"It probably started when I was 6 years old," musician Vonnie Kyle says. "I wanted to be a singer." Kyle, who works for Meow Wolf and has called Santa Fe home for less than two years after an upbringing in Minnesota, says she started with a little church singing, but that the majority of her practice came from singing along with bands like Nirvana and Green Day on the radio. "I was writing my own songs by the time I was 14 and I'm sure they were super emo," she tells SFR. "Even by the time I was 10 years old and listening to my Hanson CD I was like, 'Oh! These kids are writing music and that's really cool!'"
Kyle, of course, surpasses the likes of "MMMBop" (not that it's hard) with both her solo efforts and her band Ten Ten Divison. Maybe this speaks to a lifetime love of singing and guitar, or maybe it speaks to a sort of innate talent. Kyle's voice is unusual, a little more raw than her heroes like Liz Phair or Jewel, but still firmly planted in the same kind of emotional autobiography for which both are known.
Either way, her projects couldn't be more different from one another. "As far as my solo project goes, that's more mellow, singer-songwriter type stuff," she says. "The band is a little more on the side of garage pop—it's louder, a little heavier than emo." But it still contains those self-reflective lyrics and borderline self-loathing that we've come to associate with emo jams. The good ones, anyway.
On her most recent EP release, 2017's Cold and Bitter Girl, Kyle provides a brief tour through shoegaze, pop and even doo-wop, all with an obvious reverence for '90s alterna-rock. Musically, Kyle embraces pretty sounds and bright guitars layered under her own lead and backup vocals. Lyrically, however, she's pissed. And maybe at herself? Like on "Stupid Little Mouth," wherein she announces, "I don't know why I won't back down with this stupid, silly little mouth of mine," or "Cold and Bitter Girl," an altered perspective piece that explains "he won't allow himself to despise her." The best songs are always those that provide some level of transparency from the songwriter, even if it makes the writer look less than great.
She's been making moves locally as well, with live shows and a 2017 project in which she challenged herself to write a song a week for the whole year. With 52 fully completed songs, she says, "It's how I have all these songs for Ten Ten Division and for Vonnie Kyle." She also formed a band of local heavy-hitters like Daniel Mench-Thurlow of Snaggletooth and Dylan Blanchard, newly of Future Scars. Not bad for a musician like Kyle who thought about hanging up the guitar as recently as 2016. "I was hitting this point in my life where I wasn't even sure I could keep doing music," she says. "I was feeling defeated and exhausted, and when I came out here I thought my music career would be completely over."
With a new Ten Ten Division album in the works through local studio Kabby Sound (man, that dude Kabby Kabakoff has a hand in everything lately) and upcoming shows, she's been reinvigorated. And with two shows this week representing both her solo catalog and her full band, everyone else can find out what they should probably already know—homegirl means it.
Vonnie Kyle with Brett Newski
8 pm Thursday April 28. $8.
Second Street Brewery Rufina Taproom,
2920 Rufina St.,
Ten Ten Division with Dream Decay and Future Scars
8 pm Friday April 27. $5-$10.
2899 Trades West Road