The incomparable k.d. lang is coming to the Peabody Opera House on Friday, March 16th, and her fans are buzzing with excitement! #Boom Media recently had the chance to catch up with the out icon where local singer-songwriter and musician Kristen Goodman had the pleasure of conducting the phone interview with one of her most cherished music inspirations.

Kristen Goodman: Hi! Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me today!

k.d. lang: My pleasure.

KG: I’m a really big fan. It’s just an honor to speak with you. First of all, I want to thank you for being your authentic self all these years and dedicating yourself so passionately to so many important causes. You’ve been a truly inspirational figure for butch lesbian musicians like myself, and I’m just so grateful to you for your perseverance and your unapologetic authenticity.

k.d. lang: Well… (laughing) I don’t know what to say. Thank you very much.

KG: Well, it’s my pleasure. Congrats on the 25th anniversary of Ingénue, and also on the 25th anniversary of your coming out story in the Advocate. What accomplishment or achievement are you most of proud of from the last 25 years?

k.d. lang: I don’t know. I mean, obviously, being part of the LGBTQ evolution is a big part of my pride, although I’m just one small aspect of a huge movement. But, to contribute in my small way feels very rewarding. You know, I’m proud to be an artist. I’m proud to be a human being that tries every day to be a better human being.

KG: Well, I’d say you’re definitely more than a small part of the movement, so thank you for that. Certainly WE’RE proud of you for that! So, I have a band that’s a women’s folk-rock tribute, and we named it after my initials, but also a tribute to you: it’s called kg lang. We cover some of your songs, and we’re looking forward to learning more. So, I’m curious to know what your personal favorites are among the songs you’ve recorded.

k.d. lang: Oh, man, I don’t know. That’s kind of a moving target. My reflection and my taste changes from time to time. Sometimes I’m in a country mood, and sometimes I’m in a ballad mood. So, I don’t know, it changes. What kind of genres does your band play?

KG: We play a lot of folk-rock acoustic. It’s myself on voice and acoustic guitar, we have percussion and keys, and three-part harmonies. So, we like to do stuff that features a lot of great harmonies, so your songs are awesome for that, of course. And, you know… Indigo Girls, Melissa Etheridge, Sheryl Crow, Tracy Chapman… that kind of stuff.

k.d. lang: Uh huh. Yea, cool.

KG: Yea, so, you’ve collaborated with such a wide variety of artists in different genres over the years. How do you go about choosing the people with whom you collaborate, and are there any artists you hope to work with in the future?

k.d. lang: Other than case/lang/veirs, it’s really been life that has come and presented opportunities to me. I don’t really pursue collaborations other than Laura and Neko. I love the element of surprise and where life takes you. So, it kind of unfolds for me.

KG: That’s wonderful. So, you just see where it leads you for other collaborations. Great, well, your personal style has evolved a lot since the green cowboy suits in your early career, (laughing) and you’ve taken a lot of risks when it comes to clothing. What elements do you consider when you’re selecting a look for an upcoming show or an album cover or an event? Because I know you’ve been known to make a statement with your look.

k.d. lang: Yea, if I have inspiration and the energy to do so… Obviously with the Ingénue Redux Tour, I wanted to make a slight nod to the way I was dressing back then, and yet bring it forward and hopefully more mature. (laughing) So, yea, I put a lot of effort into clothing when I have the inspiration. It’s an aesthetic extension of my music, I think. I’ve had a lot of fun with clothing. But I guess in recent years, I think of clothing less, and I think as I get older, what becomes more and more important to me is authenticity of delivery. And all the other sort of materialistic extended exterior aspects of performance falls away. What’s really important to me is presence and honesty and truth in my singing. So, that’s kind of been the direction of where my aesthetic style has headed.

KG: Absolutely. That makes a lot of sense. So, I’ve been told that this is a good question to ask those who have achieved a lot of success. So, I’m curious to know… When did you consider yourself a success? Was it a particular award you received, or a hit record, or an appearance you made on a particular large venue?

k.d. lang: Well, I can only speak from my personal experience, but I assume that other artists experience what I experience which is a divine dissatisfaction that you never do feel quite satisfied. There’s always something to reach for, although, again, as I get older, I feel less and less motivated by accomplishing. I feel pretty satisfied with my journey, and I don’t feel I have anything to prove anymore. I may still have offerings or gestures of appreciation through music. But I don’t know if that ever can be answered- when one feels successful. I guess maybe posthumously would be the best time to ask that question.

KG: (laughing) Well, hopefully we’ll meet up posthumously, and I can ask you.

k.d. lang: Alright! (laughing)

KG: So, I know you’ve done a lot of work as an activist, and you’ve received backlash because of your stance on issues like human rights and animal rights. What advice would you have for artists who are concerned with how their political opinions may impact their careers, and how did that maybe play into your approach?

k.d. lang: I guess firstly, I don’t really believe in giving advice because I think that people don’t really want advice. (laughing) And, it doesn’t really do any good. Secondly, I would say that if you were to embark in a political cause or any sort of cause that it would have to be with pure motivation. I think it would have to be an extension of your true authentic beliefs. You’re going to be challenged no matter what. So, I would say you need a strong foundation, and to not have concrete solidity on any issue. Stay open to the possibility that you may change your mind, and that you may be enlightened to other people’s feelings and perspectives. Because I think when we get locked into an ideal is when ignorance fosters. So, I think it’s important to stay open to being wrong.

KG: Definitely. So, it seems like your role as an artist and an activist has sort of worked hand-in-hand. Would you say that’s true?

k.d. lang: Well, I think my activism really stems from my life choices. You know, I didn’t necessarily choose to be a lesbian, it’s who I am. And vegetarianism and my political beliefs are just the way I live my life. I think the nature of being in the public eye has brought those to the forefront. So, it’s just like I was saying, to reiterate… If you’re going to be an activist, make sure it’s your truth.

KG: Absolutely, yea. Well, I’ll say again that we are grateful for the fact that you’ve been living your truth for as many years as you have as a public figure. It’s definitely helped our movement... I’m looking forward to seeing you perform at the Peabody Opera House on March 16th! The last time I saw you perform was more than a decade ago at the Sheldon, so I am definitely overdue!

k.d. lang: Yea, it’s been a while for St. Louis. I’m excited!

KG: Yea, we are very excited, as well! There’s a lot of buzz about it already. What are a some of your favorite venues you’ve played throughout the world?

k.d. lang: The Olympia in Paris, The Majestic in San Antonio. Some of my favorite venues are the crazy, little ones like the Majestic… Some of the big iconic ones don’t always end up on the list - you know, the Sydney Opera House is a big one, and Radio City Music Hall… I remember one in Austin, Texas called Liberty Lunch. It was a crazy kind of old warehouse thing with no roof, just walls. That was a really fun venue. There’s been so many great venues. The folk festivals are always really fun, especially the Canadian ones. They’re very special. Up in the North in the Summer.

KG: Are there any on your bucket list that you haven’t hit yet?

k.d. lang: One of my bucket lists is to return to Royal Albert Hall in London. That’s where I played the original Ingénue, and I’ve always really appreciated that theatre.

KG: So, what’s on the horizon for you? What new projects do you have in the works that you might be able to share with us?

k.d. lang: No new projects. Just living my life. Enjoying what life is bringing me.

KG: That’s wonderful. Any future Portlandia appearances? (laughing)

k.d. lang: (laughing) Not that I know of.

KG: Well, Thanks again. I won’t take up too much more of your time. But it’s truly been an honor, especially as an up-and-coming lesbian singer and musician like myself… to get an opportunity to chat with you is just a real honor. So, thank you so much for inspiring so many people through your music and through your truth. I can’t wait to see you in March!

k.d. lang: Yea, me too. Thank you, and good luck with your band.

Concert photography by Matt DuBoff



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