Monday, January 16, 2017

Interview: Kim Talon of Kino Kimino. They Play The Saint on 1/23 with Fruit & Flowers, Lunch Ladies, and EVL MOMMZ

Kino Kimino (l-r: Tarra Thiessen, Jordyn Blakely, Kim Talon) by Thomas Ignatius

Kino Kimino Go to Washington

For over a decade, songwriter / artist Kim Talon has brought a wholly individual voice to her brand of post-punk pop. From her DIY, self-produced work as a member of LA's Eagle & Talon to her more recent efforts with legendary producers John Goodmanson (Sleater-Kinney, Bikini Kill) and John Agnello (Dinosaur Jr., Sonic Youth, Kurt Vile, The Hold Steady), Talon has continued to challenge and push boundaries.

On Kino Kimino's debut, Bait Is for Sissies, Talon worked with Agnello and Sonic Youth members Lee Ranaldo and Steve Shelley at Sonic Youth's New Jersey studio. The result is a collection that is simultaneously sweet and serrated, accessible and experimental. Talon's voice alternates between angelic and angular; while the guitars hum, buzz, or bounce against the intricate drums. There's definitely an infusion of recognizable 90s indie rock on Bait Is for Sissies, but it's impossible for Talon's unique style to sound derivative.

This week, Kino Kimino -- who now consist of Talon, Tarra Thiessen on lead guitar, and Jordyn Blakely on drums -- embark on their March to Washington Tour. After hitting Brooklyn, Philly, and DC, the band wind things up with a show at The Saint in Asbury Park on January 23rd. That one also features Fruit & Flowers, Lunch Ladies, and EVL MOMMZ. It's brought to you by Little Dickman Records and yours truly.

I had the chance to ask Kim Talon a few questions before Kino Kimino head out on tour. Check that out, along with all of the March to Washingon Tour dates, below.

Over the course of your career, you’ve gone from being part of a Los Angeles-based duo with Eagle and Talon to fronting your own New York-based projects with JAN and now Kino Kimino. What effect have those transitions had on you as a musician and songwriter?

Collaborating with different artists always has an effect on composition, so the songwriting always ends up shaped by the different musicians I'm working with. As a musician, those transitions have really helped me to grow by learning something from every collaborator along the way.

You’re a singular artist with a distinctive voice. At the same time, you got to work with some indie rock icons in John Agnello, Lee Renaldo, and Steve Shelley on recording Bait Is for Sissies. First of all, how did that come about? Second, can you talk a bit about what that collaboration did for your songs?

I met Lee and Steve through John Agnello. I had just moved from LA to NY and didn't know many musicians, so John introduced me to them. Steve added such a beautiful and interesting rhythmic foundation to the record and Lee helped fill in the high end with his soaring and extremely creative guitar parts. They really helped me transform the demos into something much bigger and I had so much fun working with them. They're all the kindest people… This is a characteristic highly valued by Canadians such as myself.

I remember reading a quote from back when you released "Caste Out" as a single where you said the song was about the experience of being an outsider and the joy at finding others who may not quite fit in. Have you always felt like an outsider? Have you been able to find a community of other outsiders in New York?

I'm so fortunate to have an amazing community of artists here in Brooklyn who have so warmly welcomed me into their arms. So, no, I'm not feeling artistically isolated at the moment. I think I have intermittently felt that way because I left home as a teenager and have been slightly nomadic ever since. I think that moving around a lot and touring on and off for years can make a person feel secluded.

Speaking of that, you've put together a new Kino Kimino line-up for live shows and tours. How did you get together with your current group of outsiders?

Thank you for asking me that… Every day I feel so lucky to be playing with incredible women who are unbelievably talented, intelligent and endlessly creative. Jordyn Blakely from Stove and Jackal Onassis is playing drums and Tarra Thiessen from Sharkmuffin & Ex-Girlfriends is playing lead guitar. I met Jordyn through mutual friends and Jordyn used to play in Sharkmuffin, so she introduced me to Tarra and it's been true love ever since.

That line-up is heading out on a mini “March to Washington Tour” that starts in Brooklyn on January 18th and winds up here in Asbury Park on January 23rd. On January 21st, the day of the Women’s March on Washington, you’ll be in DC to participate in the march and play the Not My Inauguration Fest. What’s your excitement level for that day right about now?

0.5 of me is concerned I'm going to lose my voice screaming at the march before the show so, my excitement level rests at a solid 9.5.

It feels like this is a pretty special little tour. Do you have anything planned to mark the occasion?

Yes! We'll be selling special edition Women’s March to Washington merch that will only be available at the shows, with all proceeds going to Planned Parenthood. We’re also playing some benefit shows and will be debuting some new material.

Jan 18: Brooklyn, NY @ The Footlight
Jan 20: Philadelphia, PA @ The Barbary 
(Planned Parenthood benefit)
Jan 21: Washington, D.C. @ Not My Inauguration Festival 
(Planned Parenthood benefit)
Jan 23: Asbury Park, NJ @ The Saint

I saw you at a show a few days after the election where you covered REM’s “It’s the End of the World.” Have your feelings evolved since the rawness of those first few days?

When I think back to that week and that show, all I can recall is a black cloud hanging over me. I was really struggling to envision any hope for the future and fell into a depression that has only recently subsided. I began to feel better once I started to organize our March to Washington Tour and am elated by how many people have jumped on board to support our mission.

I keep reading that a silver lining to all of this is that we’ll get some great protest art. Have you been inspired to write more songs?

I guess those sentiments -- which I’ve also been hearing around -- upset me somehow, because to me, there isn’t silver lining to having a president with no moral compass.

Kino Kimino at Berlin NYC in November, 2016.

As I mentioned, you’ll be winding your tour up at The Saint in Asbury Park at a show CoolDad Music is throwing with Little Dickman Records that also features Fruit & Flowers, Lunch Ladies, and EVL MOMMZ. Will this be your first time playing Asbury Park?

Yes!  And, only my second time playing in New Jersey. I’m still an East Coast newbie.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that it’s probably going to be one of the best Monday nights people have experienced in a long time -- one of the best nights period. They would be crazy to miss it. Can you confirm this?

I can absolutely confirm this. I've recently fallen for Fruit & Flowers and have gotten to know Caroline [Yoder]. She's an epic front woman with a gorgeous voice. I'm also excited to see Lunch Ladies and EVL MOMMZ for the first time!

Thanks so much for answering my questions. Have a great tour, and I look forward to seeing you at The Saint.

So looking forward to the show. Thanks Jim!

Little Dickman Records and CoolDad Music Present Kino Kimino, Fruit & Flowers, Lunch Ladies, and EVL MOMMZ at The Saint in Asbury Park on January 23rd. Doors open at 7:30. 18 to enter. 21 to drink. $5 gets you inside. Kino Kimino will be selling special-edition, tour commemorative merchandise to benefit Planned Parenthood.

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