In the Pink Slip with Justin Bond

by Brian Moylan

Next Magazine

Monday August 10, 2009

Singer, scenester and all-around bohemian Justin Bond is sort of like a "cool" barometer. If you attend an event and see him there, then you know that whatever you're at is something special. The same can be said about his recently released EP, Pink Slip.

While many know Bond as the man behind Kiki, the boozy, washed-up chanteuse of Kiki & Herb, this is the first project that Bond has undertaken on his own. Recorded live at Le Poisson Rouge, the five-song disc is unlike anything you've heard before. But Bond's presence should let you know that it is definitely the place to be. We asked him to give us the inside story.

Trans-genre

Next: Where did the inspiration for the new EP come from?

Justin Bond: I wanted to create something that was very personal and that reflected my own journey. After all those years playing Kiki, I felt the need to create something that was essentially me. The pink slip I'm wearing [on the album cover] belonged to my sister Kitty who died of AIDS in the mid-'90s. When she was dying we bonded over being "spiritual hermaphrodites" or "two-spirits" in the Native American terminology, and I carry her energy with me wherever I go. The songs on the EP are mostly about regeneration, fragility, desire and self-actualization.

Next: How would you describe the sound of the disc?

Justin Bond: It's all acoustic-piano, cello, flute and drums. I've described it as anti-cabaret only because, while I enjoy the cabaret formula, the music pulls more directly from the traditions of folk music, rock 'n' roll, punk and French chansons. Like me, it's very trans. Let's call it "Trans-Genre."

Next: Did you find writing songs difficult?

Justin Bond: The most difficult part seems to be finding the time and the head space. It's very exciting to write a song that people enjoy although I'd be embarrassed to sing some of the ridiculous ditties I've rejected-especially the one where my cat and my boyfriend took on the same identity. That one was a little too creepy...

Next: How does it feel to be performing these songs as yourself rather than as a character?

Justin Bond: The difference lies in the fact that this is real, this is me. Kiki only had some of my skills. For years I felt like I could only paint with a few colors; now I get to paint with a full palette.

Next: What role does gender play in your work?

Justin Bond: Being a trans person is probably the most confusing and magical thing I've had to deal with in my life and it continues to be. I think that because I'm trans I am constantly seeking, questioning and exploring both gender identity and what it means to be a human being. This exploration informs me spiritually, philosophically and artistically. It gives me a restlessness that keeps me engaged in life and in my relationships with other people.

Next: Do you think Kiki & Herb fans will enjoy the new CD?

Justin Bond:Oh, hon! Anyone who has a heart and a brain will live for this shit!

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