What's In Your Fridge: Kenzie Cates

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      What’s In Your Fridge is where the Straight asks interesting Vancouverites about their life-changing concerts, favourite albums, and, most importantly, what’s sitting beside the Heinz ketchup in their custom-made Big Chill Retropolitan 20.6-cubic-foot refrigerators.

      On the grill

      Kenzie Cates

      Who are you

      I’m Kenzie Cates and I’m an artist, songwriter and cult survivor. This year I was a finalist in two international song contests—one with American Songwriter and one with Nashville Songwriters Association International. I left a cult last fall once I actually figured out it was a doomsday cult, which took about five years to see (people actually don’t usually join cults on purpose). To connect with some of the levity in the situation through music, I wrote “i don’t need u”, a song where I confront my former cult leader. I also made a music video with Shiraz Higgins who does a lot of bbno$’s stuff, and shooting it was probably the most fun day of my entire life. The concept is that I am a cult leader, and my disciples are all lookalikes of my ex-cult leader.

      Words cannot express how fun and empowering the experience was: I got to hold a baby lamb in my arms and also tell somebody who psychologically abused me for five years to go f#&% themselves all in one day. Bet you can’t name a more fun day. Vancouver in particular has an interesting history with cults (NXIVM presence, for example), and I think the more cult survivors that can share their experiences, the better people will be at recognizing or extricating themselves from cults, which are far more common than any of us would like to think.

      First concert

      I think my first concert was with my best friend’s parents and we went to see Bryan Adams in Kamloops when I was probably 8 or 9. Our parents made us wear earplugs, so I remember feeling like a big loser, and I also didn’t know any of his songs except “Summer of ’69,” which he saved for the encore, so I felt pretty bored for most of the concert and I remember thinking to myself, “I don’t think concerts are for me.” Then he played “Summer of ’69”—my brain lit up at the magic of witnessing this song live with thousands of other people singing along. I revised my position and have since been to many concerts.

      Life-changing concert

      Okay so I’m not proud of this, but in grade four I was a huge Avril Lavigne fan (show me a Y2K girlie who wasn’t, though) and my parents took my best friend and I to her concert as a surprise. It was actually a terrible concert—she had zero energy onstage, and her performance was pitchy and frankly boring—but I was so obsessed with her that none of those flaws registered upon me. Seeing her in person sort of reified her as a figure in my mind. Instead of some abstract, far-off person, I realized my favourite artists were actual people just like you or I, and I think that was definitely a turning point for me. I realized that I could do what she was doing, and now here I am, trying to follow in her footsteps. :’)

      Top three records

      James Bad Electric Light I think Electric Light by James Bay is one of the most underrated pop records from the past decade. I feel like he revealed his versatility and ambition as a pop artist/songwriter, and I think we absolutely slept on it and forced him to return to his tried and true songwriting approach (which I appreciate). He was headed in a very Harry Styles direction, but maybe we just weren’t ready for that in 2018, and we let that version of him get away.

      Lorde Melodrama I also positively adored Melodrama by Lorde (I guess I’m a sucker for a sophomore album—maybe I just love seeing artists push themselves outside of their comfort zone and try to do something new). I think production-wise, it’s also one of Jack Antonoff’s best records. In terms of pop, I feel like they broke all the rules but still did something amazing that was able to bring so many people together, which is what pop music is supposed to do.

      Derek and the Dominos Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs Finally, I think Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs by Derek and the Dominos will forever have a special place in my heart. I’ve listened to Eric Clapton my whole life, and I think especially this record was fundamental to developing my taste in music. To this day, I can’t resist a manz with blues sensibilities making pop songs (James Bay, John Mayer, Hozier, JP Saxe). 

      All-time favourite video

      Beyoncé “Lemonade” The entire visual album. It is perfect.

      What’s in your fridge?

      Daikon kimchi. This is possibly my most humiliating confession to date, but I have a weird paranoid obsession with having bad breath. (It might be related to the Regina George of my high school writing, “Have a good summer, tuna breath!” in my yearbook, but who can say for sure?”). I read somewhere that kimchi has a compound in it that is particularly helpful for preventing bad breath, and now I always have a jar of it in my fridge.

      Individually packaged raspberry-flavoured Greek yogurt. I’m going through a phase right now where I must have one of these for breakfast every single morning. It must be Greek, and it must be raspberry—no other cultured dairy product will do. I know they’re not environmentally friendly, but we all know that industrial polluters are responsible for the majority of environmental degradation so let’s please keep our focus on the true culprits of climate change (billionaires) and leave my single-serving yogurts out of this. Thank you.

      President’s Choice orange juice with pulp. Having experimented extensively, I have—scientifically—determined that this is the best orange juice on the market. I can tell the difference between this and Tropicana and Western Family. I will die on this hill.

      Check out Kenzie Cates, including “i don’t need u", here