“We didn’t know that the strings had to be tuned,” says Patti Cake frontwoman, songwriter, and guitarist Kristina Uranowski (a.k.a. Kritty), paraphrasing a quote from ‘80s punks Minutemen. “Loose strings or tight strings, we thought it was like a personal preference,” she concludes, followed by a melodious laugh that fills the back patio of a midtown Toronto cafe.
Minutemen’s single, “Maybe Partying Will Help,” is the title for Patti Cake’s newest EP; it’s a “clever sentiment” that Uranowski believes resonates–often destructively—among fellow dissatisfied millennials. MPWH follows Patti Cake’s 2011 release, The Prime Minister of Cool Chicks.
“I really dig what they [Minutemen] were [able] to make into music from knowing nothing about music, because I come from the other side, my dad’s a classical conductor and I studied music my whole life.”
Citing 1970’s singer-songwriter Melanie Safka, Charo (“Charo is like a wicked guitar player and plus she’s super showy”), and Dolly Parton (“obviously”) as a few of her many influences, Uranowski was raised in a family where music was just another language one was expected to learn along with German and Polish. At 16, after years of piano, she taught herself how to play the guitar, and by 19 she was writing songs while attending musical theater college. Four years ago, she and drummer Eli Franken decided to form Patti Cake. “He’s into punk, and I love punk, even though I sing like a Broadway singer,” Uranowski says. Patti Cake quickly attracted a line up of other talented musician friends and the band has since gone on to craft a distinctive sound—rock n’ roll meets Motown; punk spirit meets broadway panache.
Their latest EP is one Kritty is particularly excited about. Produced and engineered by Jose Contreras (By Divine Right), the band spent a charmed weekend recording it at his Caledon home in the woods.
“Some of the backup vocals we recorded in different parts of the cabin—I’d be belting it up in the rafters and the girls would be downstairs on the mics. It was really magical and it made for some really cool blends and little background-background vocals that you notice in your headphones,” she says. “There is a breakdown about 3/4 of the way through ‘D-D-Diamonds‘ that I really dig because of that.”
Gifted with Kritty’s big, glorious voice, tracks like “Lindsay Lohan,” which drew a fantastic reception at this year’s NXNE, and “Diamonds,” inspired by the passing of her beloved grandmother, illustrate the bands flair for marrying retro sounds with relevant contemporary stories that have a “dark chocolate layer of sorrow underneath.” MPWH also serves up what fans familiar with Patti Cake’s exciting live performances love. “Our first EP was a bit dirtier, this one’s a bit more sparkly—it’s like a little sample platter of our live shows: melodic but jerky, emotional but peppy.”
Besides pondering the idea of forming a Patti Cake backup vocalist group with fellow bandmates Steph Guthrie and Melissa Wand, Patti Cake hopes to release a special album for their devoted fans. “We’re going to record more [music]. I’m excited. We have a lot of material and we want to get it out in small EP’s and hopefully release a beautiful vinyl recording.”