“There’s some morbid obsessions I have and one of them is public service announcements. Since I was a little kid they’ve been scaring the shit out of me in the name of promoting a good lifestyle,” says Devin Will.
Devin, one half of local queer synth pop duo Space Kiddettes, is sitting outside of Agora coffeehouse sporting a Psychedelic Furs Mirror Moves T-shirt. How she multitasks scrolling through Facebook and discussing the Kiddettes’ newest single “P.S.A.,” and it’s accompanying music video, is something of a millennial mystery. When she was three years old, a public service announcement about Shaken Baby Syndrome instilled in her a fear of holding infants. The commercial haunts her to this day.
“There was a bit in the middle where they had a transparent baby doll. It was a clear baby doll and in its head, they put an egg to show how sensitive the brain was. They shook the clear plastic doll and the egg, like, shattered. And I had nightmares about it – for – years,” she hollers at a comfortable outside voice, clapping her hands at the end of the harrowing tale for extra emphasis.
Devin says Trent Lira, the Kiddettes’ other half, has listened to her recall her nightmare countless times; seated to her left, Trent is sipping an iced chai latte, donning a Scooby Doo crop top and a denim jacket bedazzled in enough flair to land a job at "Chotchkie’s," the restaurant from Office Space.
The duo’s latest music video finds them reenacting public service announcements in an ‘80s vein with a Space Kiddettes twist, a D.I.Y. spirit, and a manic energy.
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“We are kind of in the beginning of the song, addressing the audience. We’re telling you what to do, we’re telling you how to feel, what to look like, what to say, and then you can choose not to do any of that,” says Trent.
Throughout the video, the Kiddettes’ maneuver through a series of dangerous acts such as electrocution via toaster and looking at social media while driving. Bizarre, recurring scenes of the duo smashing eggs with a fry pan likely reference Devin’s aforementioned phobia.
Midway through the video, local act STOO makes their grand appearance in a modern pop star meets Power Rangers moment. Armed with a 1998 Britney Spears type of headset microphone and surrounded by where-did-those-come-from sock puppets, STOO delivers an unabashedly hilarious verse (“I’m the bomb dot com! / Can’t be duplicated!”), aligned with the Kiddettes’ own creative vision.
“I always think of Space Kiddettes existing in this big, cartoony, kids show world. It’s like we live in Yo Gabba Gabba or we live in The Big Comfy Couch. Like, that’s the universe we live in,” says Devin. Like popcorn at its peak in the microwave, the duo rapidly, exponentially names seemingly every musical guest artist from the hit television show; their synergy infectious.
The duo remains a staple in Houston’s LGBT community. They recently DJ'd The Montrose Center’s Hatch Youth prom at Numbers and later this month they will be part of an event at the Contemporary Arts Museum in collaboration with the Stonewall Exhibit and the Rothko Chapel. In addition to outreach, Trent feels that the Kiddettes also serve the community simply by taking the stage.
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“We reach out to the community with every bill that we put together ‘cause it’s almost always exclusively women and queer people and queer people of color. Anytime we create a bill, that’s who we have in mind.”
And when those lineups come to life – it’s always a party.
“It’s meant to just be weird and fun and a good time. You don’t have to stand and go ‘Wow, what incredible art! It really took a lot of thought for them to do that!’ It’s just like. ‘Man, they sure do jump a lot!” says Devin.
You can catch the Space Kiddettes jump around a lot on Saturday, June 8 at Axelrad with Tee Vee, Darsi, DJ E$, and DJ Dom Top. Doors at 8 p.m. Free admission. Follow them on Instagram and Twitter @spacekiddettes.