If you didn't know better, you might think there were two Kourtney Kleins running around Los Angeles. One is a go-go dancing ex-rockstar, the eye candy next to the DJ booth. The other is a grown-up version of the girl next door — a successful music programmer with her own studio and devoted student of music who seems more interested in vintage synthesizers than club life.
After meeting the second version, it's hard to believe she works as a living fantasy at clubs like Avalon and has been go-go dancing since she was 21. She is a pretty blond wearing a ponytail who discusses music in a measured, almost academic manner. She dresses conservatively and is businesslike in conversation — save for her consistent and well-placed use of four-letter words.
Klein studied sound engineering at Riverside Community College and is a classically trained mallet percussionist. “I'd be dancing on stilts or on a platform above the crowd and look down at the DJ and know exactly what he was doing,” she says.
In 2005, she was cast as the host of Spike TV's short lived series Boom!, a show literally about blowing shit up. “It was a fucking blast,” Klein says. “I got to shoot machine guns and pose for Maxim.” Shortly after the series was cancelled, Klein got what she thought was her big break in music, a spot as the touring drummer and live programmer for the British post-industrial group Nitzer Ebb. She went on a world tour, opening for bands like Depeche Mode, and at age 25 she played for over 10,000 people at Japan's Yokohama Arena.
But touring wasn't all it was cracked up to be. Klein often felt lonely and alienated while on the road, the maxim about it being just a bunch of airports and unfamiliar beds proving all too true. “I saw the whole world, but too often from the window of my hotel room,” she remembers. “I was alone in these strange places; these poor techs would have to escort me to go get tampons.”
Klein continued touring the world as a drummer and engineer with acts like Combichrist until 2009. But after almost four years, she decided to put down roots in L.A. and build her own recording studio. That studio is where she nurtures her pedagogical nature, pulling out the guts of old synths and re-building them the way she likes.
In 2011, she started her own band called Army On The Dance Floor. “It's analog-synth pop, in the vein of Depeche Mode,” she says.”Not quite goth or industrial, but really dark.” Klein is a complete dork when she talks about music, constantly throwing in obscure references. “I'm a total geek,” she says, laughing. “You know engineers are zany.”
Still go-go dancing regularly, Klein doesn't view it as demeaning or even lesser artistically than anything else she does. “I know this won't make sense,” she says, “but for me it's not any differently than playing the drums.”
Army On The Dance Floor's first single “Listen Like Strangers” drops today.