Love, Kim

At SXSW Music Festival in 2013 a group of musicians/writers/and filmmakers were asked to write a letter to the song they wish they had written. Most of us deviated from this instruction. I wrote my letter to the entire concept of love. 

lovekimWEB

If you like to be read to, you can listen here (also includes a previously released version of Glory of Love)

Dear love,

You are the word. The word that matters most. And the one most devoid of meaning. You are the word that my Swedish friend said she has used only one time, because in Sweden, to say the word to someone once in a lifetime is more than enough for many lifetimes. But you are also the word that advertisers in America use to sell hotdogs and shoes. In our age of hyperbole you are used so often that to hear your name sometimes makes me cringe.

And yet, you are one of the words that I use the most, that occupies my mind and heart. And the only damn thing worth living for.

But if I had written you, love, I would have split you, like an atom, revealing your power. Fracturing you so you spread across the universe in all your glorious colours.

Love, if I had written you, you would have so many siblings. A word for the feeling that a mother’s smile evokes, and one for the feeling that accompanies the afternoon sun, hot on your cheek, as you kiss your lover in the park.

I would have sliced you like a master sushi chef slices the fish, finely and expertly, across the grain to release the flavour. Because how can I use one word to explain how I feel about two different people? Each love is its own animal: one has horns, one has scales, one can’t even walk, the other can fly.

There would be a special word for the dark, dangerous love, the insatiable and voracious burning for the lover who does not treat you well. And there would be a word for when that love shatters. When it becomes instantly clear that you cannot feel what you have been feeling for someone who would hurt you so willingly.

And for Jason, who put a bullet in his brain a year ago, there would be a word for the love that I have wrapped up specially for him and sent back in time so that he could breathe it in with his last breath. So that he could know that even in that darkest time he was loved, and not alone. Because I believe love is a time machine and can cut across the grain of time to find the ones who need it most. Even if it changes nothing. It changes everything.

Where is the word for the love that strikes so suddenly, with excruciating brilliance, lasting only a split second but leaving ripples and sparks that bounce around the edges of your vision and make everything glow?

I need a word for the love love, The One, the one that is the one after the last the one. Because when you love like I do you know there’s bound to be a few. But they cannot be numbered sequentially. Each must be the one. Not the two.

If I had written you, love, and all your compatriots, I would have been sure to include a word for the feeling of being without someone whose presence makes you possible. The person whose love has stripped you of all the other versions of you and left you naked and gleaming and new. There must be a word for that gaping lack, when the words ‘I miss you’ fall so short of the need for expression that they lose meaning. But twined with that missing, that ache of the phantom limb, or phantom heart, is the deep calm, gratitude and happiness of just knowing that that person exists on the other side of the world. And you will see them again. Where is the word for that?

And what of the love for friends, old and new, the friend you only know for a weekend, whose presence in your life leaves an indelible mark?

And the love for your hero? The author or musician with whom you once shook hands? Where is the word for the feeling that springs up in the space between your palms as you touch, a divine creativity that spreads through you and flows out and follows you home and inspires you to write your own words or melodies?

Most of all I want a word for that feeling that happens when you are alone, completely alone, and just totally at peace. Feeling everything at once, and nothing in particular. Fleeting moments in a whirlwind life.

But I also want a word for how I feel about food. How it makes me dance and sing. A word for the soaring satisfaction of getting what you want and loving it so deeply and viscerally, because you are eating it and it is now inside you.

Love, were you my creation, I would have written words for the feelings about books, and art, and knowledge. Because those feelings are all love, but each is unique and sublime and cannot be compared to the others.

And what about the words of love for cats, and squirrels, and platypuses, and spiders, and snakes? And the night sky, and trees, and rust? And the abiding love for humanity when it is at its best, in its search for knowledge, in caring for others, or exploring the cosmos?

‘What do you love more?’ they ask. I do not love things all the same. But it’s not a question of more or less; it’s a question of texture, or flavour, or light.

Love, you are all of these things. And more. And more. And yet, love, you have been stripped of meaning by being used, overused, abused, tweeted, linked, liked and clicked on.

So how is it that I can say ‘love’ after all the hundreds, thousands of times I have said it, tweeted it, linked it, liked it? How can I say it and have it still feel true?

Each time renewed.

Love, if I had written you, and all your siblings, all the words we would need to know to express ourselves, our language would be stuffed to bursting with a specialised vocabulary. And maybe we would understand love better, but maybe we would be splitting ourselves. Compromising the structural integrity of a concept too important to be divided.

Love, what if I was wrong?

If I had written you, I would not split you. I would not slice you up. You are the gorgeous fractal that has guided my life. A million billion meanings, more than all the stars. Love, you are already split and fractured with every utterance of your name, and yet whole, just as you are.

Love,
Kim

This letter appears in the book, Airmail: Women of Letters.

We Are All Bowie Now

bowie

First I saw the reactions. Then I saw the news.

Then my heart bloomed grief.

I was surprised and not surprised by my level of shock and sadness. Surprised because I am not usually much affected by celebrity deaths and what I am experiencing is real grief. And yet I am not surprised because that shining creature, most beautiful artist, longest burning star in our galaxy of pop… is gone.

Goodnight, sweet Bowie.

For many years I didn’t know how much I loved Bowie. He was there, like the sun, giving life, shining on us all, inspiring thousands of artists and works of art in every musical genre and across the spectrum of visual arts; film and fashion and more. He was the prettiest boy and the handsomest lady. He was the snaggle-toothed, glitter-soaked, clear-eyed, gender-fluid deity that opened a fabulous door that millions of us born later got to walk through – only having to hear the stories that the door had once been closed tight.

Because he was always there we thought he would always be there. Or if not always, then at least forever.

David Bowie was a creature of Earth, fantastically alien and strikingly human at once, but flesh and bone and bits of stars like all of us. We live in a world that created David Bowie and that recognized him and celebrated him. We still live in that world. This world.

This world still creates people as rare and unique and wonderful and talented as David Bowie. Not everyone will be given the platform or the chance to shine as brightly as he did. Maybe no one ever will again. But the beauty and fierce creativity is all around us. Find it in yourself. Cherish it in others. Celebrate it always.

Bowie is gone.

And yet not gone. We lived in his incandescent glow for so long that he is part of who we are.

We are all Bowie now.

A Renewal of Excitement

I started recording my next album last week. I wasn’t sure I was ready. Maybe I needed more time? Maybe I was investing too much money too early? Maybe I wouldn’t be able to play my instruments? Maybe my songs suck?

But I put down my deposit and I kept the studio days. Just two of them to start. Two days for two songs.

I’m so glad I kept those days, believed in myself, in my new drummer, in the recording process.

I am excited again. So excited. More excited than I have been for years. Probably since recording my last album.

Creation is exhilarating. I feel so good. I keep listening to the songs on repeat. They’re the best.

These two songs have renewed my faith in art. My art.

My joy to create and play and share is my most precious commodity. That joy gets lost when I spend too much time promoting (an unfortunately necessary process if I want to fund my art) but it’s worth it, for this, for these songs. Yes.

If you also lose your joy when you promote, know you aren’t alone. Art sustains us, advertising drains us. Well… some of us. Others love the inverse.

But those of us who just want to make and make and make and share and share and share — we get lost in the *job* aspects of the independent artist’s life.

Don’t get lost.

Make art.

recording

The Next Album

Thanks to my successful Kickstarter campaign I am now in the studio recording my SPACE ALBUM! To be released March, 2013.

 

The first single:

 

 

Sign up to the email list to stay in touch and find out about releases and shows.

 

In Between Everything

Here I am in the midst of a performance reverie. Peaches was at this show in Berlin, she said I was intense. Intense is exactly what I want to be – along with everything else.

Here is something I’ve been thinking about:
Art happens in the space in between the viewer and the piece. The listener hears the space between the notes. The reader lives between the words. There is an undefinable, intangible, amazingly profound thing that happens. And we cannot see it, hear, touch it, taste it, or smell it. It happens beyond the senses, or maybe between them.

We work so hard to create these amazing works of art, symphonies and cathedrals and giant paintings, great novels, we work our whole lives to express something, to create something, that can only happen in the space in between. The artwork is not the art. Art is the incredibly personal relationship that cannot be expressed or defined.

We have art teachers, art critics, art industries. We can say a painting, a song, a book is technically good or bad; we can have subjective opinions, we can say, “Awesome!” or “Suck!” ; we can point at the thing and say yes, or no, but we cannot ever point at the art. Because art is the gap.

So why? Why bother? Why work so hard, use so many words, so much paint, learn how to play barre chords, when it isn’t the art that is the art?

Because what we make provides a structure, and structure defines space, and in the space the art happens. In a properly defined space, art can be perceived, however ephemerally, however fleeting, or intangible, or rarely. We build a a beautiful thing and the art comes to it.

We try to capture art, but it cannot be captured. If the thing that lives in the gap is not allowed to move freely it will wither and die very quickly. You see it all the time, an artist has some form of success, and repeats this over and over again, thinking to capture the inexplicable thing that happened the first time, only to find that the repetition has driven the art out of the thing completely.

This isn’t to say that repetition is always bad. Sometimes it is repetition that leads to the most amazing of artistic experiences. Repetition can be a form of discipline which can lead to a magnificent structure. What is bad is the stagnation and denial of movement. Trying to stay still in the moment that is already gone.

The experience of art, music, literature, is so fulfilling that we don’t want to be without it ever. Moments of pure feeling, that don’t necessarily have an emotion attached but can be any and all at once. It is a feeling of true understanding and belonging. What you understand or belong to cannot be explained. Open your mouth to say why and what you think/feel/know and the art, the gap, the bright, living thing in between everything, slips away.

And then we are empty. And we try to fill the space with something that resembles the thing that once filled that space. We try our own repetition. Like addicts we will do anything to fill the hole that art left.

But just as art is the gap, art is also the void. I am learning to live with the emptiness, not to give in to it, not to submit to a depression or a fear. And when I can be empty, without trying to stuff myself full of anything and everything, that is when my best work begins.

**

More photos from the Berlin show. (Photos by Jim Batt.)

And by the way, Peaches is intense.