Kitty Crimes is growing up nasty. Maria Kohler, the force behind Kitty Crimes, moved to the Mile High City in the late 2000s. She cut her teeth in bands like Science Partner, Houses and Harpoontang and collaborated with a number of artists in the Denver area. “[The experience] just made me realize I was revving up to have my own project,” Kohler said.

So she created Kitty Crimes, her onstage character, in 2011. She said her persona feels authentic and genuine to who she is as a person. “The performance is somewhat physically taxing and it’s nasty,” said the artist. “Nasty” is an attitude Kohler has been embracing long before Hillary Clinton’s “nasty woman” campaign. She said that to her, “nasty” means not asking for permission and overriding any fear of discomfort. Kohler spoke with 303 Magazine about a time when she played a show that made her uncomfortable.

Photo courtesy of Kitty Crimes

“It was like a big crowd and it was kind of an Americana boyband who I was opening for and the whole crowd was like conservative Christian straight white girls…” she said. Kohler noted she had someone onstage with her during this set playing Grand Theft Auto visuals in the background. He wore a leash around his neck attached to a chain she would pull on. “But I feel like I got 50 percent of [that crowd] 100 percent,” she continued. “And then the other 50 percent were like, ‘I do not know why the fuck you’re here.’ And I kind of understand that.”

Kohler’s new EP is available to stream now with an official celebration tomorrow night at Hi-Dive. On Crimes of the Kitty Vol. 2. the Denver hip-hop powerhouse is throwing down sexy, thoughtful beat constructions that alternate between filthy and silky, uncomfortable and euphoric. But most importantly, it’s unique beyond the Denver scene. 

Courtesy of Kitty Crimes

The distinction between hip-hop and pop on this record controls the pace on a record that ends all too soon. Crimes of the Kitty Vol. 2 is sharp both in quality and production. It borrows classic hip-hop tricks, but then she overlays them with raps and melodies unlike anything else these days. These songs have been years in the making, and most of the production was done by Kohler. Though Andrew Pike and Pat Meese are credited for production and Jeremy Averitt as a session player. The record starts with “Big City,” where Kohler chooses samples that keep listeners teetering on the edge of paranoia. 

“Is that really what you want to do with all that power/Leave a trail of broken hearts and all this strange desire,” she sings on “Power.” On it, a roomy, syncopated drum kit accompanies a smooth, dynamic melody. The single “Two Tens” builds on choppy, looping vocals that express Kohler’s willingness to experiment. The music video for “Two Tens” is more sophisticated than her previous ones “Find A Penny” and “Yogue Out”— videos are part of her charm. 

“It’s the juxtaposition of this delicate feminine regal flower aesthetic, combined with just straight up rapping about gay sex and I love that combination,” Kohler said. Even the name of her onstage persona is a juxtaposition of itself — as Kohler said, ‘Kitty’ refers to the feminine and ‘Crimes’ stands for a deviation from society’s vision of normalcy. 

On Crimes of the Kitty Vol. 2, Kohler has solidified the unapologetic nature of her character and her spirited range as an artist. She’s also making a loud splash in a male-dominated industry. Kohler has marked her territory in Denver, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for more ‘kitties.’ “I just want to help people feel comfortable doing uncomfortable things,” she said. “That’s what Kitty Crimes has been for me.”

The album release party is tomorrow at the Hi-Dive. Artist GVgrace will also perform as well as other special guests. Kohler said she’s going for a set that’s a Catholic homage, referencing the album artwork. After debuting her new material, the night will turn into a DJ dance party. It all starts at 8 p.m. tomorrow.

Crimes of the Kitty Vol. 2 is out now. Go here for tickets to the Hi-Dive show.