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Dog capes, Ambition and Nonstop Touring? Meet Snailmate

Dog capes, Ambition and Nonstop Touring? Meet Snailmate

Snailmate has found a home in the music world by embracing a constant presence with audiences

Phoenix-based Band Finds Popularity Through The Unique

Kalen Lander is still Ariel Monet’s favorite rapper.

As a teen, she would frequently sneak out of her parents’ house to watch him perform as TKLB?, dragging her friends along with her.

“I was in high school and I’d sneak out to go see him play and I’d drag all my friends out and they [would ask] ‘Who are we going to see?’ and [I’d tell them] ‘It doesn’t matter, you’re coming’ and I’d pack my Suburban with like nine kids and we’d go see him play wherever he was.”

Monet was not only listening to music though, she and three others had formed the bluesy rock all-female group Sister Lip in 2012.

“That was my baby and we had a good thing going. But we did a tour and got home after three months, and they were like ‘we are never doing that again.’ So, I was like ‘well then I have to part ways.’”

When the band split and the venues previously booked for Sister Lip were up for grabs, Monet approached her favorite rapper, Lander with an opportunity to launch a new project: Snailmate. The two jumped on the open dates and embarked on their first tour.

And never stopped.

To say Snailmate tours often, is an understatement. The two used every cent they had to break their lease in Phoenix so they didn’t have to spend their time working doubles to pay rent in a house they barely lived in.

The duo has had remarkable success in a short time in part because of their almost-non-stop touring schedule, but also because they try to book diverse bills, not shying away from any opportunity to play.

The two have some ambitious goals for 2017. They will begin touring in March, hopefully reaching as far as Japan. They also plan to re-record some of their previous tracks, record at least two music videos and lay down some entirely new songs as well.

“We have a bunch of new stuff, but we are really taking our time with it. We will probably be playing the new songs long before we record,” said Monet.

With Lander on vocals and keyboard and Monet on drums (and the occasional triangle), it’s impossible for Snailmate to have anything but an experimental sound.

“We really latched onto ‘Synth Punk Hip Hop.’ We really try to find a succinct way to say it and try to be all encompassing, but it’s hard because we want to convey that we are a live band,” Lander said. “We are not a robot computer, but also that we are not rock n’ roll. We don’t have guitars so it’s really hard to find a short easy genre name to sum it all up.”

When the two aren’t playing music, they are either working at the Rhythm Room bar in Phoenix, where Lander is a manager and Monet does security and runs sound; or making their own unique merchandise.

The group features the same stickers, CDs, band shirts and posters found at most merch tables, but they also make unique, limited-run items, like capes for dogs or onesies. Lander does most of the artwork and the pair does all of their own screen printing.

Snailmate will play the final date of their winter tour in Albuquerque for free at Burt’s Tiki Lounge (515 Central Ave. NW, Albuquerque) on Jan. 14. You can hear them at bemysnailmate.com if you can’t make the show.

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Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.