indieRepublik was honoured to be given the opportunity to interview the amazing Kim Bingham (within the constraints dictated by Corona!)
Talented musician Kim has had a long and diverse music career since she began in 1990, most recently branching out on her own and releasing her full-length album “UP!” in 2012, followed by multiple eccentric music videos from 2013-2019.
Her fascinating musical journey makes for a very interesting read…
indieRepublik: Tell us a little bit about your musical background
Kim Bingham: I started in a ska band Me Mom and Morgentaler in Montreal in the 90’s. We became well-known for our crazy live shows. But before that, I was raised on soul and R&B by my parents’ records, then unexpectedly I fell in love with rock and punk bands, great singers and guitarists. Women like Joan Jett, Chrissie Hynde, Siouxsie Sioux really inspired me. David Bowie always had great taste in musicians in his band and specifically guitarists for me. It’s Carlos Alomar’s guitar solo in “Stay” that made me want to play guitar.
Unexpectedly, I fell in love with rock and punk bands, great singers and guitarists
indieRepublik: What has it been like to have had such a varied music career, and what has been your favourite time period throughout your career ?
Kim Bingham: Through my various projects I’ve discovered that there’s a combination of two ways of working that I really enjoy. One type of work is someone else’s project that I contribute to and the other work is mine that I create and helm. Collaborating with artists has been really fun for me as I also continue to write, produce and perform my stuff. Composing for the series “Les Invincibles” was great because the show creator Jean-Francois Rivard had an idea that the music would play a prominent role and I had a lot of fun with that. It got me an award! Overall I actually have been enjoying this period now more than any other time, when I’m building on my bolder ideas as an independent artist with a small team behind me.
indieRepublik: Who has been your favourite musician to collaborate with?
Kim Bingham: I enjoyed working with Nelly Furtado. I toured with her for a few months on the international promo tour for her album “Folklore” in 2003. I discovered that she had a really strong work ethic that I truly admired and that being an international pop star is a lot of work. That experience got my head a lot more straight about what it takes.
I enjoyed working with Nelly Furtado
indieRepublik: Tell us something about yourself that you have always wanted to say.
Kim Bingham: I know that this is controversial but I do think that Poutine is a Quebecois dish, more than I think it’s a Canadian one.
indieRepublik: Where do you get your inspiration from?
Kim Bingham: I think my biggest inspiration comes in totally mundane moments, like washing the dishes or taking out the recycling. So basically, housework is where I find my inspiration. All joking aside, I go looking for my inspiration, I know where I can usually find it, whether it’s housework or really in my habit of plucking at the guitar for a few minutes , whenever, and something often comes that I build on.
indieRepublik: How does the songwriting process work for you?
Kim Bingham: Even in my busiest days I really try to sit with my guitar for a few minutes to see what comes to me. I record my ideas on my phone apps and keep listening back for the ideas that resonate with me and feeling where I want to take them next. I keep building the ideas, music, lyrics, structure until I feel like the whole thing holds together like I want it to.
I think my biggest inspiration comes in totally mundane moments
indieRepublik: Tell us a secret about yourself.
Kim Bingham: I used to be quite good at German. Ich habe alles vergessen.
indieRepublik: What was it like to compose soundtracks / how did this composition differ from your usual creative process?
Kim Bingham: It was just by jumping into the job of soundtrack composer that I realized how much color and meaning the music can add to a visual narrative. You can make a sad part kind of funny, or a sweet moment really sinister by what kind of music you add. It was interesting to explore different ways of making sound amplify the emotion of a scene. I enjoyed it and look forward to doing more. It’s different than my usual process, often you have to work fast so there’s not as much soul searching in the writing. The basis of the inspiration is already there, the visual story, and the composer is painting on top of it with sound.
indieRepublik: Me, Mom and Morgentaler became known for its comedic performance art, you explained Mudgirl as the extension of yourself where you get to be “cartoony and a bit surreal”, and the music video “Sweet Irene” is light and funny – what do you think draws you to comic theatricality in music?
Kim Bingham: First, I’ve always loved female comic superheroes. Wonder Woman, Bionic Woman, Bat Girl, Isis, Elektra Assassin, Power Puff Girls, Sailor Moon… they’re fun and as a rock musician you get to go in that direction if that’s your fancy, so I do indulge in comic-book style avatars. Also KISS was big for me, they’re mysterious and larger than life. It’s just a fun thing to do, the theatrical part of performing , being an entertainer.
I’ve always loved female comic superheroes
indieRepublik: Why didn’t you use your full name for such a long time in your career?
Kim Bingham: That’s a good question. I never thought my name was particularly cool, so I tried permutations until finally coming back to it. It’s the woman that makes the name as much as the other way around.
indieRepublik: Do you prefer writing/performing in French or English, and why?
Kim Bingham: English is my mother tongue and I’ve been speaking French since I was three. You could say that each language has its own soul as well as its own sound; each lends itself to sometimes expressing the same thing in very different ways. Some folks say that the French language doesn’t work for rock music, that English is better. I’ve heard amazing rock in French and lyrics that evoke a gentler poetic beauty than in many English rock songs. I take a lot more poetic license in French that I’d like to add to my writing in English.
Each language has its own soul as well as its own sound
indieRepublik: What do you consider when coming up with the concept for a music video?
Kim Bingham: I consider the vision for the song and its meaning first. I always try to think of a narrative or a situation for the video too. I think there’s always a small budget in mind but it’s the ideas that come first and then it’s reducing the execution to the constraints, what’s available.
The “Up!’” video is all stop-motion animation done by my neighbor in Montreal at the time , Guillaume Blanchet. He wanted to do the video because he loved the song and was inspired to do a story with colored thumbtacks and elastic bands about a girl constantly going up,up, up, using elevators, roller coasters, balloons, a rocket…It took him nine months and then the video won him awards too! The “Sweet Irene” video started with director Jolyon White’s idea of using only Instagram filters to make the video, then I added the astronaut suit from Halloween and my green screen, so we made the narrative into a sci-fi story.
indieRepublik: If your current music was a movie, which genre would it be in?
Kim Bingham: “Xanadu”. Eighties roller skate musical.
indieRepublik: What was the last concert you went to?
Kim Bingham: It was a couple of months before the COVID lockdown, the last concert I went to was Kate Tempest, the excellent UK poet/rapper. Her last album was produced by Rick Rubin. I’ve been a huge fan since “Brand New Ancients”.
Many, many thanks to Kim for her time and entertaining responses!