TKTTSM (an acronym for The Kiss Tried To Smack Me that is pronounced like “tick-uh-tism”) is the Brooklyn-based psychedelic rock duo comprised of Johanna Stahley and Owen O'Mahony. The weight of O'Mahony's instrumentation, balanced with Stahley's skewed pop vocals, is a perfect representation of the band's love of exploration, animals, exercise, and freedom and their dislike of cops, politicians, financial institutions and any other power hungry villains.
Musically, Stahley and O'Mahony share a love of pop, noise, experimentation, and improvisation on their debut self-titled TKTTSM album, out October 16th. Most of the album's lyrics were co-written with a stream of consciousness approach, and most of the music was born in a similar fashion. The album is a mural of the times we live in, and the things we fight for and against: love, death, materialism and truth. "I'm a little scared of it!" Stahley says of the record.
The road to being afraid of her own record started in 2006 when Stahley's tamer songwriting scored her a publishing deal with the legendary Cherry Lane Music. She was soon out on the road touring as a singer-songwriter and hearing her tunes on TV (and sung back to her by new fans at her shows).
"I wasn't happy, though," she says. "I was artistically lonely and unchallenged as a singer-songwriter with a hired band. I missed collaboration."
All of that changed when O'Mahony auditioned to be a member of Stahley's touring band in 2006. The pair soon began collaborating on songs, and as Stahley explains, "I became obsessed with writing with Owen. He embraced my weirdness and I adored his hilarious darkness. What came out was twisted, unique and catchy as hell."
While writing was joyous, recording was madly painful. "Owen wanted things out of me that I had never attempted before," Stahley says. Her style of singing even changed. "My best friend said, 'Why are you singing like that?' and I said, 'Because that's how I have to sing these songs!' It just popped out like some sweet, psychotic cheerleader."
O'Mahony's confident approach to the direction of TKTTSM's sound comes from a long history as an accomplished touring musician who has played with Jesse Malin, Brendan James and Esmée Denters among many others.
Stahley continues her more conventional songwriting work outside of TKTTSM, as well. Her song "Nothing I Would Change" is currently featured in a national commercial for Lowe's, and another tune, "I Can" was the theme song for four seasons of "Ruby" on the Style Network. She is also currently working on a new solo album, scheduled for release in 2013.
For now, though, TKTTSM is focusing on getting the word out about its debut album - an appropriate soundtrack for these trying times. TKTTSM's debut self-titled album will be released on October 16th, 2012. The album's first single "Plastic Fantastic" is streaming now.