the life.”

He and Monet are living the life — one where every day can be an adventure, where you get to meet a lot of cool people receptive to the nerdcore, drum, and synth quirk-rap that you make and who buy the merch you’re serving up. The pair now tour in a converted school short-bus and have a silkscreen press set up in a garage outside of St. Paul, Minnestota, where Monet has some family, and they make more T-shirts before resuming the tour.

In this DIY world, Lander does all the artwork and website stuff, while Monet books all the shows. Although they do everything on their own terms, Lander admits, “It would be nice if we had someone else who could drive once in a while.”

Touring is the whole reason Snailmate exists.

“Ariel had booked a couple of tours with Sister Lips when she played with them,” Lander says. “They had done a three-month tour trek and told her that they didn’t want to tour anymore because it was too much work. At the same time, my old band TKLB [The Kalen Lander Band] had just fallen apart. And Ariel and I were living together and both suddenly without bands. So we worked on some songs and have been pretty much on tour ever since.”

Lander says they play a lot of smaller towns because people there are more excited to see out-of-town acts. “People off the beaten path show up and buy stuff, as opposed to rolling into Portland or Phoenix, to a certain extent, where they’re numb to shows and music,” he says.

Those receptive cities are embracing music made solely with synth and drums, over which Lander’s flow modulates from guttural growls to high-pitch falsetto squeals and conversational modulation. These are vocal gymnastics even the most masochistic thrashcore frontman would never undertake, let alone while playing a synthesizer and locking into Monet’s popping syncopation.

Love in the Microwave’s opening track “Jumper/Cable” hardly affords Lander any breathing opportunities — even the instrumental break requires him to whisper through it. And he has the smarts to send up faux beat poets with “The Waiter”: “Call me the waiter because I’m always waiting, baby, not because I’m a waiter.”

Among the receptive audience who saw the duo perform last tour was multiplatinum-selling engineer Bill Douglass, who has worked closely with R. Kelly, Celine Dion, and Smashing Pumpkins. (And if thinking about working with those three acts gives you a headache, you can tell why Douglass left Chicago for the relative quiet of Colorado Springs.) Douglass put Snailmate up at his Colorado home studio and captured the band’s live act in a series of one-take outbursts.

When I catch up with Lander again, Snailmate have signed to Los Angeles-based label OCML Records, played the mainstage at Evel Knievel Days, and wrapped the Roswell show. “The freaks truly turn out for the UFO fest. Nothing from outer space could be weirder than some people in the Southwest,” he laughs. - Phoenix New Times

"Best March Singles: Vacuum"

Kalen Lander and Ariel Monet have always occupied the quirky fringes of the Phoenix hip-hop scene, and that’s exactly where you’ll find them on this instantly engaging new release. After drawing you in with a speaker-rattling low-end synth hook, Monet settles into a surf beat while Lander hits you with “I got an alibi that reads like a resume / I got an anti-Christ that I can't wait to resurrect / I got some cherry pie, yeah that might be a euphemism / But I’ll never kiss ’n’ tell until I'm telling ’em I'm quitting.” But they really hit their stride here after downshifting the tempo to brilliant effect on the break going into chorus hook before bringing you back up to speed for a singalong chorus of: “I would invite you to my vacuum / But then it wouldn't be a vacuum / Well I'm not sure if that's true / But it works better without you,” with Lander’s lyrics punctuated by falsetto vocals singing “Yeah, yeah” and “no, no.” - AZ Central

"10 New Albums You Should Hear"

Snailmate, “Dine 'n’ Dash”

The minimalist nerdcore duo get “Dine ‘n’ Dash” off to an excellent start with a track called “Jumper / Cable,” on which they memorably ask, “So you think you’re holier than me?/ My mother was a Wiffle ball, my father was Swiss cheese,” following through with a chorus of “It’s the year 2000-and-something / Who’s countin’?” They’re funny that way. Other highlights range from the rapid-fire raps that drives the verses of the loopy “Virtuous Reality” to the menacing Sabbath-for-synths riff that establishes the tone for “Doctor’s Blues.” - AZ Central

"The Couple Behind Local Band Snailmate Share Their Nerdcore Secrets"

Is there anything more adorable in the world than nerd love? There just can't be, and therein lies much of the appeal of nerdcore duo Snailmate, which is made up of local music nerd and former Sister Lip drummer Ariel Monet and her rapper beau Kalen Lander, formerly of TKLB?.

The pair has been performing together only since April and started writing songs together in October, but already they have covered more ground touring than many established local acts. They also have managed to record their first EP, Escargot (due for a July 25 release at C.A.S.A. Sunba in Tempe), in the nine-month period between in October and July, a feat that neither Monet nor Lander's previous projects was able to accomplish. Sister Lip dropped an album; it just took the band well over two years to do so, while TKLB? never released a single official recording, Lander says.

"TKLB? was the Kalen Lander Band, and it was me and a DJ, and it was supposed to be a traditional hip-hop thing, and I just didn't want to do that anymore," Lander says. "I just felt like it wasn't going anywhere. Everything is live now, no backing tracks. I just got over the whole dude-with-a-microphone-and-CD-player thing. I went down that road and I got tired of either having a DJ or an iPod. I would hop up on stage with Sister Lip or Japhy's Descent or the Sugar Thieves, and that was always way more of a rush to me than playing with an iPod."

While perhaps Lander thought of himself as just a dude with an iPod and a microphone, Monet became enamored of the nerdy MC from a young age, claiming TKLB? has been her favorite rapper since she was 16. "I got all my friends at my high school into him, too," Monet says.

But besides being afforded the chance to work with her significant other/childhood hero, being in a two-piece band with her boyfriend also allows Monet the opportunity to tour just about constantly. The mohawked drummer says that after a three-­month jaunt across the country, her bandmates in Sister Lip were no longer interested in touring for that long. So she decided to bow out of Sister Lip in favor of a group that was more focused on touring, also one that is able to tour cheaper and more comfortably. It's a lot easier for two people to crash out in a coupe, provided they don't mind getting more familiar with each other than those in a more conventionally sized band.

"We can sleep in a car together," Lander says. "We can share very confined spaces, so if we had anyone else in the band, we couldn't tour as much.

"More people in the band means more ideas, more opposing directions, and schedules to work with," Monet says. "We actually had a couple more members and auditioned some people, but it just wasn't working."

Their flexible schedules — Monet is a sound technician at Rogue Bar and Lander is a bartender at Rhythm Room — have allowed the group to amass more out-of-town shows than local gigs. And they have two more tours lined up following the EP release, leaving for 15 days in September before spending October through December on the road. - Phoenix New Times

"Snailmate: Dine + Dash Review"

Quick on the heels of their debut EP, Snailmate has somehow found time between tours to release a sophomore effort of heavy synth-hop fusion. Dine +Dash is a six-song EP that further establishes the unique sound and vision of the duo Kalen Lander (TKLB?) and Ariel Monet (formerly of Sister Lip).

The record begins with the first single, “Jumper/Cable,” which is probably their most excitable song to date. To be fair, this is the soundtrack to videogame nightmares, but in a good way. Just listen to Monet screaming “Jump!” and wait for that to turn up in your dreams. It’s disturbing and catchy, but that’s how most of this EP is. “Worry Wort” follows and seem to be cut from the same mold—clever lyrics, screams and all. The light synth-hop brilliance of “Virtuous Reality” is a highlight, and Lander’s rap almost comes across as spoken-word poetry.

“Both” is one of their most interesting ventures musically and would make a great follow-up single. Meanwhile, the drum track and synth work on “Doctor’s Blues” blow my mind, and this lyric by Lander, “I swear there’s no god but I can’t prove it” followed by Monet’s shout of “It’s true!” is brilliant. “Boogie Man” finishes this installment with some aggressive and infinite weirdness, both lyrically and musically.

One great thing about Snailmate is that they cram so much into a song that you hear something different every time—whether it’s a strange sound effect or a lyric you never noticed, usually one that makes you laugh. These are the sounds of a couple of crazy musicians in love, and their music is some of the most unusual and unmistakable in the scene right now. Be sure to catch Snailmate at Time Out Lounge on February 12 for the release of their EP. - Java Magazine

"From Arizona With Love: Snailmate Wants To Punk… You Up!"

A recipe for Escargot: take two Arizona musicians, add a pair of synthesizers, mix with live rock drums, rap vocals and love.

If it wasn’t obvious, the recipe wasn’t for the food, but Escargot, the genre-straddling debut from Tempe-based duo Snailmate, who will soon be coming through the Rogue Valley for a pair of shows at Club 66 and Johnny B’s.

“Well, I don’t think electro punk was a conscious decision,” says synth wiz and vocalist Kalen Landers. “My roots are in hip hop, and Ariel’s are more in hard rock and jazz. Electropunk just kind of came out me getting synthesizers and exploring the noise that we both naturally made. It just happened to be fast and loud and heavy.

“It’s cause we can’t sing,” jokes drummer Ariel Monet.

“We both don’t have the most beautiful voices,” says Landers. “So it comes off a bit punky.”

But it also comes off a lot electro, and with Landers voice—the emotive range of which he really isn’t giving himself enough credit for—shimmying effortlessly back and forth between punchy raps, an evil lounge croon and punk snarls, it’s a powerful and unique blend. And unlike many bands going the electronic route, Snailmate doesn’t bother with laptops or backing tracks, fulfilling the Bill O’Reilly commandment of doing it live.

“I play all on feeling,” says Ariel Monet. “If it’s all done live, then I can feel more. If we added backing tracks, I’d have to play to a click, instead of being able to feel it out based on the audience.”

And audiences are something Snailmate has seen a lot of. The band has spent at least two our of every four weeks since April on the road, and is currently on a three-month trip around the U.S. That sort of touring schedule could break a lot of bands, but not Snailmate.

“We live together, we work together, we’re dating,” says Landers. “So we’re used to sharing confined spaces and seeing each other at our worst. If you don’t mind smelling bad, it’s really easy if you have a good attitude about it.”

“Any sort of trials and discomfort of touring is completely secondary to the highs that we’ve experienced from playing every night,” says Monet.

They’re enjoying it so much, the band even wants to spread that love.

“If any band reading this anywhere needs help booking a show in Arizona, we’re glad to help them out,” says Monet.

But while Snailmate is glad to help other bands book a show in Arizona, they might not be able to make it there themselves.

“The second we get home, we’re going to record and then leave again,” says Monet. - Rogue Valley Messenger


2015: “Escargot” EP
2016: “Dine n Dash” EP
2016: “Leftovers” EP
2017: “Love in the Microwave” LP



Snailmate was formed by Kalen Lander and Ariel Monet in early 2015 in Phoenix, AZ. To date, the band has independently released 3 EPs (on tape and CD) one 7 inch vinyl split, one tape split and one full length album "Love in the Microwave" (digital distribution by OCML records) which together have amassed thousands of physical sales and Digital downloads and garnered praise from press outlets such as Phoenix New Times, Java Magazine, Rogue Valley Messenger, ABQ Free Press and more. The band's self-booked touring began spring of 2015 and they haven't stopped since. Snailmate has played clubs in every region of the country while also performing at SXSW, Evel Knievel days, UFO festival, multiple pride festivals, State fairs, Maximum Ames and Fog Fest. They are currently at work on their fourth EP which will be released early 2018. The duo will continue touring the US, Canada, Mexico, Europe and more until they die.

Band Members