If there is any doubt Kate Reid marches to her own beat, a quick glance at her photo provides the answer. The nose ring is a solid clue, as are the unlaced purple Converse high-tops and knee-high Pippi Longstocking socks. But it’s the hair — an unmistakable shock of flame-red that shoots skyward from the Mohawk she has worn since 2006 — that provides the clearest sign. This 42-year-old Vancouver folk singer shatters notions of age, gender and a whole lot more.
"She’s a giggling, fire breathing, rasping, crooning singer with an out-and-out (and out) laugh in the face of the historic, overdone, and cliched . . . ," wrote Boff Whalley in the U.K.'s Rock 'N' Reel Magazine last year.
In fact, she has built a career out of challenging society's cliched stereotypes. As an openly gay singer-songwriter, activist and musical comedienne, Reid is a pioneer in the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community and has just released her fourth, most important album to date — Queer Across Canada. “It’s doing great,” said Reid, during a brief phone interview Tuesday to promote her upcoming concert at The Grind Coffee House.
Queer Across Canada is a collection of 17 songs that reflect the stories of queer families. Reid composed the album after interviewing dozens of queer parents, queer kids and straight kids of queer couples — 74 in all. And the ambitious project didn't end in the recording studio. Reid, a former schoolteacher, is developing an educational kit to accompany the CD. She also plans to incorporate the album into her master’s studies, which she begins at UBC this fall. “I want to study the impact of queer-positive folk songs on students in schools and sort of study how it impacts their level of understanding and acceptance of LGBT families,” she said.
It’s one of the reasons why Reid is coming to Kamloops next week. She’s scheduled to present at the B.C. Teachers’ Federation summer conference, which starts on Tuesday at Thompson Rivers University. Her presentation will give teachers an introduction to the Queer Across Canada project and the accompanying educational kit. (The CD and kit will eventually be packaged as a resource for schools.)
In the meantime, her concert at The Grind is a bonus for her fans, who have waited almost two years for her return to Kamloops. “I’m excited about coming back to Kamloops,” said Reid. “I hope people come to the show; I love being on tour.”
Queer Across Canada (self released):
Whadda gal. Goes from Stand-up Folkie (I’m Just Warming Up) to Shepherding Activist (Doing It For The Chicks) to Social Educator (Queer Across Canada) all within the span of three albums -faster than the time it would take you or I to change a futzed fuse.
But that’s the point. Always the brightest bulb in the box, incandescent Kate wasn’t whistling in Dixie when she said she was just getting started ’cause even then she had a far-flung audio agenda of acceptance in mind that’s finally come to full-blown fruition on her latest long player, which is nothing less than an informative curriculum of facts and a sonic support group.
Vocally, Kate’s pipes are in fine fettle and equally as emotive whether she’s breaking the verbal speed limit on “The Mothers’ Day / Fathers’ Day Conundrum” or getting down with a funkified cover of the venerable Sister Sledge unity anthem “We Are Family.” Musically, Kate breaks new ground by adding an expertly arranged plethora of horns; woodwinds; strings; and choir, all to good effect—especially during the more introspective passages which’ll have you daubing your eyes.
Much has been made of the charm which radiates throughout her albums—and rightly so, because Kate’s refreshing sense of humor has always been the spoonful of sugar that makes the tolerance go up. And while Queer Across Canada is no exception to that rule, Kate admirably aspires to up the ante by taking her message of love out of the intangible ether and into the physical classroom where, like any life lesson worth learning, it can be rationally discussed and expertly applied without censure.
Vancouver-based comedy star hits the road with Queer Across Canada
Known for humorous ditties like The Only Dyke at the Open Mic, Kate Reid sets her sights on non-traditional families on her new album Queer Across Canada. The Ontario-born, Vancouver-based Reid, who has an education degree at the University of B.C. and has worked with youth for the last 20 years, interviewed more than 70 people as part of research for the project. The 42-year-old singer lives in the Westside with her partner and two cats.
Q: You interviewed over 70 people for this album.
A: Yes, 74 people, including families. The youngest I interviewed was a four-year-old, and then her moms of course. The oldest person was probably in their 60s. But the oldest child of queer parents was a 39-year-old woman. So quite a range of people.
Q: Were there any direct quotes from those interviews that made it into the lyrics?
A: I interviewed a couple of young men, their dad came out after having been married to a woman. They separated and a few years later there was going to be a family meeting and the one son told me he remembers thinking, “What could this meeting be about — are they getting back together, did someone die, maybe dad’s gay.” Then he thought, “No no, he’s not cool enough to be gay. He’s this normal person, not like the gay guys I see on TV.” And that phrase “he’s not cool enough to be gay” really stuck with me, so I built a song around that (Cool Enough to Be Gay).
Q: Is this the first time you did research before making a record?
A: Yes. I didn’t grow up in a queer family so I didn’t know what it was like to have queer parents. I really wanted to capture that. I usually write songs about my life, and my other albums have been more about my experiences. But I really felt like I wanted to give kids and youth a voice about what it’s like to have queer parents. When I became part of my partner’s family — she has two children from a previous marriage with a woman — we’d have these conversations about the challenges they face at school with having two lesbian moms. The son was teased about it and the daughter doesn’t really talk about it. It made me think, There are no songs out there that speak to kids who have two mommies or two dads versus a mom and dad.
Q: It seems there aren’t a lot of songs out there for kids coming from that experience.
A: It was important for me to give voice to that. Kids growing up in queer families have to deal with homophobia too, and in ways I never thought about before. They just come into it, and all of a sudden they have to face this stuff. It raises all these questions. Our son talked about how he was teased for having two moms, and they’d say “how come you don’t have a dad?” And he would say “I have dad, I have a donor dad.” And the kids would tease him, calling it a “doughnut dad.” (laughs).
Q: Bullying has become a hot-button topic. As an educator, why do you think it’s taken this long for it be outed as a societal problem?
A: People have been afraid to address it. A lot of the time we don’t know how to address that kind of thing, we don’t have the tools to deal with it, to follow up and even support victims. A lot of that’s happening now; school boards are figuring out how to deal with these things. When I was in high school, people just lived with it. It was just part of people’s lives. There’s so much of it in the world. We work so hard with our kids on the issue but they see adults bullying each other. It’s not like the adult world is a good model for anti-bullying.
Q: You recently tweeted you’re excited about the Vancouver Folk Festival because of Natalie Maines.
A: Yeah, she’s awesome. I’m a Dixie Chicks fan, I’m a Natalie Maines fan. I loved what they did with that album (2006’s Taking the Long Way), how they turned that whole situation with that comment she made about Bush (“We’re ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas”), how they turned that around. They made this incredible album and then got five Grammys for it. I loved how she did what she felt. So I’m excited to go see her.
Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/Kate+Reid/8483668/story.html#ixzz2aeXnNyaC
Singer Kate Reid says her new youth-oriented CD and school tour is the most important work she's ever done.
Seven years have passed since the release of her first solo CD, Comin' Alive, and in that time, outspoken queer musician Kate Reid has been charming and challenging audiences with songs that run the rainbow gamut. Since her debut, Reid has garnered such a hugely supportive fan base that her listeners have pledged seed money to fund her subsequent releases. When she came up with the idea of creating an album for both queer youth and youth of queer parents, friends and fans pitched in.
Reid says her new CD, Queer Across Canada, was inspired by subjects close to home, specifically her partner's two kids.
"I wanted to write an album that speaks to their stories and the stories of kids growing up with queer parents."Reid interviewed more than 70 children of queer parents, ranging in age from four to 39, then turned their stories into songs.
From its initial form as a CD, the scope of the project kept expanding, the singer and former schoolteacher says. "It was just initially a plan to make an album, and then I got this idea: 'Oh, these songs can be used as tools; I should make a teaching resource out of it!'" True to her word, Reid takes a moment out of her six-week tour of Ontario high schools - where she's been singing songs from her new CD such as "Boys Who Wear Dresses," "Radical Donor Dad" and a cover of "We Are Family" - to do this interview.
The natural levity in her voice grows more solemn as she discusses the tour, the project and its effect on her life.
"I've been doing a lot of crying on this tour, lots of outpouring of emotion," she says. "The feedback I've gotten from high school kids and teachers has been so incredible, and I just want to continue on with that.
"This is the most important work that I've been doing, because there is such a need, and because kids want to hear stories from people that are different. They want to have their minds expanded; they want to be accepting," she says. "It feels really important and really huge."
Everything Under the Rainbow with Kate Reid.
Local folk singer Kate Reid’s new album, Queer Across Canada, dropped two weeks ago. It’s a major departure from her usual work in that it’s an album specifically for kids. The Peak sat down with her and talked about the new album, homophobia, sex, and more.
What motivated you to write an album like Queer Across Canada for kids and LGBT families?
Part of why I wanted to do this, what was really the cementing piece, was having a conversation with [my partner] Maike’s kids. She has a boy named Ben who’s 13 now, but was a lot younger at the time, and Jessica, who is now 10. [Both] would talk about some of the stuff they faced with their peers when they said they have two moms, and other kids say “How, how is that possible? What do you mean you had two moms? How come you don’t have a daddy? How do two moms have kids?”
Ben’s answer to one of the kids was “I do have a dad, I have a donor dad.” The kids don’t understand what that means and so he had to explain. Then they start teasing him, calling names such as “donut dad,” which in grade three is pretty traumatic, to have someone call your dad a donut dad. [Another experience came from] Jessica, talking about having to make two cards for Mother’s Day and not doing that for Father’s Day, sort of deciding, “Well, who do I make a Father’s Day card for?”
Those kinds of conversations [got me] thinking, “You know, they don’t have any songs that talk about their lives, that speak to their families that they can see themselves reflected in.” All the songs for young people and kids are like, “mommy / daddy,” so I wanted to write songs for them. I wanted to give voice to their stories, and so that’s what started me on it.
So then I started thinking, “I want to interview kids growing up in queer families,” because queer kids are subjected to homophobia, but so are kids of queer families even though they might not identify as queer. That’s another strain of homophobia kids can be subjected to, so that was the impetus for the album.
In an interview with Steven Quinn from “On the Coast,” you talked about your background in education and how that factored into making the kit that comes with Queer Across Canada. What is your background in education?
In terms of my own teaching background, I got a teaching degree in 2000. I had an arts undergrad and then I got a teaching degree. I taught for about seven years full time before I became “the musician” (she laughs).
I did three years of teaching in the interior. The first year of teaching I was in the closet. I was in Midway, for fuck’s sake. Its a small freaking town, like 600 people. I’m not going to come out in this town, I was freaked out.
It was really interesting for me to date a woman who lived in another town; I would go to visit her on weekends and nobody knew about my life. I was not really integrated in the social fabric of Midway, and because I was in the closet and I didn’t really make good friends with the teachers.
In the second year, when my girlfriend and I broke up, I started dating a male gym teacher at the high school, my social life just opened up. Suddenly I didn’t have to be afraid, I didn’t have to be in the closet, and I started to talk about, you know, I did have a girlfriend, because now it was okay. Now I had the safety of being in a heterosexual relationship, so it was such an eye opener from me to go from one extreme from the other.
So then I taught for another year, afterwards took another year off and then I moved here, and I worked on the sub-list in Vancouver for about four years before quitting to try to do music full time.
A lot of your earlier work was more personal narrative or introspective. Was it hard for you to write from such a different perspective and doing a lot more interview work?
No, it wasn’t, actually. It was a lot of fun because when I was doing the interviews, it was really fascinating to hear people stories. I love the interview process — it was really cool. When I was doing it I was always looking for that little gem, that little phrase that I could turn into a song or that could be the title of a song.
For instance, “Tummy Mummy,” that was a phrase that this one particular family had used to describe the birth mother of their daughter, and that’s what I built that song around. How can you not write a song around that? It’s so cute!
Another song, “Cool Enough to Be Gay” was written because there were two mid-teen boys, and one of them was explaining how, when his parents called for a family meeting, he was worried about it and he was going to his mom’s house and was wondering, “What is this going to be about? Did someone die? Is someone getting divorced or are they getting back together? Is mom pregnant?”
On the way home, he’s trying to figure out all the possible reasons they’re going to have this big meeting for, and his thought was like, “maybe dad’s gay . . .” but sort of thought to himself “no, he’s not cool enough to be gay.” I just thought that that was the gem of the interview. That’s hilarious. It was fun. People say interesting stuff. The anecdotes...it was really cool to turn that into song. It was actually sort of fun, you know, I wasn’t writing about myself for once so it was a nice break.
Doing It For The Chicks’ “Ain’t No Drama Queen” talks about your eperience with internalized homophobia. Did that come up for you while working on Queer Across Canada?
Yeah, it comes up for me a lot. In particular I remember writing that song because whenever I go into a studio, everytime I’ve gone in — I don’t know if I remember it in the first album because I was working with a woman, she was a lesbian, so I don’t know if that was why — but I’ve worked with two different [guys named] Adam and they were both straight, but I’d have this feeling of, “Oh, my songs are so gay. Why am I writing all of this gay stuff? All of this queer material?”
I would just have this negative thought process start happening, you know, enough with the gay stuff already, and I’m playing my songs for the first time and I’m thinking in my head: “What are they going to think about this song?” I’m worried that it’s too queer, or just not legit because it’s queer.
So, “Ain’t No Drama Queen” came up because I was having that feeling really strongly that particular week when I was in a recording studio in Toronto, and I was feeling really down on myself about it, about writing about this stuff, wondering what I was doing this for again, how many times can you sing this stuff about being queer? It turns out there’s a lot of stuff you can sing about being queer. It’s the lens that I look through, or that I write though. I find that it comes up in different ways and sometimes in really big ways and sometimes in small ways.
As I move through my life, the more I sing about it, the more I write about it, the less that stuff comes up. But I do have internalized homophobia. I mean, I do around my family. Sometimes I go home and I think, “Oh, I’m too much, I’m too out there, I’m too queer, I’m too activist, too . . . much! Too much queer already, stop it!” But when I’m with my friends, that’s what we talk about. We talk about our issues, we talk about what it’s like to be queer in the world so it feels okay.
It was kind of funny, I [was] kind of [feeling] bad because it’s the sex issue, but I really wanted to do this because I wanted queer content, but then I think, “Is it too gay? Are people going to think it’s not well related?” Everything you’re saying . . . I totally get that, but then I have to be like “fuck that.”
No, totally fuck that. Nobody ever says “oh that’s too straight.” Nobody ever says, “oh, the stuff on the radio is too heterosexual.” Well, queers are saying that, but heterosexual people don’t. And nobody ever questions if “there’s too many love songs on the radio about men and women hooking up.”
I’ve written a similar song based on a similar topic, called “Uncharted Territory,” because some of my friends on my first album said “you sing too much about being lesbian, enough already,” and I had a reviewer say that too about my music. She said something like, “there were two songs on the album that were complete duds, it was starving artist and I’d go straight for Ridley Bent”, and then she said, “Yeah, we know you’re a dyke, we get it, enough already.”
That was in the review, and I felt like saying, “Fuck you!” and then I had some friends say “Well why do you sing so much about it?” Somebody has to. We have to do this and it’s important to me and it’s part of who I am, it’s my identity. Nobody ever says that to straight singers. “Why do you sing about your boyfriend all the time?” You know what I mean?
[When people ask] “Why do you have to sing queer songs? Can’t you just sing something that’s more mainstream?” [that] just means more straight or not identifying my queerness, and I get what [they’re] saying. But that’s not what I’m here to do. If I wanted to write a song like that, I would’ve fucking written it four albums ago. Enough already, people. Don’t you get it? This is what I’m doing.
There’s lots of queer artists that are making it big and some of their material is questionably queer. Do you think the music industry is actually getting more accepting, or is it just getting more marketable?
I think the first part happens first and then the second part happens. I think the music industry is finally figuring out there’s a whole ‘nother audience out there that they can service and make money from, and I think queer, obviously, is becoming more accepted and filter into the mainstream. I don’t watch TV, but I hear about shows like Modern Family, and Glee.
I mean we had Will and Grace in the 90s but I think in some ways queer is becoming a little bit trendy, maybe? And they’re figuring out how to market that because we’re different than we were 20 years ago. Not different, but out there. I guess it’s becoming more part of the mainstream, and more marketable because there’s an audience for it. Young people are out more than they were. Queer families are more visible, and I think the music business has kind of seen that’s something they can work with.
Do you get less of the “why so much gay content?” reviews now as opposed to when you first started?
I only got a few of those kind of reviews, “she just happens to be a lesbian.” Most people who review my music get it. They get that it’s actually not just about being queer, they get that that’s a lens that I write through, but that I actually am a human being and I write from a human being’s perspective. I just happen to be whatever I happen to be writing from a queer place. Most reviewers are intelligent enough to understand that. There’s that one guy and that one woman who didn’t really see that.
How does humour factor into your work?
That’s where the universal human being-ness comes into my work. I identify as being queer, as a lesbian, but I can also laugh at myself and the way I am in the world and the way the world is, and make fun of these things, and for me that was the bridge into roping in a more mainstream audience. If we have the ability to laugh at ourselves, I think that’s appealing to people no matter how we identify. For me humour was a good tool for that, I saw that as a way to bridge that between the queer community and the non-queer community.
What’s it like for you on stage when you get you first bout of laughter from the audience? Is there a difference in the way it feels?
Yeah, it makes me realize “oh, this is going to be a good show, they get it, they understand it, they’re with me,” and the times when they don’t, I just think “I have to work harder here.”
Again, off of Doing It For The Chicks, the title track was written in response to a guy’s concerns over your “lifestyle” because he was hosting a concert in his house. It seems like the unspoken concern is always that two people of the same sex are having sex. How much do you think fear over the unknown factors into responses like that when it comes to homophobia?
What I wanted to do with this album was play around people’s fears around the sex piece. It is the part that, as soon as you say you’re lesbian or gay, they automatically think about you with a same sex partner, and people think about you being in bed with that person. I think it’s just an automatic thing that happens in the brain. Whereas you talk to a woman who says my husband, people just don’t go there. We’re so used to it, but I think because of people’s fears around queernes, that’s where they automatically jump to.
It becomes the focus of people’s homophobia because they can’t imagine that that’s OK or normal, or loving, or that it’s actually OK to love somebody of the same sex. They forget that, aside from our sexual relationships and our intimate relationships, we go to work, we have kids, we have problems, we have money issues, we have communication problems, we love to go hiking — we do all these things that everybody else does, except we have same sex partners.
That’s the part of queerness that people are uncomfortable with, the sexual piece, because it’s different than what they do, or maybe it’s something they want to do but they’re too afraid to try, it taps into their own homophobia, it taps into their fantasy that they don’t want to admit to — all of those things.
What was it like working with C.R. Avery?
It was great, I think C.R. Avery is a brilliant artist. He’s a lot of fun in the studio, I love his beatboxing, I love his wordplay. A couple of times when we were just hanging out at his house, we were talking about doing a piece about bullying and the queer youth suicide stuff, and he said, “I really want to get into that issue and really do something powerful around that.” And I said that would be great, so in the studio, Adam [the bass player on Queer Across Canada] came up with this bass line, and gave it to C.R. who wrote this piece about it.
He wrote the piece for Mother’s Day / Father’s Day Conundrum, which I totally love, but then he wrote this other totally separate thing about this bullying and queer youth suicide, he flipped it and made it — I think he called the song “The Drag Queen Vigilante” — about how drag queens go around killing bullies. They basically retaliate, and kill the bullies and throw them in the back of the hearse. It’s a great piece, it’s amazing, but I thought,“it’s not good for a kid’s album.” I wanted to, and I thought about it, but it . . . it doesn’t work for this album. Maybe a different album. He does amazing stuff.
Did you approach him, or did someone suggest him for doing this?
No, I approached him. I wanted to have him on the album. I’d been thinking about it for quite a while, and I wanted him to do a spoken word piece and some beatboxing, so yeah it was cool, and he was keen — it was great. I kept running into him in various places, like the airport, and conferences, and I was like, “I want to have you on my next album!” and so it finally came together.
The song “Ex-Junkie Boyfriend” reflects on a much younger you and the guy you were living with. Obviously you’ve changed a lot since then. If you could give the you in that song three pieces of advice, what would they be?
I don’t think I would give myself any advice, because I did exactly what I needed to be doing at the time. I don’t regret being with him. I learned a lot in that relationship about myself. He was, y’know, besides the drugs and some of the stuff, we did have some fun. He taught me a lot about living on the coast, about Vancouver, about some books that I thought were interesting and I didn’t know anything about.
I [believe] that we have to go through what we have to go through, and to go back and change something, if I could, I don’t know if I would because I needed to go through that stuff with him in order to understand what I wanted and didn’t want in my life. I always think that relationships are for learning about ourselves and about how to become better people in the world, and I was really young at the time. I was in my early 20’s. I was having fun! I wanted to do the drugs, too, sure! But it got to a point where it was like, “this is not what I want to be doing anymore.”
I learned a lot about myself, and I learned a lot about how I look to other people for my own sense of self, and that was when I was starting to realize that I was doing that in relationships with men. That it was me trying to cultivate a sense of self and some self-confidence through them not on my own. My advice? I don’t have any for myself back then. It brought me to where I am today, it gave me a great song, and I don’t regret it.
- See more at: http://www.the-peak.ca/2013/06/everything-under-the-rainbow-with-kate-reid/#sthash.INHdyDQy.dpuf
Haven’t we had enough of CD sleeves featuring artists dripping with bling, smoking cigars and surrounded by handfuls of fawning girls in skimpy clothes? Yes, but (stifled laughter) here come Kate Reid doing just that-oh yes, satire is alive and well and is now a Canadian lesbian touting sticky-up hair, a bagful of great songs and a parodied record sleeve. I make no excuses for mentioning Kate’s sexuality-she’s a giggling, fire breathing, rasping, crooning singer with an out-and-out (and out) laugh in the face of the historic, overdone, and cliched heterosexual love song. The title track here is a gorgeously clever statement of intent: ‘I’m on a divine plan to convert you all/To the dark side of the bedroom’. Doing it for the Chicks is a mix ‘n’ match blend of Kate Reid’s sexual politics, humour, smart rhymes and pop-country slick production-I can’t help hoping that the A&R gleam of some of the songs might allow them to slip onto mainstream radio and wake a few people up. And in case any of you same-sex couples are planning a wedding (or civil partnership-don’t want to upset the conservatives) you will want to get on the phone to Kate and invite her over to sing ‘Tie One On and Tie the Knot’, her very own good-time wedding song: ‘Tonight we’re going to celebrate, kick up our boots, get lubricated/Then we’ll consummate and we’ll try our damnedest to procreate.” - Boff Whalley, (Chumbawumba), Rock 'N' Reel Magazine, UK
The third CD from Kate Reid begins with a bang by telling the fabulous story-in-song of Captain Cupcake. He drives a tug boat and is a total rough-neck cross-dresser who hangs out in a sketchy Nanaimo bar, where he successfully proposes marriage to the hot server. That's just for starters. Then we are off on the usual Kate Reid emotional rollercoaster ride, from chuckles at the nuttiness of My Baby's in the Beer Tent Again and the sly humour of Closet Femme; to the awe of Crying Holy and the indignation of Revolution. Although she is an out and out lesbian, and writes very much from that perspective, her material has a much broader appeal because it concerns universal issues like social justice, human unity, tolerance, justice and love. Oh and -just in case it is ever forgotten - the tunes are great and she is a brilliant singer as well. Stylistically there's a stronger country-folk and bluegrass influence compared with her two previous releases. There's an evident arc of development running through all three of her CDs, which traces her growth from Comin' Alive as she emerged from her protective shell, to I'm Just Warming Up where she began to flex her muscles, to the all out vibrancy, brazen cheeked satire and righteous biting polemic which runs in a rich vein throughout Doing it for the Chicks. The cover wittily portrays Kate surrounded by adoring women, in a tongue-in-cheek parody of those dreadful gangsta rap album covers. It's what's inside that really counts however...and what's inside is very good.
Lock up your daughters-lesbian folkie Kate Reid is back with her third release, Doing it for the Chicks. Reid is a decent guitar player but, as usual, it's her lyrics that really shine. Never shying away from quirky topics, Reid gives being gender queer its due on three of the album's 12 tracks. "Captain Cupcake and the Cambie Hotel" is a country toe-tapper about a "cross-dressing, tug-boating, roughneck from Nanaimo" whose feminine wiles win him the heart of the female bartender at the local watering hole. On "Closet Femme", another twanger, Reid outs herself as someone who, after work, likes to go home and slip on women's clothing-it's a funnny and hummable tune. Rounding out the trio of tunes is "When I Was a Little Boy", a tender ballad about the little boys that live inside a lot of girls. While she can skillfully hammer together a ballad, Reid's at her best when she's being joyously irreverent, as is the case with "My Baby's in the Beer Tent Again" and the title track, "Doing it for the Chicks". She is hilarious, whether detailing how a little liquid courage can turn an interoverted girlfriend on to a game of naked Twister or suggesting her ulterior motives for performing as a singer-songwriter to a roomful of Christains. Great fun.
I receive thousands of CDs per year, from all corners of the world, and also a lot of dull but worthy okay singer-songwriters. Kate Reid’s Doing It For The Chicks arrived unannounced from Canada, although one glance at the cover pic of Kate adopting the role of a rap artist adorned with suitable adoring ‘chicks’ suggested this was a performer who understood wit and irony. Listening to the album has confirmed all the promise of the cover. Pride, poignancy, power abound amongst carefully crafted gem after gem that don’t mince words but never preach. Kate Reid is uplifting, life-affirming and she’s a magnificent singer and writer of beautiful songs.
Canadian folk singer and songwriter Kate Reid has found inspiration in the most unlikely places. Take for example her chance meeting with a cross-dressing tugboat operator in a Nanaimo dive bar. “He came up and told me he loved my music,” recalls Reid. “He was an average-looking guy. He wasn’t dressed up in women’s clothing that night. I guess I have my own ideas sometimes of what certain people should look like and I was happy he challenged my notions of what a cross-dresser should look like.” When the fan told Reid he’d gotten married in a wedding dress, she knew she had to write a song about it. “I used the fact he was a cross-dresser and a tugboat driver and that he’d got married in a wedding dress as the basis and just drew the story around that,” says Reid. The track, Captain Cupcake and the Cambie Hotel, is one of many memorable and comical songs to be found on Reid’s third and latest album, Doing It For The Chicks.
The tongue-in-cheek title is illustrated by equally amusing cover art featuring a smug-looking, blinged-up Reid surrounded by a bevy of admiring beauties. As humourous as it is, Reid says the photo is also a comment on mainstream music and popular culture. “It’s a comment on society and how men objectify women,” she says. “And that’s the same with the title track as well.”
The Bowen Island-based lesbian artist is known for her sharp sense of humour, both in live performance and on CD (as such newer songs as My Baby’s In the Beer Garden Again and Closet Femme aptly demonstrate.) However, Reid is careful to balance the comedy with more serious subject matter. When I Was a Little Boy was written from the point of view of a transgender male, and in I Ain't No Drama Queen, Reid sings of the struggles the LGBTQ community still face.
She says it's these deeper, emotional songs she most often gets feedback on. “I get a a lot people telling me their coming out stories or telling me their families are homophobic,” says Reid, who grew up in a small, conservative town in Ontario and admits she hadn't even heard the word lesbian until she was in university. “I get serious e-mails from kids telling me that they were suicidal and thanking me for the music that I write and how important it’s been to them. I’m grateful they tell me those things. It does really inspire me to keep going. It compels me to write music because it's my goal to write songs that resonate with people. It’s nice to know that there are people out there who appreciate what I do.”
Canadian singer-songwriter Kate Reid is known for leaving her audiences laughing, crying and in some cases – depending on the crowd – sitting with a blank stare. “When I have to work with a more conservative crowd, it’s like, ‘OK it’s going to be one of those challenging nights where I really have to work for my pay,’” the folk singer said with a laugh. Reid is a fearless, Bowen Island-based, lesbian musician who uses comedy and storytelling to paint pictures of queer life. With songs like The Only Dyke at the Mic and I’d Go Straight for Ridley Bent, Reid is both bold and witty. She said using humour in songs can make queer issues and women’s issues more palatable for listeners, and it can also be a lot of fun.“It’s fun to have people laughing and seeing them enjoy the humorous things I talk about or sing about in my songs.”
Reid’s humour is undeniable, especially in the title track of her latest album, Doing it for the Chicks. It’s a satirical commentary on the music industry that depicts Reid as a misogynistic musician who’s in the business just for the chance at luring women into her bed. “I’m merely on a divine plan to convert you to the dark side of the bedroom,” she sings. “The music’s all just extra-curricular, I’m just doing it for the chicks.” The album cover follows the same theme, with Reid standing in the middle of a harem of gorgeous women, all of whom are fawning over her, as she stares directly into the camera. “Some people don’t get it,” Reid said about the statement she was trying to make. “Some people say it’s really hot. It’s not really supposed to be hot, even though it is. It’s supposed to be a statement. It’s supposed to be a comment on society and the music business and men and where they situate themselves in the world.” Reid said she didn’t set out to be political in her music, she just started writing about her own life and her own experiences, without taking into account what that meant. “I didn’t have a concept of like, ‘Oh, if I’m going to say the word lesbian or dyke in a song, that’s automatically going to put me into the arena of being an activist.’ It didn’t occur to me,” she said.
But now that she’s there, she has embraced the role, writing songs like Ain’t No Drama Queen, about the queer youth suicides that dominated the media in the fall of 2010, and Revolution, about violence against women. “Singing about queer issues and women’s issues and stuff like that, I feel very passionate about,” she said. “We’re still fighting. We still have lots of homophobia, we still have misogyny and sexism, you know, there’s still lots of work to be done.”
Reid is currently on a national tour in promotion of Doing it for the Chicks. She will be performing in Jasper at the Royal Canadian Legion Nov. 19. Playing with Reid will be Jeff Stuart and The Hearts, who are currently touring in support of their new album, Equal Parts Reason and Moonlight. Reid, who has played in a Jasper a few times, said she’s excited to come back. “I love the Legion. They have the best sound in Canada. The sound guy, Randal, he’s amazing. And Jasper’s fun. The people are laid back and they like to have a good time. They make my job easier.”
West coast singer-songwriter and self-styled “queer music activist” Kate Reid may be Doing It For The Chicks, as the title of her latest album goes, but women, or lesbians aren’t the only ones enjoying her tunes. “I’m very passionate about it,” she admits. “My core audience is definitely queer-based women but it also goes out to straight people because these subjects affect them too. The folk music community seems to be generally open-minded and social issues have always been part of what folk music is about. It’s about people regardless of their gender issues, race or whatever.”
Folk fans may recall seeing Reid at the 2010 Folk Fest. She’s hard to miss with her vertical shock of bright red hair and an unapologetically forward stage presence. Doing It For The Chicks has its share of chuckles on tracks like Captain Cupcake & The Cambie Hotel (inspired by a man with alternative clothing tastes), My Baby’s In The Beer Tent Again, and a rather ironic cover of Led Zeppelin’s Hotdog. Reid grew up in small-town Ontario and discovered the power of singing at church camp. After picking up guitar in high school she made her first performances in her dad’s cover band. Still, it was most of a decade before she started writing her own songs and found the courage to start performing them at open mike nights. In between, she took a degree in psychology at Guelph University and in 1994, moved out to British Columbia.
She credits artists like Ferron, Ani DiFranco and Indigo Girls as early influences who steered her to find her own voice while she was delving into themes of sexual identity and healing. Reid also worked to include humour in her songs from the beginning with her first album Comin’ Alive in 2006, and again on I’m Just Warming Up in 2009, the same year that she made music her full-time career. She feels her songwriting and production standards have matured a lot in the past five years and you can hear that on Doing It For The Chicks, which features a pack of expert support players from around Toronto alongside her own guitar, harmonica and exuberant vocals. Much of the album is upbeat, sometimes frantically funny, but there are serious moments too, and you don’t have to have to be a lesbian to enjoy it. “Whether they’re funny or very serious, I still like to write songs that talk about the truth, to keep that in the forefront and to be direct in saying what I want to say. The broader message is about humanity. I’m human too. I just happen to be a lesbian.”
SIZZLING PLATTER OF THE WEEK: Kate Reid – Doing It For The Chicks (self released)
If I threw out all the records in my collection that were recorded by homos, alkies, murderers, junkies, lunatics, adulterers, gypsies, tramps and thieves, I’d have nothing left to spin except my Pat Boone albums—and even they’d be suspect after he was seen in the company of Alice Cooper: a guy with a girl’s name, of all things.
Besides, I’ve got too many albums to burn even if I did want to torch them, which is why I rationalize my paucity of purification by reminding myself what a mortally wounded Lee Marvin sagely said at the end of The Killers after he plugged double-dealing Ronald Reagan and was about to perforate two-faced Angie Dickenson: “Lady, I don’t have the time.”
Well we may not have the time but it’s obvious that a whole host of others do, judging by the number of decadent discs which keep a-tumblin’ into my rock critic sin bin, including this latest licentious offering by Kate Reid. You may recall that I reviewed Kate’s debut disc I’m Just Warming Up a year ago in MB234—but if you don’t, I’ll reiterate for ya:
“With song titles like ‘The Only Dyke At The Open Mic’ and ‘Emergency Dyke Project,’ you can probably guess which side of the swingin’ gate country singin’ Kate is straddling. She’s got a brain as big as her heart and a good-natured sense of humor that’s even bigger. But don’t let her cheerful chirpy voice fool ya ’cause Kate’s nobody’s fool, nuh uh. That’s why she prefaces each set of lyrics in the booklet with insightful little explanations and relevant bits of advice like: ‘In mainstream pop culture, lesbianism is becoming a marketing tool to reach male audiences. Not good.’ Of course Kate’s right but, what with me bein’ a guy who still harbors eleventh hour Honor Blackman conversion fantasies, I’m not ashamed in the least to admit that talkin’ tales like ‘Ex-Junkie Boyfriend’ and ‘Truckdriver’ made me fall head over heels for her.”
That said, I was kinda hoping that my hyper-masculine review might switch Kate over but, wouldn’t you know it, not only has she remained stubbornly unchanged, the brazen hussy now has the nerve to actually use her latest tell-all album as a recruitment tool to conscript innocent sweet young things into her service, as evidenced by her oral offer on the title track wherein she actually admits: “I’m merely on a divine plan to convert you all to the dark side of the bedroom!”
Okay, I give up. Just like Kate, I know when I’m licked. So if you’re a skirt with your eye on some fresh lettuce you’re seekin’ to sway, go to Kate’s website and buy both of her albums. Together they’ll make the perfect box set—and so will the two of you, if you catch my drift.
Music Review: Kate Reid - Doing It For The Chicks
There's out, and then there's out. If you don't know Kate Reid is out after about 20 seconds of her CD, then you probably think The Indigo Girls are just too busy singing to settle down and find a nice husband. On her previous two discs, she's brought us such gems as "The Only Dyke At The Open Mic" and "I'd Go Straight For Ridley Bent", so it's not like you need the Rosetta Stone to decipher the lyrics. And yes, the songs are as funny as the titles.
Of course, there's the dead serious goal behind the tunes. Reid states on this disc that over the last few years she's been able to change her source material. At first she wrote for and about herself, but after being on the road, getting her music out and hearing back from so many Canadians, now she has their stories to tell. So we get to hear from real-life people across the country, and their own experiences with sexuality and society. The title cut is Reid's tongue-in-cheek response to a conservative guy hosting a house concert, and worried about her lifestyle and lyrics. "Tie One On & Tie The Knot" is her whoop-it-up matrimony song, for all the times she's been invited to sing at lesbian weddings. The best true story belongs to the titular character in Captain Cupcake & the Cambie Hotel, whom she met at a slightly dodgy gig in a rough Nanaimo bar. He turned out to be a cross-dressing tugboat captain, who ends up with the most stunning waitress in town. As Reid says about these real people,"I know you are out there, and I honour you."
Not all the tales she hears have a happy ending, or can be softened with funny title. "Revolution" is her protest song, for all the stories of male violence against women. "Forget the war on terror and all those other useless wars, too/What about this war on women/that's right in front of you?"
Humour Can Be Cathartic
The humour comes chuckling through the title track of her latest album, Doin' It For The Chicks. The title track is quite a bold statement. "Sometimes I get irritated with people's homophobia and I just wanted to write something snappy and bad assy and cathartic." said Reid. "That song is my cheeky response to those people who mudsling at the queer community. I'm so tired of hearing that stuff and I just thought well, here it is, it's back in your face -- what are you going to do with it now?"
The cover of Doin' It For The Chicks is a photo of Reid with a cigar in her hand, staring into the camera while a harem of pretty girls fawn all over her. "And the album cover makes me laugh every time I look at it!" A fan favourite is a song called Captain Cupcake and the Cambie Hotel. Reid said it's a long song but it tells a really good story.
When it comes to her style of music, which is telling a story to music, it lends itself to a captive audience. This is not the type of music people would have a conversation over, while Reid sings in the background. "Sometimes it's a curse and sometimes it's great because I want people to listen," said Reid. "It's just something that I hit upon. I like stories, I like descriptive stuff and I love words so I just had to fit it all together and syllabic rhyming is totally fun and I totally get off on it. Rhyming words is like fitting pieces into a big puzzle."
Reid came into performing later in life while she grew up with music all around I only started pursuing music as a career about five years ago," said the 40 year old. "Because in my 20s and 30s I was quite lost, I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life and I always had these dreams of making music but it never translated into real life for me because I couldn't imagine how it was going to happen."
It took quite a bit for Reid to gather up the courage to take a stab at the dream. "I didn't want to look back at my life and ask why I didn't try that?" said Reid.
It took quite a bit for Reid to gather up the courage to take a stab at the dream. "I didn't want to look back at my life and ask why I didn't try that?" said Reid.
Comic Singer in it for the Chicks
Songwriter Kate Reid penned a ditty after meeting a cross-dressing tugboat pilot at a tough Nanaimo bar.
Captain Cupcake and the Cambie Hotel is about a stiletto-heels-wearing dude who's teased for sporting "femmie garb" by macho men at the Cambie Pub. To their surprise, the crossdresser wins over the bar's attractive waitress. She agrees to his marriage proposal by saying: "If we can wear matching wedding dresses, then baby, I'll say yes."
Bowen Island-based Reid is a lesbian singer-guitarist whose comic songs delve into the "queer" lifestyle and beyond. She says Captain Cupcake takes inspiration from her chat with a tugboater who claimed to know the West Coast waters like "the back of [his] manicured hand." While her song embellishes his real story, he did indeed get married in a wedding dress. "He was quite the character," she said. "And that's quite the bar."
Reid, accompanying herself on guitar, will sing a solo show at the Victoria Event Centre on Wednesday (Victoria musicians Auto Jansz and Andrea June will open). She's touring her new album, Doing It For the Chicks. The cover features a flame-haired Reid surrounded by a gaggle of adoring women. Her title song is a tongue-in-cheek ditty about Reid's campaign to convert females to "the dark side of the bedroom." Sample lyrics: "I got me a couple of killer hot licks/But the music's just all extra-curricular/Because I'm just doing it for the chicks."
Reid said the women portrayed on the CD cover are friends. "Do you want to meet them?" she joked. "Because every guy I talk to is like, hey!"
Reid has achieved enviable success since releasing her first album, Comin' Alive, in 2006. The magazine Penguin Eggs voted her Favourite New Discovery of the Year in 2009; last year, she received a Best Acoustic Album nomination at the Toronto Independent Music Awards. She aims for irreverent laughs, as suggested by song titles such as The Only Dyke at the Mic and I'd Go Straight for Ridley Bent.
Yet not all of her material is comedic. Her song Revolution protests violence against women. No More Missing Daughters is a tribute to women who disappeared from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. For some, Reid's lighthearted songs about sexual politics may come as a relief, after the unsmiling radical feminism of Andrea Dworkin and others in the 1970s and '80s. Her own press bio notes: "Indeed, if there's a person left alive who still thinks lesbian feminists lack a sense of humour, Kate Reid will set them ... well ... not straight, but you know what I mean." On the phone, Reid was careful not to dismiss the efforts of her feminist forebears. "I think they had reason to be kind of cranky, you know," she said. "There's a need for seriousness in the world, because there's a lot of serious issues that women face. I hold a torch for that movement. They paved the way for me to be able to do what I'm doing."
Reid was a school teacher before becoming a full-time singer-songwriter. She taught in the Kootenays, then relocated to Vancouver, where she was a substitute teacher for five years. She was raised in the village of Ayr, Ont., where her parents had a small farm. Reid was a class clown. "Sometimes I think I was funny, but I'm not sure that my teachers did," she said, laughing. "Definitely in some classes I was on the goofy side and would act out, that sort of thing."
Her audiences are a broad range. "I tour in queer venues and I tour in mainstream venues. I try to do it all," is how Reid explains it. She believes singing about her world in a comedic manner makes it accessible to all. "Because I sing about a lot of queer issues, I like to have that humour in there to ease the listener in, if you will," she said.
Some of the best shit disturbers out there are the ones who know how to mix the right amount of honey in with their medicine, and BC singer/songwriter Kate Reid has the intuitive ability to meld the sassy and sweet just perfectly.
Reid's new CD, Doing It for the Chicks, is her third disc, and it is far and away her strongest offering yet. The sardonic cover picture (featuring her in gangsta wear, surrounded by fawning women in little black dresses) is a perfect pairing to the title track. Surprisingly enough, a Yukon church minister was the inspiration for that track. "I was doing a tour of house concerts, and one of the guys on the predetermined circuit was this very conservative minister. I had to quell some fears of what he thought might happen if I sang in his living room," says singer/songwriter Kate Reid.
"I was doing a tour of house concerts," Reid recalls, "and one of the guys on the predetermined circuit was this very conservative minister. I had to quell some fears of what he thought might happen if I sang in his living room," she says with a laugh. "He was just a homophobic guy. That's where the song came from — the weird phobias people have about lesbians and queer people."
The night of the Whitehorse show, the crowd loved her, and CD sales were fantastic, but perhaps the evening's biggest success was the tongue-in-cheek song born out of it. "I'm merely on a divine plan to convert you all to the dark side of the bedroom / So why don't you come and pray at my church for a change / and I'll prey on you 'cause that's what my kind of people do."
True to form, Chicks has its fair share of humour; Reid's songs and shows traditionally contain as much comedy as musicality. Included on the disc is a coming out of her own, a surprising detail from Reid's secret life. In it, you'll hear the faux-hawked, soft butch sing: "Underneath the semi-tough exterior, I've got a high-gloss interior / In the privacy of my own home, I like to put on women's clothes / Yes it's true, I'm one of them, I am a closet femme."
Reid says the track is going to surprise a lot of people. "There's some preconceptions about me based on how I look. If we enter into a different kind of relationship than we're expected to, or dress differently, some people get judgmental about that," she observes. "Sometimes our fears are just our own projections."
Reid's devoted fan base already knows she's capable of contemplation and depth in her music, but on Doing It for the Chicks, she reaches a new level of intensity and solemn self-reflection. In "When I Was a Little Boy," filled with heart and ache, Reid sings about her conflicted childhood: "I played the husband or the hero in every single make-believe scene / When I was a little boy, when I was a little girl." And she worries in "Ain't No Drama Queen" about her ability to be a successful artist: "I'm too out to be in," she sings. "I'm too out to make it someday."
In the disc's toughest song, "Revolution," Reid addresses being molested as a young child by her grandfather. "I had to ask myself the question, 'Do I wanna put that out there?' Yeah, I'm afraid, but fuck it. As a songwriter, my goal is to change people's lives, to move them into action, to touch something inside of them that they can't even explain," she muses. "Good lyrics speak for other people; they say things that we can't even unearth until we hear it. That to me is good music, it is important music."
Reid is on tour throughout Canada until Christmas. She plans to release an album for children of queer parents next year.
Out and Outdoors
Meet Kate Reid, Canadian folk singer, queer activist and musician extraordinaire — she wouldn’t say that last part, but it’s true.
Reid is a legit fulltime starving artist from north of the border whose music is geared toward the day-to-day, in a queer way.It is fitting that Reid is the headliner for the Eugene/Springfield Pride festival, as she is a passionate voice from a culture far more friendly to the LGBT community than our own. “I feel very aware of what I am when I’m in the U.S.,” Reid says, “I’m a voice of hope.”
A diligent guitarist since her high school years, Reid began her stage show as a 21-year-old singing Janis Joplin tunes with her father’s bar band. Her style is neo-folk music meets slam poetry, often self-deprecating and very engaging.
Though her presence on the microphone is brazen, offstage Reid is shy and she speaks openly of her performance fright. “I was terrified of jumping on stage and doing something I felt so passionate about,” she says. When asked about the scene in Canada, in contrast to the one she plays in when touring the U.S., Reid says, “I love pride festivals like the one in Eugene. In the U.S., with the struggles with marriage rights, it’s important music like this is played and that we (LGBT community) are visible in our celebration.” She adds, “We have to keep pushing.”
Kate Reid plays 6 pm Saturday, Aug. 13, at the Eugene/Springfield Pride Festival; don. — Dante Zuñiga-West
With all the work we do, week after week, to sustain the farm and ourselves, what we get a big boost from is seeing friends’ faces when they get to hold a week-old kid or play with the baby chicks in the yard. Last weekend, we had 30 people over, and one comment that stuck with me was when a friend came up to me while I was feeding the chicks and said, “You know, I read your blog, saw the website and didn’t realize until I got here that you really are doing it!” It seemed odd to me at first, because of course we are doing it, but I think what she was saying was that we have done what most people would love to do but, for whatever reason, can’t get to that point. Friday night was one of those nights we will always remember. We were lucky to have Vancouver singer Kate Reid come to the Hill and put on a show for us. We spent Friday morning cleaning up for the concert. We planned to have a potluck dinner before the show, and by 5:30 p.m. we were greeting people and then sitting down for a proper country supper! We all sat together, young, old, city and country folks sharing stories; it was perfect! Kate stood out from the crowd with her red cowboy shirt and dyed red mohawk hairstyle. With her guitar and harmonica, she shared with us her latest harvest of music. I find her second album, I’m Just Warming Up, is storytelling at its best; it has beautifully written lyrics. Sometimes funny, brutally honest and sometimes painfully sad. I connected with a few of her songs, being on a farm myself, like Truckdriver, Identity, Co-Op Girlz. On Friday night she sang I’m Just Doing it for the Chicks, and then sang it for the real chicks Saturday morning, which I videotaped for the website. The highlight of the evening was two-year-old Mikaelle, who, sitting between her moms, asked in a soft voice if Kate could sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Kate found the right chords, and with the audience as her back-up singers, sang it for her. At the end of the show, for an encore, Kate sang Baa Baa Black Sheep. This is definitely what farms are for.
Kate Reid says writing songs for kids “has allowed me to get in touch with my inner teen.” For someone that’s just warming up, Kate Reid appears to be going at full speed. The Vancouver-based singer-songwriter has been working simultaneously on two follow-ups to 2009’s acclaimed I’m Just Warming Up, one of which is an album for children who live in LGBTQ families. In preparation for this, Reid spent some time interviewing kids, soaking in their stories and learning to write songs from another perspective. “It was easier than I thought it would be,” she says from Toronto, where she’s laying down tracks on her other record. “It’s true that I mostly write about myself and my experience with the world, but I’ve always loved the idea of the story song, and I’ve always been interested in other people’s stories. It turned out to be a natural progression; I had a great time with these kids and their parents, finding out what it’s like for them.” Reid, who is a lesbian, admits to a fascination with coming-out stories. The record, which features a queer youth choir, is peppered with them, as well as other issues to be found in families with gay members. If Reid has come away with anything from her project it’s a feeling that things may be changing for the better when it comes to the LGBTQ community. “I’ve met so many interesting, socially aware and astute youth, and they seem to be farther ahead than I was at that age. It was very cool and inspiring to talk to them; it gave me hope for where we are as a country and as a society.” It’s a delicate balance for Reid between straight reportage and keeping the songs light enough for kids to enjoy. After all, she’s not writing a scholarly treatise, and she’s known for her deftly comic lyrics on songs like The Only Dyke at the Open Mic; if she’s learned anything from her initial entry into the world of concept albums, it’s that she can find the humour in anything. “I do touch on lots of issues with the album,” she notes. “There’s a song about a kid who is bullied at school because her parents are gay, and one about an African-American girl who is adopted by lesbian parents. These are heavy topics, but with the kids there’s always this essence of hope, so they don’t come across that way. I like for my songs to end on that note anyways, so it works for me.” The upcoming children’s album has had an unexpected effect on the songwriting for her other “adult” album, one that might mess with anyone’s view of her as a purely folk artist. “Writing kids songs has allowed me to get in touch with my inner teen,” she laughs. “I’ve got a song called That’s So Gay that has a punky, poppy sound that I would never have done before, so it’s loosened me up. I guess it’s allowed me to be a bit goofy, in a way.” Wherever she may wander musically, she insists that folk musician is still the best way to refer to her. "Folk music is about storytelling, pure and simple. It’s talking about people’s lives, and in that sense it’s the lyric that matters when you’re talking about folk, not the music.”
Jeffrey Morgan's SIZZLING PLATTER OF THE WEEK: Kate Reid – I’m Just Warming Up (self released) With song titles like “The Only Dyke At The Open Mic” and “Emergency Dyke Project,” you can probably guess which side of the swingin’ gate country singin’ Kate is straddling. She’s got a brain as big as her heart and a good-natured sense of humor that’s even bigger. But don’t let her cheerful chirpy voice fool ya ’cause Kate’s nobody’s fool, nuh uh. That’s why she prefaces each set of lyrics in the booklet with insightful little explanations and relevant bits of advice like: “In mainstream pop culture, lesbianism is becoming a marketing tool to reach male audiences. Not good.” Of course Kate’s right but, what with me bein’ a guy who still harbors eleventh hour Honor Blackman conversion fantasies, I’m not ashamed in the least to admit that talkin’ tales like “Ex-Junkie Boyfriend” and “Truckdriver” made me fall head over heels for her.
Emotional Rescue -an interview with Kate Reid Kate Reid owes her life to music. It lifted her from chronic despair into an outrageously funny and utterly engaging performer feted by tugboat hands and critics like Tim Readman. He supplies the superlatives. Kate Reid is, quite simply, one of the best songwriters to emerge from the Canadian folk roots scene since David Francey. Songs such as The Only Dyke at the Open Mic, Ex-Junkie Boyfriend and No More Missing Daughters showcase her ability to write compelling, often funny, sometimes tragic songs that make listeners sit up and take notice. For many, songwriting is a hobby, for some it is a profession, but for Kate it is literally a matter of life and death. “Growing up, I was afraid of success, afraid of failure, afraid of just about everything. I had a lot of grief, sadness and anger, and I hadn’t really uncovered a lot of stuff about my childhood that was sitting inside, stuff that I couldn’t articulate. I always say that music saved my life and it truly did. It helped me rise up out of situations of despair. “I was extremely terrified about doing music but even more frightened of not doing it. I knew I’d have to get over it if I wanted to do anything with music. Now I have to keep my songwriting at a level that is deep and not shut myself off. I don’t want to have that feeling of being dead ever again, because that’s what it felt like in my early life.” Her music started with singing at camp and in school choir. “The sound of everyone’s voices coming together was so powerful. I knew then that I could sing and it made me feel good.” She picked up the guitar at 17 years old and played covers of Joni, Neil, Ferron and the Indigo Girls. She soon realized that she wanted to write her own songs, wanted to write about her life. “I was too nervous, so I wouldn’t play in front of people. I had no sense of myself as a musician. Then I played for a couple of friends, and they encouraged me to go to open mics. I moved to Midway, BC, and then I wrote a couple I thought were half-decent.” One of those songs is Small Town, which appeared on her first CD, named, appropriately enough, Coming Alive. It is about her time in that rather red-neck community and it features the deliciously funny lines: And in an effort of self-preservation / I took to shaving my legs / Cuz I didn’t want to get confused with an animal / And end up in my neighbour’s deep freeze / Freezing. “By then I really liked how it felt to sing my songs. It was a good way to get all that stuff, all that turmoil out of my body. I needed to know who I was and songwriting was a way to find out. With music I came alive. I came alive when I sang. I discovered I had a voice I had never heard before inside myself.” She got more and more positive feedback, and realized she was touching on stuff that was meaningful to others, especially when they laughed because of her words. “I realized, ‘Oh I’m funny!’ I didn’t know! I could see myself in other people’s reactions. It helped me to have a sense of self.” Coming out as a lesbian was difficult. “I was learning another part about myself that I was trying to hide, that I was really scared of. I was really worried about what people would think. I had a lot of internalized homophobia. Because of being empowered through my music, I can own that part of myself and feel proud of it.” Now people are always asking her, ‘Do you really have to go on about being a dyke all the time?’ She replies: “There are road blocks whenever I talk about my sexuality. Look at the paper. We just had two guys in London who were gay bashed. We have gay marriage and stuff but there’s still a lot happening out there that are hate crimes. A lot of people make the mistake of saying we’ve won the fight. I remember listening to music that got me through hard stuff and I want to write music like that because it’s really important. “We live in a culture where the mainstream is so straight and narrow, and I want to throw a wrench in there somewhere. I am not a spokeswoman. I don’t know if I can be the voice of the lesbian community. I am a white middle class woman who happens to be a lesbian. All I can do is speak about my experience and if people resonate with that, that’s great. The lesbian community is so diverse. I’m not the IT girl, I just sing the songs.” Her latest CD, I’m Just Warming Up, is a testament to her growing maturity as an artist. It is brilliantly written, beautifully sung, packed with diverse emotions and extremely musical. “Being in the studio is a really good lesson in listening to oneself. I know when something is right and not right. It’s one of the few times I am very sure about what I like and what I don’t like. In the studio I am very clear.” She is excited about her next project. Originally it was to be called Songs for Kids with 2 Mums, but then she realized, “There’s gay and lesbian joint parenting, insemination, adoption, step parenting—all these different possibilities of families I never thought about.” She already has more than 20 interviews lined up. She plans to take it into schools as an educational tool for promoting diversity, inclusion and acceptance. As she wryly observes, “I know what it’s like to be a bit different.” These days she writes constantly, often about the people she meets. Like the bloke in a bar on Vancouver Island who looked like an average guy. “He came and told me he drives a tug boat, he loves my songs and that he’s a total cross-dresser. His nickname is Captain Cupcake. How can you not write a song about that?”
Building a Dyke: Humming and strumming with Kate Reid She might not have won the 2009 Canadian Folk Music Award, but Kate Reid was just happy to be nominated—no, really. To the Vancouver-based folkie, the nod for New/Emerging Artist of the Year helped to draw some attention to her unique brand of dyke folk. “People in the folk music community are really liking what I’m doing, which is great because that’s what I wanted, to have my music be out there and have the lesbian and gay community be more visible,” she says. “I felt really proud when I was at the awards because of that. It’s personal-is-political kind of music. So that’s big for me and important for me.” With songs titles like “I’d Go Straight for Ridley Bent,” “The Only Dyke at the Open Mic” and her unrequited-grocery-store-clerk-crush ditty “Co-op Girlz,” Reid’s penchant for bringing herself and her sexuality front and centre in an often self-deprecating, funny way is indeed a big part of her music. But while others might shrug off their sexual orientation (queer or otherwise) as an unimportant part of their musical identity, Reid feels it’s still something to sing about. “I often ask myself that question, why is it so important, and I think it’s really important because there’s still a lot of homophobia out there,” she says. “People think it’s sort of passé, but it’s not because people still struggle with coming out. I get letters all the time from people saying, ‘Thanks for doing what you’re doing and please keep doing it.’ It really helped them to come out. It shows me that people are still really having a hard time with their own sexuality and people around them have a hard time with it.” Good reasons, for sure, but perhaps throw on the track “Uncharted Territory” on her CFMA-nominated I’m Just Warming Up for a more articulate view; it’s just one of the more serious tunes that Reid penned for the follow-up to 2006’s Comin’ Alive. While she still has her sense of humour on album two, Reid says having a second record has allowed her to spread her musical wings a bit. “I think the serious stuff is important too,” she says. “The funny stuff does get the attention because it’s funny and kind of different, but the serious stuff, when I get emails from people they really comment on that as well.” And the momentum is still going; Reid is already starting work on her next project: a record for kids of lesbian parents. “I’m interviewing a bunch of kids and their moms to get the story on what their life is like,” she says. “I’ve gotten some fan mail from younger people and that inspired me to write songs about them because there isn’t really an album out there for kids who have lesbian parents.” Hey, maybe it’ll get a nomination for Children’s Album of the Year. --------------------------- Kate Reid (with Jennifer Louise Taylor and company) 7:30pm Friday, December 4 Solstice Cafe, 529 Pandora Tickets $7-$15 katereid.net
I’m Just Warming Up - CD Release - This is the second release of this amazing Canadian singer/songwriter. For those of you who already know Kate’s music from her first release in 2006 Comin’ Alive, you will not be disappointed. Kate continues to write and perform in the range from comical and vibrant to deep and soul-searching. If this is your first listen to her music, then you will soon find yourself spellbound by her words, humming the tunes to yourself that carry her words on intricate, thoughtful, and fun melodies. At her heart, Kate Reid is a storyteller and poet. Every song has a tale to tell. Be it a humorous jaunt about running into an ex-boyfriend or visiting a local small-town bar and realizing she is the only lesbian for a long ways. Other songs take a deeper look into her own heart, whether the first blush of love or the rage about the disappearing and murders of women in Vancouver. Kate shows her prowess with both pen and guitar by carrying us with her on a musical journey through a life that is full of joy and quirky humor, but like all of us she also reflects the sadness and dismay that can take hold and brings one to a deeper place of understanding. Kate is most assuredly a proud lesbian and she takes many opportunities to let her listeners know this. For those of us who also name ourselves as proud lesbians, the lyrics will carry a familiarity of shared experience. Only Dyke At The Open Mic will be one that not only gets wonderfully stuck in your head, but you’ll laugh out loud. Emergency Dyke Project Which began with Kate sitting in her car by the side of the road while crews shored up[ an overflowing river, got me in the end. I wasn’t sure where it was going at first, but Kate’s sly wit, good writing, and upbeat playing drew me in. As the song wound on it became about the living as a visable lesbian and the wish for recognition from each other and maybe the mainstream. Uncharted Territory has a humorous tone but goes a little deeper and shows Kate’s savvy commentary on being a womon, surviving violence, being out, proud, and oh so lesbian despite what mainstream society says a woman who plays and sings ought to be. These songs show off her liveliness with/in music, including driving beats and interesting arrangements using layers of instruments which I especially enjoyed. For those of you who are Canadian, you may recognize the 1907 Robert Service poem The Cremation of Sam McGee. This one is fun musically and an interesting story, but it might be that it takes being Canadian to appreciate it fully. The longest selection on the CD, I was quite happy when old Sam McGee was finally in the furnace. Mind you not a bad song, but it did seem a bit out of place on this recording of otherwise lesbian-identified delights. For me, Kate Reid really shines when she gets down with raw emotions. She can do this with her wit, but when she casts off the humor and shows her other sides, I feel that part in me come to life that says, “Yes, I know what this is.” With the song, Truck Driver, Kate invites us to see her as a young girl and her memories dreaming of freedom and the open road. This song makes me long for a pick-up truck and nothing but highway before me. Sisters, listen to this one for those long journeys and sing it sweetly like Kate. Reach To You is a tender love song, one which makes me teary-eyed and onging for love every time I hear it. Rise Up feels like another love song, but this is about the love of life and facing, knowing, and loving one’s self. The journey that is sometimes a struggle, but ultimately embodies hope, when coming to truly know the worth of one’s own heart and place in the world. No More Missing Daughters is sad at first, but as I listened… it, like so many of Kate’s songs, ends up brilliant with hope and the light of possibility. Rage is the catalyst. It comes through loud and clear. Women being murdered is not something any of us need turn away from. Here it feels like Kate is not only telling us a story, but also calling us to action. The music is strong and simple — a ukulele, a shaker, and Kate’s clear voice weaves a web of power and magic that gave me visions of women everywhere marching out to every place on earth and stopping all violence in one fell swoop! I could play Kate’s newest album over and over again and as with her first album it is one I will be acquiring for friends. I’m Just Warming Up is a must-have for this dyke and I hope it is so for many, many more lesbians. This singer-songwriter deserves our attention. If you are fortunate enough to live in BC, go see her perform live. Maybe it’s because Kate sings of such universal ideas for and about lesbians. Maybe it’s that she can string together words and deliver them in a clear, vibrant, and tender voice. Maybe it’s that she is a gifted musician who knows how to use both complexity and simplicity to carry her strikingly clever and meaningful songs to our ears. Whatever it is, Kate Reid’s music has had an impact on me and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
A song can be a dangerous thing. Ask Vancouver-based singer-songwriter Kate Reid. Reid, who is a lesbian, said that while Katy Perry’s song I Kissed A Girl is catchy, it may have unintended effects for the GLBT community by misrepresenting their experiences to mainstream audiences. “(That song) was counter-productive ... (It was about) a straight woman trying to get more attention from men and the media,” said Reid. “A lot of people might not think about the implications of a song ... She’s not trying to represent us at all. She’s just representing herself.” Similar to comedians like Dave Chapelle, Reid blends political awareness with wit. By directly challenging stereotypes, she tries to capture the stories of the people she writes about, including herself. Tracks like I’d Go Straight for Ridley Bent and The Only Dyke at the Open Mic are as funny as they are catchy. “I think it’s easier to stomach what I’m talking about if I make fun of it,” she said. “I want to address stuff like homophobia — even our own internal homophobia ... If people feel like they are part of the story ... (that) helps us see how we are similar (as well as unique).” That said, it’s not all fun for Reid, who also tackles tough subjects — a challenge during live sets that shift in emotions. For example, No More Missing Daughters, about the missing women of Vancouver’s Downtown East Side, is still difficult to perform. “It’s hard for me to separate my emotions — not so much when I’m writing, but when I’m on stage,” she said. “I’m trying to learn techniques like making a set list, and making sure I have comic relief to offset the heavy songs.” Writing in a self-reflexive manner, Reid draws on the role that music played in her own experience of coming out. Stories told by musicians like Ani Difranco, Tracey Chapman and the Indigo Girls helped her figure out her own situation, and she hopes to do the same for others. Her next album will feature stories from cross-country interviews with children who have lesbian moms — an idea that came after a 13-year-old fan sent Reid a letter about her experience. “(I wanted to) look at how they feel as kids,” said Reid, whose partner has two kids. “I heard all these cool stories, and wanted to turn them into songs, so I sent out an email and lined up 20 people within 24 hours who said they would love to be a part of it.”
I'm Just Warming Up - CD Review - Self-effacing Vancouver folkie Kate Reid knows how to write poignant and angry songs. The titles say it all: No More Missing Daughters, The Cremation of Sam McGee and Reach to You, whose harmony vocals evoke the Dixie Chicks. Reid is funny too: In Emergency Dyke Project, she sings to pop teen idol Katy Perry, "I've kissed a girl and I liked it too/ In fact, I've kissed a few in my day/ so how come I'm not famous for it yet?" A terrific album that catapults Reid into the ranks of Penny Lang and Joan Baez. ****1/2
Kate Reid is making quite a name for herself on the indie circuit. That’s because the lesbian singer-songwriter uses humour to comment on her world and her relationships. Songs like The Only Dyke at the Open Mic are steadily winning over new fans, regardless of sexual preference – as are her songs that deal with emotions common to everyone, gay or straight. While Reid makes her way here for an Oct. 3 show at the Yellow Door, here’s a list of her iPod faves. 1. Genda Benda d'bi Young 2. Hillcrest Mine James Keelaghan 3. Tony Patti Griffith 4. Shadows on a Dime Ferron 5. Blue Sky The Allman Brothers 6. You're All I Wanna Do Mary Gauthier 7. Bloody Mother F---ing A------ Martha Wainwright 8. No No Keshagesh Buffy Sainte Marie 9. Little Birdie Dyad 10. Yes I Guess They Oughta Name a Drink After You John Prine Kate Reid performs Oct. 3 at the Yellow Door. Tickets cost $8, or $6 for students, at the door.
Calgary Shows for Funny Folkie - Reid's appeal springs from humanity of lyrics She's a self-described 'homofolkie', but Kate Reid says her music appeals to more than just gay and lesbian music fans. "A lot of straight men like my music for some reason," she says with a laugh. "Obviously I'm a dyke and I talk about it. But what appeals to people is the humour and the humanness of what I write about and the storytelling aspect. It's more about who we are as people rather than sexuality or a gender." That said, Reid's next CD will be a youth-oriented collection of songs written specifically for children with lesbian parents. "I got inspired by fan mail from some young people and also some friends of mine who are lesbians with kids." "I know it's going to really pigeonhole me, but I realized there are a lot of kids who don't have songs for their lives. They don't have a language for their experiences in their families, which are different from the experiences of straight families." Reid hopes to interview children of lesbian couples during her current Canadian tour. She says she will listen to their stories and turn their experiences into songs for the CD, titled Songs for Kids With Two Moms. "I'm really excited about it and I think it's going to be a really fun project in terms of doing the research and writing the songs and trying to create a body of work that expresses the experiences in their lives," says Reid, who plays tonight at Soda, and Monday night at the Ironwood Stage in Inglewood. The 38-year-old singer's latest album, I'm Just Warming Up, has been well-received by folk music fans across the country and her live performances are filled with so many one liners they could be stand-up comedy shows. It's not just her hilarious between-song banter that brings the laughs. Songs such as The Only Dyke at the Open Mic, Junkie Ex-Boyfriend and Emergency Dyke Project also demonstrate Reid's keen lyric writing skills and sharp sense of humour. "I have no idea where it came from," she says. "It just sort of happened. I think it came out of the hard times in my life and the sense of humour just helped keep me afloat. I realized that laughing at myself and at the world was helpful when I was going through the dark stuff." Reid admits she is better known for her wisecracking than some of her deeper, more emotional numbers such as No More Missing Daughters, which was inspired by the Vancouver-area prostitutes murdered by B.C. pig farmer Robert Pickton. But Reid says she doesn't want to add gravitas to her songs just for the sake of being taken more seriously. "I like to do a mix of funny and serious on my albums and I don't want to get away from that." LISA.WILTON@SUNMEDIA.CA
I’m Just Warming Up - CD Review - With such song titles as The Only Dyke at the Open Mic and Emergency Dyke Project it’s easy to identify Kate Reid’s sexual orientation. But the question posed by I’m Just Warming Up is whether the West Coast singer/songwriter’s music transcends gender identification. The answer is affirmative. Smart, saucy and witty, Reid is an artist who happens to be lesbian rather than a lesbian artist with an agenda. Her artistic reach embraces No More Missing Daughters, a song inspired by the missing women of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside worthy of Ani DiFranco, to Truckdriver, a coming-of-age song worthy of Ferron, to an adaptation of Robert Service’s The Cremation of Sam McGee.
Only Dyke at Open Mic? Kate Bridges Gap - Few artists burst on the scene with the impact that accompanied Kate Reid's arrival. Going from unknown act to the artist bringing the room to its knees nightly, the local singer/songwriter's first CD, Comin' Alive, boasted such genius moments as "I'd Go Straight for Ridley Bent" and the equally hilariously honest "Starving Artist." Her sophomore effort, I'm Just Warming Up, dropped last month. Produced by Adam Popowitz of Pacifika, the new album is a big jump in songwriting, variety and powerful messages. It's been a flurry of gigs since, hitting Pride events in Edmonton, Winnipeg and Victoria before this weekend's Vancouver Folk Music Festival appearances. While she loves being active in her lesbian community, that's not where her goals begin and end. "Who would've thought it would go over as well with the mainstream or straight crowd as it did," says Reid. "Having a variety of people coming to my shows and being able to branch out and bridge the gap is awesome." With songs as varied as the ridiculously funny story "The Only Dyke at the Open Mic" to the moving road ballad "Truckdriver," many will warm up to this CD.
Kate Reid is going to make you laugh and maybe cheer too. This born-on-a-farm lesbian singer songwriter plays guitar and talks and sings and tells stories about the world as she views it: with an unflinching eye. With the wit and rapid-fire delivery of a Gilmore Girls episode, she tells it like it is. Sometimes it's funny (Only Dyke At The Open Mic) and sometimes it's sad (No More Missing Daughters), but Reid's words always ring true. No one known better than Kate Reid that the root of humour is tragedy. Soon you'll know, too.
Kate Reid Blogs with her Guitar - The East Van singer-songwriter says performing helps her reclaim her power and her voice. Almost everything you need to know about Kate Reid is contained in “The Only Dyke at the Open Mic”, from the East Van–based performer’s brand-new CD, I’m Just Warming Up. Part pop, part folk, the song references Joni Mitchell and Kurt Cobain and being too broke to buy a beer. It’s also funny and poignant and strikingly self-assured, or at least it is once the narrator recovers from the shock of being out and alone in a room full of straight people and the shame of knocking the microphone stand to the floor. Sexual specifics aside, it’s a story that will be familiar to anyone who’s ever worked up the nerve to sing their songs in front of an unfamiliar audience. And it’s also Reid’s life in miniature: lonely outsider finds acceptance, community, and even love through her music. “I’m the only dyke at the open mic / I’m working the crowd and I’m making ’em laugh out loud” Reid sings. “I’m the only dyke at the open mic / Well, whatta ya know / I was winning ’em over.” Reid’s been a minor star in womyn’s-music circles ever since the release of her debut CD, Comin’ Alive. More recently, though, she’s been winning over bigger audiences with songs such as that disc’s hilarious ode to a local alt-country icon, “I’d Go Straight for Ridley Bent”, and the new record’s barbed riposte to I-kissed-a-girl tease Katy Perry, “Emergency Dyke Project”. “I’ve been pleasantly shocked and surprised to find that lots of people in the straight community really like my music—and particularly straight men, for some funny reason,” Reid reports, on the line from her home. “I’m not really sure why that is, but it’s been really cool to see the audience expand, and to see that acceptance. People are actually really enthusiastic. They’ll come up and say, ‘Wow, this is hilarious and so great,’ and all that sort of thing.” It’s probable that Reid’s new fans, like her earlier constituents, are simply responding to the singer’s unwillingness to be anything other than herself. Her lyrics are so honest and outspoken that her style sometimes resembles blogging, only with a guitar instead of a computer keyboard. “Blogging with a guitar? I’ve never heard that expression, but it’s good,” she says, laughing. “Sometimes I wonder if it’s a little self-indulgent—but, you know, it seems to be working. It’s not conceptual stuff, and it’s very personal, and there are lots of words, so I think it’s more like slam poetry meets folk music.” The singer’s exuberant style doesn’t mean that she skims over serious topics, however. One of the reasons that she’s a performer is to give vent to feelings that she’s long kept bottled up. As Reid explains, she’s the product of a profoundly dysfunctional family environment, and that experience is the subtext behind many of her most moving songs. “I won’t go into the gory details, but there was sexual abuse in my family, and some alcoholism, and then mental illness to go along with all that stuff,” she reveals. “And, yeah, the incest was sort of the big piece. But there was just a lot of silence around that, so I didn’t get it until I was well into my early 30s—why I was feeling like crap all the time, and why I was so paranoid and so unsteady and so worried about people. I was fearful, right? So that’s one of the basic things that I talk about.” Today, Reid seems anything but depressed, and she credits two things for that confidence: coming out as a lesbian, and getting on-stage as a performer. “That’s why I called my first album Comin’ Alive,” she says. “That was what it felt like for me when I discovered that I could write and perform and sing and make people laugh. I mean, when I have a good crowd and there’s fun stuff happening back and forth, there’s nothing I’d rather be doing—except maybe hiking. “Performing is a way of reclaiming my power—and reclaiming my voice,” she continues. “I’m saying things that I wasn’t allowed to say as a child. So for me it’s very much about finding my voice and defining who I am, as separate from my parents and from all that shit that happened. So, for sure, it’s been a really powerful tool for healing for me.” The joyous emotions Reid expresses in new songs like “Reach to You” and “Dirty Girl” suggest that the healing process is well under way. “I feel like I’ve simmered down a little bit,” she confides. But will love songs ever replace the sociopolitical themes in her repertoire? It’s unlikely. Reid expresses cautious optimism that the world is becoming a better place, but as long as hate, abuse, and homophobia exist, she’ll have lots to write about. As she says, she’s just warming up.
Kate Reid knows how to work an audience. When the dynamic singer steps on stage with her guitar, people listen. “Some singers like well-behaved, quiet audiences,” she confides, “but me, I like unpredictable crowds.” Part of Reid’s appeal is that she sees her musical contribution as more of an exchange than a performance. “I like it when people chat with me while I’m on stage or come up to me after,” says the 38 year-old singer/songwriter. With a wisp of hot pink in her hair and her casual T-shirt and jeans ensemble, Reid exudes an unpretentious vibe in person just as she does on stage. Reid is about to release her second album, I’m Just Warming Up. In it, she really opens up and draws on her own experiences. The CD features stories about running into her ex-junkie boyfriend, about being the only dyke at an open mic and about having the courage to shed fear. Her activism comes from a place of depth; she still struggles to find balance and solace in a world that is often unsupportive of the kind of blunt discussions Reid instigates. “People tell me I’m too in your face about being out in my music,” she says, “but I’m just being who I am. It has taken me a long time to accept who I am and where I am and I want to share that.” For artists like Reid, there are no short cuts. “I know all about struggle and low self-esteem,” she says. Dappling in a wide spectrum of relationships and experiences, Reid came upon her identity through a lot of trial and error. Artistically, she credits the Indigo Girls for being good musical role models. She laughs unabashedly as she confides they are still among her favourites. Her younger sister gave her an Indigo Girls CD long before Reid found her queer community. Recalling the internalized homophobia of her youth she says, “They were so willing to put it out there. There was something a little off-putting about it at first but also something attractive and exciting about their honesty.” The indie folk singer grew up on a farm in southern Ontario. She had no clue lesbians even existed until her 20s. That early invisibility remains a driving motivation behind her music. She says she’s intent on “perpetuating real visibility for real lesbians.” The last song on her CD is an articulate stab at Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl,” a pop song that struck a nerve. “I’m sick of portrayals of lesbians that are clearly marketed to straight men. There is so much consumption of lesbian culture that has nothing to do with the lives of real lesbians and does nothing to create more visibility or rights for us.” Reid has no time for Perry’s lip service and she’s not buying that — or the Britney-Madonna kiss or anything in that vein — as a nod to lesbians. With her signature frankness, Reid says that “being a woman means we’re already second-class citizens. Add lesbian to that and it’s a double kick in the ass.” Since Reid began playing for live audiences five years ago, she has gained a loyal fan base and it’s no wonder. She has the kind of gumption most people only hope for but she came upon it the hard way — by spending a lot of time in self-reflection. In 2003, while living in Nelson, Reid took a sabbatical year from teaching to switch gears. “I had to ask myself all the hard questions: when am I going to be able to have a normal relationship? When am I going to be functional and not scared?” Reid refers to this sabbatical as a time of “excavating old buried shit.” She overhauled her life and began a process of good decisions that allowed her to handpick relationships she wanted to foster. “Artists have to be really careful about who they surround themselves with,” she says. “We can’t afford to be in draining situations. It’s hard enough just to do the work.” The solo artist is now happily and busily creating a holistic creative career, a feat that requires her to be not only talented but also self-aware and skilled at business. Starting out, she recalls, “I used to have to ask everyone about everything from ‘what does a publicist do?’ to ‘how do you book a gig?’” Now she is learning to acknowledge not only how difficult it is to launch a music career but her own achievements as well. “I always catch myself saying I’m lucky but that’s not entirely true. I’ve had luck. But I’ve worked damn hard, too.” From the personal growth, the music started to flow and before she knew it, Trigger booked Reid to open for Yvette Narlock at The Railway Club in Vancouver. At the time, she was still living in Nelson but it wasn’t long before she moved to the city and dedicated herself to her music full time. “I love Vancouver’s culture and we’ve got great food but I miss the country,” Reid says. If she had her way, she would live a two-hour car ride from a large city, somewhere with wide-open spaces. Though most of her lyrics are based on human interactions, the artist can’t help but scope out favourite landscapes and fantasize about retreat time somewhere like rural southern Alberta. Reid likes the challenge of playing in unfamiliar venues where she knows no one. The naturally extroverted performer has been surprised by the diversity of her fans, “I guess it’s my own internalized homophobia,” she says, “but I thought that most of the people who enjoyed my music would be lesbians and that’s not the case.” She is thrilled that her music speaks to people across the sexuality spectrum, a great place to be for an out and proud dyke singer who is about to spend the summer touring mainstream folk music festivals across Canada.
Funny girl: 'Homofolkie' Reid Sees the Humour in Life - There may be a lot of cultural factors that weigh into the stigma, but there's a long-running stereotype that women just aren't as funny as men, especially when it comes to straight-up stand-up. Despite the loads of hilarious exceptions out there—try Tina Fey, Sarah Silverman or Margaret Cho—there aren't a lot of gals who make it doing "women's comedy." The vibrantly faux-hawked, multiply-pierced Kate Reid, on the other hand, takes her routine one step further. The self-professed "homofolkie" is one funny lady. And she's not afraid to be funny about being a woman, or being a dyke. "Most people say lesbians are not funny; they would say we're really serious and feminist and hardcore," Reid says. "When I was younger I was one of those kids who sort of blended in. Now I have a sense of humour about life because I know that it helps in times of difficulty and challenge." Reid's brand of folk music is a meld of spoken word poetry tinged with witticisms about lesbian culture, Canadiana and, of course, just a little bit of good-natured man-hating. It might not seem like a style that's palatable to a wide audience, but her songs have a certain resonance beyond her own demographic, and that's something that still surprises the Vancouver-based songwriter. "I've had incredible responses to my music, from kids to older people in their 60s and 70s, from straight to gay and everyone in between," Reid says. "It's been shocking to me—I expected it to be a women's music kind of thing. I expected to have a fanbase of women and lesbians, and the majority of it is, but I am seeing a lot more straight audience as well. I did want it, but I didn't expect it. When I started out, my goal was to bridge the gap between the communities, and sort of bring lesbianism out to the forefront, to get it noticed and out there. So this is all going along with my plan," she laughs. "My master plan of world domination. But it shows me that people are getting it, that we're getting there as a society, as a culture." Her tune "Ex-Junkie Boyfriend"—about stopping at a traffic light and seeing an ex drive by in a car—has an honesty to it that anyone with any ex might relate to. Then there's "I'd Go Straight for Ridley Bent" (who wouldn't?), which could work as a template for explaining any cross-orientation crush—try "I'd Go Gay For Portia De Rossi," as just one example. But being an out lesbian on the radio (or trying to get on the radio), isn't easy. Inevitably, the Katy Perry question comes up. Last summer, when "I Kissed a Girl" was overplayed on every mainstream pop station, Reid wrote a response to it in one of her own songs. "I don't begrudge her. She's definitely an intelligent woman—she sees a good thing and nails it," Reid explains. "I got to give her credit for that. I had a friend once say to me, 'At least we're getting exposure on the radio,' and I said, 'No, we're not getting exposure because of Katy Perry. This is not about us being more visible, this is about straight chicks who pose as lesbians to get male attention [being] more visible.' "She might have had a lesbian experience or a same-sex experience, and it's titillating for people, [and] that's what it's really about. I'm not bitter," she chuckles, "but I am pissed a bit because I'm an out dyke on the radio and I'm not getting played. They don't play real gay/lesbian stuff on mainstream radio, that's what most people don't want to hear."
Vancouver-based folksinger Kate Reid has kissed a girl or two in her day. She's kissed a few, actually. She makes no bones about it in her new song, Emergency Dyke Project. Oh yeah, and she liked it too. Now where we have heard that story before? Of course, it's a riff on the electro-bouncy "lezploitation" ditty I Kissed A Girl by pop-star sexpot Katy Perry, which was one of the biggest hits on the radio last summer, even earning the rock Betty Boop a Grammy nomination. But not everyone liked the song. Reid didn't, nor did her friends in Vancouver's lesbian community. Actually, the song offended her enough that she decided to take a flippant, though unmistakably sharp dig at it in Emergency Dyke Project, off her second independent release I'm Just Warming Up. In the song, Reid accuses Perry of treating lesbianism as a "trendy joyride," something that the singer-songwriter finds off-putting. "It bugs me because she's using the lesbian experience to promote herself and she's not [a lesbian]," says Reid, 38, who will be performing at the WISE Hall tonight. "It's a pose and she's making money off of it." Emergency Dyke Project, and a good deal of Reid's music, is about the perceived hurdles lesbians still face in today's society -- even though lesbianism now has a sort of pop culture chic about it, as evidenced by the runaway success of a tune like Perry's. That trend is part of the underlying problem, as Reid sees it. "It is trendy, for sure . . . but it's not [depicted realistically]," Reid says. "I Kissed A Girl doesn't portray real lesbian women [or their] lives. . . . Katy Perry certainly doesn't represent me. I'm not in her songs. No one that I hang out with is." Perry, for her part, has borne the brunt of this very sort of criticism since her song topped the charts last year. Defending herself, Perry told one interviewer: "I'm not a lesbian, but I can appreciate the beauty of women. That's what the song is about: Me opening up a magazine and seeing Scarlett Johansson and saying 'if she wanted to kiss me, I wouldn't say no.' . . . It's fantasy. It's a song about curiosity." In taking such offence to the tune, some might say Reid's being humourless about the subject. And, speaking of the perception of lesbians in society, there is the stereotype that they tend to be a humourless, up-in-arms bunch. That's a stereotype Reid tries to combat with her material, actually, much of which takes a playful, funny approach to lesbian life. Songs like Ex-Junkie Boyfriend, The Only Dyke At the Open Mic, and Co-op Girlz are examples of this approach. As is the proclamation on Reid's MySpace page that announces: "Wisecrackin' homofolkie releases latest CD!" "I never really thought about it when I started writing funny songs," Reid says. "I just wanted to write about my life. . . . It wasn't a conscious thing on my part to fly in the face of the stereotype. But now I realize it is a tool I use to make the idea of lesbianism and being gay more palatable for people." However, Reid stresses that she's not just a singer of humorous songs and that's true. One of her songs in particular makes that clear and that's the dark, seething No More Missing Daughters, inspired by Robert Pickton, the serial killing pig farmer from Port Coquitlam who was convicted on six counts of second-degree murder in 2007. He still faces an additional 20 counts of first-degree murder. It's a song that Reid says she needed to write, but notes that she only performs it for certain crowds at this point. For now it's her more lighthearted songs that are bringing Reid attention from the mainstream, and that's something she's hoped for -- even if she didn't think it was possible when she first began pursuing a musical career four years ago. "Initially I was like 'OK, this is going to be pretty big on the gay scene.' . . . But I'm finding out that the straight community is really liking my music, which is great. . . I've been shocked. I've come away from gigs going 'Oh my God, that was so fun and it was mostly straight people. They loved it.' Who knew? I didn't think that was going to happen. "But I guess that's my own phobias speaking, because I expect the worst sometimes." In fact, Reid's had such positive feedback from the straight community that she's set new, ambitious goals for herself. "I've written this down at home. I want to have the things I sing about become more mainstream. I want the gay and lesbian community to be more accepted and I want my music to be a bridge between the communities. "In my dreams, yeah, I'd love to be in the mainstream. Absolutely."
Homofolkie Triumphant! “Too lesbian”? “Too feminist”? - Singer/songwriter Kate Reid doesn’t know the meaning of those phrases. She’s not a spokesman, but singer/songwriter Kate Reid does want her music to speak strongly to women and men alike. “If somebody doesn’t like my music because I’m too lesbian or too feminist, well I don’t really give a shit,” declares singer/songwriter and self-described homofolkie Kate Reid — but in the friendliest possible way. “There’s always going to be somebody that doesn’t like it, right? It just may not be their cup of tea. I guess I shouldn’t say I don’t give a shit, I think it would bug me, but I’d have to realize that that’s not necessarily about me either.” And anyway, anyone who can’t appreciate Reid’s special blend of fema-power ballads and her quirky look into queer life is missing out on many a hearty laugh. Her sophomore release, I’m Just Warming Up, is a sassy stroll through Reid’s life — from her small-town upbringing to her stint with a “boring junkie boyfriend” to her struggle to erode anti-gay discrimination through song. While she isn’t shy about addressing the topic of sexual orientation — in fact, she brazenly confronts anyone who dares suggest she tone down the lesbian references in her lyrics — her songs aren’t alienating but funny, often vulnerable, and always honest. “I don’t want to say I’m a spokesperson for the gay and lesbian community,” Reid says, “but I want there to be music out there that speaks to, and is about, lesbians and women.” Nevertheless, when a reviewer from a folk magazine commented that her songs focused far too much on being a lesbian, she took the criticism under consideration. “When I first heard that,” she says, “I thought, ‘Decent feedback,’ right?’ And then I thought, ‘Wait a second — that’s extremely homophobic.’ And the reason I thought that was, I don’t think anyone has ever said that to an artist that sings about straight relationships.” Out came “Uncharted Territory.” The track is a blatant assertion of her modus operandi, on which she proclaims “I’m political just by loving who I love. By being who I am. It’s an act of rebellion” while happily strumming an acoustic guitar, backed by some cheery banjo-pickin’ and harmonica-whistlin’. “I get so much great feedback from people — straight, lesbian or gay, whatever — about how different, unique, and great it is for them to hear those words, so I know that it’s right. I am doing what I need to be doing. But it really was born out of anger. It was like, ‘Fuck you! I’m going to do it anyways because somebody’s gotta do it.’” Strong words set against a sprightly arrangement of folk music may seem slightly counterintuitive, but it’s nothing compared to the juxtaposition she plays with on “No More Missing Daughters,” an acoustic track written for Vancouver’s missing women. Reid calls for the accused’s head on a stick, more or less, wishing she could gather a “pack of angry bitches” to hunt the guilty party down. “I thought it would be even more powerful if I sang soft and sweet,” she explains, “but if I was coming back with this kickass image and message. I also try to make fun of it a little bit, too. It’s sort of like, ‘Duh, why wouldn’t we be bitches?’ I mean, look at the world, look how women are treated and then we get called those names.” Under her command, ‘bitches’ seems like a word repossessed, full of fire instead of a way to douse a spark. And while people may try to extinguish Reid’s rhetoric by giving her “advice” on how to make it in the “biz,” she’s happy figuring things out for herself. “It’s getting clearer to me every day about who I am, what I’m doing, and what my purpose is,” Reid says. “I mean, so far I’ve mostly heard really, really great stuff. So essentially it’s easy to accept and be happy about and be excited about, right?”
Kate Reid...On the Road I didn’t think much about Kate Reid at first. Someone had put her CD into my mailbox at CJSR, probably based solely on the fact that her short-haired, tank topped appearance in the press release had given a good indication of the music it would carry. I was more than bored with lesbian acoustic folk by then. I pawned the album onto another volunteer instead, asking them to take a listen and report back if it was even remotely worth playing. I just couldn’t take any more angry hippie women. My expectations were wrong. The volunteer came back with a bunch of tracks written down, saying the album was awesome and funny and I totally needed to check it out. I was blown away by the new spin Reid had brought to the genre. Casual but intensely hilarious storytelling in every song, sometimes with the occasional heartbreaking bit of poeticism. I was immediately made a fan. A few months later Reid came to town to play a show at the Blue Chair Café. Outside the restaurant, in her rental car in the parking lot, I had one of the most enjoyable interview experiences I’ve done so far. She was insightful, hilarious and wholly accommodating. It helped, I’m sure, that it was my birthday and Reid gave me lots of cool presents like a CD, poster and a dedicated song. Kate Reid will be returning to town again, this time as part of the Women in the Round ... On the Road tour of Western Canada. Joining her will be Sarah MacDougall and Joanna Chapman-Smith. I have to admit to not yet being familiar with the work of these fine ladies, but after checking out their MySpaces I’m already a big fan. Billed as a “rollicking, estrogen-injected evening of powerhouse women in folk music,” the first stop in Edmonton is at the Blue Chair Café on Thu, Apr 17 and then Prism Bar and Grill on Fri, Apr 18.
It would be easy to write Kate Reid off as just another lesbian folk singer. After all, she sings about her sexual orientation and women’s issues with just her acoustic guitar as back-up. But listening to Kate’s music is somewhere between watching a stand-up comedian and finding someone’s secret journal. Her songs are raw and honest but with an amazing dose of wit, all delivered in a casual yet earnest tone. There isn’t a lot of cryptic poetry in her lyrics, just matter-of-fact stories told with a musical style similar to Melissa Ferrick or Ani DiFranco. I’ve been a fan since her CD first arrived at CJSR last year and I got the chance to interview Kate before her concert at the Blue Chair Café on Oct 24, also the day I turned 22. We had a delicious dinner of ahi tuna before her sound check, then moved into her rental car for a quiet place to do the interview. Vue Weekly: It seems like it’s just a room full of dykes right now. Is that what it’s usually like when you’re playing? Kate Reid: I wouldn’t say that’s what it’s usually like. Yeah, obviously lots of lesbians come out and women, but there’s crossover. Lots of guys and whoever just show up that like folk music. VW: Are you on tour right now or are you just doing a couple stops? KR: I’m just doing a couple shows right now. I haven’t actually gone on a full few week tour yet. I’m going to do that probably in the spring. VW: Where do you think you’ll be going? KR:I’m not sure. Probably across Canada. I don’t know if this is gong to work out but I’m also looking at potentially going down the west coast, down through California and that kind of thing. VW: You have a CD out called Comin’ Alive, how’s that been doing? KR: Like on radio and stuff? Well obviously it’s not played on the Top 40. I don’t know actually. I haven’t checked up on that. I sell a lot of CDs at shows, so that’s really good. I get lots of emails from people saying that they really love it. I think it’s doing fairly well. VW: What was the recording process like? KR: Did you hear of that band Mollies Revenge in the early ‘90s? It was fronted by a woman named Yvette Narlock and she’s in Vancouver and she has a recoding studio in her house now. I was her first project. It took about three months to do it and it was a lot of work; I never realized how much work it was until I actually started doing it. It started off being small, like I was going to do mainly acoustic and some basic instrumentation. Then as I was sitting in the studio I could start hearing all these things in my head, all these instruments, and we kept wanting to add stuff. So it just sort of expanded. VW: What’s your favourite queer movie or TV show? KR: I don’t watch TV very much ... VW: I’m just glad that you didn’t say The L Word. KR: Oh please, can we not say that? VW: Yeah, thanks, that makes me feel better. All these artists that I really respect, like Melissa Etheridge sitting there talking about how she’s like Shane, I don’t want to know that. If that’s true, just keep it to yourself. KR: [laughs] I don’t understand that. I mean I get why people like the show, but it’s not my thing. It doesn’t resonate with my ... whatever. VW: But do you have a favourite lesbian movie? KR: I love Bound. VW: I love Bound! That’s my favourite. KR: [laughs] I just think it’s great because they kick ass, they kick the guy’s ass and I think that’s awesome. I love that one and Better Than Chocolate. VW: That one’s cool because it’s Canadian. KR: And it was filmed in Vancouver. Go Fish I rented back in ‘94. I was living with my boyfriend at that time. He went away for the weekend and I rented it. It was great because I loved it. This is the kind of stuff I’d been wanting to watch. VW: Do you have any gay or lesbian heroes? KR: Ferron is a total hero of mine. Penny Lang is too, she’s a lesbian. I think they’re both fantastic songwriters. Back when Ani DiFranco was dating women I really looked up to her in terms of a lesbian hero, I always thought she was an amazing woman, business woman, songwriter. Audre Lorde is one of my favourite writers. VW: You have a song titled “What I Want.” Right now, what do you want? KR: I really want to be able to not teach anymore and do this as a living and continue making an impact in women’s lives. Music is really important to me. Listening to other people’s music, playing it, writing it, it’s saved my life. It’s an important tool for us to get connected with ourselves. We just need to have more voices out there, we have to have more music resonate with our own experience and our souls. I want to keep doing that because I want to do something important in the world and that feels like part of what I’m supposed to be doing. VW: All right, well, thank you very much for inviting me into your rental car. KR: Anytime! VW: I guess we’ll go head back into the den of lesbians and I can’t wait to hear the concert. KR: Great, it was nice talking to you. Her show was fantastic and Kate definitely both charmed and touched the audience. What a great way to celebrate a birthday. Comin’ Alive is out now, find out more at katereid.net. V
Reid Between the Lines? …No need to as singer-songwriter’s lyrics razor-sharp. By Stuart Derdeyn, Vancouver Province The best thing about good singer/songwriters is their honesty and sense of humour. Thirty seconds into our interview, Kate Reid jokes about being an airhead. OK, technically, that's "Ayr"-head. "I grew up on a farm in a small town in Southern Ontario called Ayr," says Reid. "I went to University at Guelph to do a degree in psychology and moved to Vancouver in '94 via the New Orleans jazz festival up through Utah. "I always wanted to to live here because of the mountains." A few years on the coast was enough to realize that said mountains were larger inland, so she loaded up the truck and she moved to Nelson. The shangri-la in the Kootenays provided the right environment for her to get the bug again. The music bug, that is. "I taught myself to play guitar when I was 17 so I could play along with my dad when he got back from a business trip and learned the Eagles' "Lyin' Eyes." I played with him in my 20s. Around '96, I started playing my own songs at parties." People were super supportive and encouraging of the original material, egging her on to hit the stage. So she did, debuting at the "Five Feminist Minutes" cabaret organized by the Nelson's Women Centre. Initially, the stage fright was "terrifying." In short order, she transformed into a freakin' whirlwind. She honed her craft everywhere there was, performing songs from her first CD, Comin' Alive. Her passion and fire-red dyed faux-hawk aren't easily forgotten. She banks on getting an audience's attention early. "I don't want to be the background because I can't be. I suck at guitar, so I can't depend on that to grab anyone. I'm a lyricist most of all." That's too critical of her strumming. Her bio is more accurate: "One Woman. One Guitar. Lots of Attitude. A straight shooter but definitely not straight, Kate Reid has busted out of the closet with a knack for candid storytelling and songs that are riddled with humour and social commentary." No kidding. Since arriving back in town two years ago, she's been tearing up the local scene with showstoppers such as the hilarious ode to an evening when she was wowed by a fellow singer titled "I'd Go Straight For Ridley Bent." "I'm an experiential songwriter. My lyrics come from my life. The more I do, the more songs can come of it." Comin' Alive documents a decade of artistic awakening revealed through day to day life. From "Small Town" -- "hey this is where I live, it's one of those places you don't want to blink or else you'll miss it" -- to the budding romance in "Times Like These" -- "we started seeing each other a week after I moved into town and we put our best boots forward like dykes often do" -- her lyrical edge is sharp as a samurai, slicing away any of the mush that makes much roots/folk writing smell like cow patties. The word is getting out about it, too. Thanks to katereid.net and fans. "I just got back from playing the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival and it was incredible. There's so much going on down there. That's totally where my heart is, and where I write from, but I also think my writing is broader than that and crosses over." She dreams of taking her talent across Canada to expose her art to more folks. Doubtless, she'll have her little notebook in hand jotting down new tales to put to music. email@example.com
Kate Reid CD Review: Comin’ Alive "...very impressive. Heal Myself, Bright Out Here, and Identity are introspective and universal numbers with marvellous harmonies. Kori Miyanishi adds some expert banjo and fiddle tracks, and a rhythm section allows Kate to rock out like she should. Everyone’s Fucked But Me, Small Town, and Co-op Girlz are just clever and twisted enough to draw chuckles. In the epic Crone Woman, she muses on becoming elderly and wise. Great lyrics there, and her voice is always in tune, maybe sometimes even a bit Rae Spoon-esque."
Kate Reid CD Review: Comin’ Alive Vancouver-based singer-songwriter Kate Reid is one witty chick. She nails the lesbian experience with songs like “Everyone’s Fucked But Me,” with its references to uptight straight women trying fit in at women’s events, two-year relationships and going to therapy to support local women in business. Whether she’s singing about having crushes on “Co-op Girlz,” or living in a town midway to nowhere on “Small Town,” Reid is uncompromisingly queer. No ambiguous pronouns, no potential breakout singles, just a collection of 12 highly personal songs that offer her take on the universal human condition. Reid’s guitar style—basic pop-folk— provides a nice accompaniment for her truly impressive voice. Produced by former Mollies’ Revenge frontwoman Yvette Narlock, “Comin’ Alive” sounds great. The vocals are exactly where they need to be—forefront and centre. In the song “Starving Artist,” she asks: “How will I get on the radio when I cuss and swear and sing about women?” Tongue-in-cheek, she knows that the price for play outside the confines of co-op radio, or maybe CBC on a good day, would be integrity. Reid doesn’t sound like she’s up for the compromise. Your local music store probably won’t have this one. Log on to www.katereid.net to order a copy.
"Kate Reid is one of the funniest one-woman artists I've ever heard. Any one who'd write a song called "The Only Dyke at the Open Mic" deserves a medal, and when she follows it up with "Co-op Girlz" (about trying to pick up a chick at a health food store) and "I‘d Go Straight for Ridley Bent" she should be eligible for the Order of Canada. Enter taining. Sharp. Honest. A woman who breaks the stereotypes and makes us all think as well as laugh. I am, not so secretly, in love with this woman."
“One woman, one guitar, damn sexy on stage. A punky lesbian-feminist singer-songwriter who doesn’t mind the moniker, this Vancouver singer is so suave with her instrument, she looks like she’s been playing Whiskey A Go-Go for years.”
[Kate] is really a vibrant talent. A welcome island of wit and charm in a sea of whining, introspective cack!”
This faux-hawked folkie asks, “How am I going to get on the radio when I cuss and swear and sing about lovin’ women?” Well, writing songs this honest, smart and often gut-splittingly funny can’t hurt. This kind of precocious is precious and altogether rare. An original talent waiting to be discovered.”
Kate Reid is one of the best songwriters I've heard in years. I'd put her on a stage any time, any where."
Punky, yet wise beyond her years, Kate Reid is a breath of fresh air on the Vancouver music scene. She is quirky, in-your-face and charming at the same time, and most of all, a superb entertainer and songwriter. Kate rocks! Oh yeah…she's hilarious!
Comin' Alive CD Baby CD review - If you like music by and for women, this is your next cd to buy….the twelve tunes are great, fun and current. I wish I could air all the tracks but Kate’s self-described “trucker-mouth” precludes a few. Get this album and enjoy tunes about the average and not-so-average lesbian life!
Kate is a brilliant songwriter and storyteller with a “laugh at yourself and the world laughs with you” attitude. Her songs put you in the moment and make you smile from the inside out.