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Snail Serendipity

Love in the Microwave is a ten track release from the Arizona based band Snailmate that ushers listeners into a psychedelic noise pop explosion full of electrifying grooves and hip hop influenced beats. Ariel is a maniac on the drums, pumping the digital melodies full of organic heartbeat, and Kalen is the maestro arranging synthesizers and vocal tones. The soundwaves from this wild twosome instantly fill any room to maximum capacity with charisma and joy. Our meeting with Snailmate happened entirely by chance when they were forced to move, from their studio next door, into our building. Their sculptor neighbor left his hose on overnight, flooding the building and original Snailmate studio. Luckily their equipment was spared and the Snails loaded up their Dodge Snail van and moved next door into our building. We hear every studio musician in our building, mostly with half deaf ears, but this time we stopped everything and tracked the new sound down right away. Behind the door of a small padded practice room, we found a shy duo who transformed into melodic monsters while they performed a song for us. There was literally drumstick shrapnel embedded in the wall from Ariel rocking out. They won us over with this energy and kindness even before we found out about our shared love for hot sauce; namely Tabasco sauce from the famed McIlhenny family of Avery Island, Louisiana. Listen to Snailmate online now and visit them when they perform in a city near you. Until then, please enjoy our feature interview with our spicy snail friends, Kalen Lander and Ariel Monet of Snailmate.

Cactus: Where are you from?

A: St Paul, MN or sometimes Space I think.

K: I am a Phoenix, AZ native!

Cactus: How did you start playing music?

A: I started playing pots and pans when I was a toddler and the rest is history.

K: I always wanted to be the center of attention, so I joined a couple bands in middle school. I promptly got kicked out and decided that I could just do it myself! So I started making terrible beats on my computer and writing silly songs. Not much has changed…

Cactus: What kind of music did you listen to growing up?

A: Uffta.. my family listened to modern country music while I was growing up but I was lucky enough to have cousins that showed me hip-hop and R&B, I was immediately a fan. In high school I realized I loved every genre out there from jazz to metal.

K: The first concert I ever attended was Jimmy Buffet in 1992. My parents were huge parrot heads and so was I. I grew up with Bob Marley and local alternative music like The Refreshments and the Gin Blossoms. I was later obsessed with the Red Hot Chili Peppers until I discovered stoner rock. Heavy riffs and pot took over my life in high school.

 Ariel Monet | Snailmate

Ariel Monet | Snailmate

Cactus: Where does your hip hop influence come from?

A: When I was 6 or 7 I heard Shaggy for the first time and couldn’t get enough!! A few years later my cousin showed me the movie “8 Mile” and I have just thought rapping was so cool ever since. When I was 16 I saw Kalen perform with his old rap group and he instantly became my favorite rapper. I still can’t believe he’s now in my band.

K: Well when I was writing and recording songs, I discovered very quickly that I am an awful singer. That led to me experimenting with denser, more wordy songs. Which led to rapping. When I discovered underground hip hop, my life was changed forever. You mean that raps don’t just have to be about gangster shit? You could spit a verse about space and conspiracy theories and still sound dope? I was hooked. I kept pushing myself to try and rap faster and faster until it got out of hand. I’ve dialed it back a little bit now.

Cactus: How did you meet each other and form the band?

A: My high school drum teacher at the time invited me to go see his band Japhys Descent play at a local club. I drove a bunch of my friends down to the show and we ended up seeing Kalen perform with his hip-hop group and he honestly blew my mind. Me and my friends bumped his demo cd for months after that! A couple years later my band at the time, “Sister Lip” played every Monday at the bar Kalen worked at. We went on a tour and broke up when we got home, Kalen’s band was breaking up at the same time so he went out and bought some synths… learned how to use them and we started Snailmate.

K: Yeah, pretty much that! My band TKLB was a psychedelic hip hop duo with me on the mic and DJ Stowner on the turntables. We made an impact locally but were too high to ever build on that momentum. It eventually sputtered out and I was looking for a new band to join. Ariel expressed interested, but only under the condition that I learn to play an instrument as well as do vocals.

Kalen Lander | Snailmate

Kalen Lander | Snailmate

Cactus: Tell us a fun fact about snails?

A: There are some types snails that can reproduce with themselves.

K: Just like us, garden snails prefer to eat together! They will choose the same food source as another snail, even when there is other food more easily available nearby. That must be why Ariel is always stealing the cheese off my pizza even when they have their own…

Cactus: What is something that your fans would be surprised to learn about you?

A: I have crippling social anxiety.

K: Hey, that’s what I was going to say! I guess it should be known that I have been stung by scorpions over 20 times in my life. I’m still waiting for super powers though…

Cactus: What do you want the world to know about Snailmate the band?

A: Everything we’ve done so far has been DIY as far as tour booking, releases, merch, recording costs etc. We LOVE doing it, we love meeting new people and hearing people’s stories. We love meeting & playing with bands all over the country. We sleep in our car 95% of the time on tour. We want every where we play to be a safe space, all are welcome.

K: We are constantly struggling with the urge to lay around and be lazy. The only reason we get out of bed is because we love playing music and meeting new people!

Cactus: What are your favorite places to play?

A: All of them except one. #haters

K: Anywhere that gives me free food.

Cactus: In what city and with what artist would be your ideal performance of all time?

A: Miley Cyrus in New York City, omg I would die.

K: Las Vegas with Beck.

Cactus: What activities keeps you sane on the road?

A: Making up our own language, screaming at different pitches, snacks, searching for tacos, shopping for local hot sauce, putting stickers everywhere.

K: I need to play video games every few days to decompress. I bought a Nintendo Switch, and it has really helped me find some me-time on the road. I’m a big gamer nerd but I rarely have time to do it.

Cactus: What is your guilty pleasure?

A: Justin Bieber.

K: I don’t feel guilt about any of my pleasures.

Cactus: What have you been listening to and would recommend to our readers?

A: Coolzey, Moodie Black, Primus, Break Up Haircuts, The Outcalls, Lowlight, Community Center. Here’s a link to my favorite bands from touring!

K: “Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino” by Arctic Monkeys is my favorite road album. Monster Magnet, Clutch, Primus, They Might Be Giants and Aesop Rock are my any time, any song bands. I recommend going to more shows with bands you’ve never heard of.

Kalen loves Tabasco and Ariel likes tequila. Have you guys tried a prairie fire? It’s a shot of tequila with tabasco in it.

A: Ummmm what????? I’ve had a shot of Tabasco before, and plenty of Tequilas… I’ll try this soon. It’ll probably be my new favorite thing.

K: That sounds right up our alley! I’m a bartender when I’m not touring, but I ate all the Tobasco we had in the bar… I guess I could spare some from the gallon jug we got for christmas…

Cactus: Thanks for the interview guys.


K: Yeah, thanks! It has been so great getting to know yall! Keep up all the hard work! Big shout to Francisco Studios haha!

Instagram: @snailmate Web:


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