War Is Family: Cold War threats and repercussions in a very personal performance by Konrad Kinard

“In case there’s a nuclear bomb, ask your mom, she’ll know what to do”. WAR IS FAMILY is a powerful menacing force narrating the consequences of growing up in the […]

Written By Alina Berezhnaya

On October 18, 2020
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“In case there’s a nuclear bomb, ask your mom, she’ll know what to do”. WAR IS FAMILY is a powerful menacing force narrating the consequences of growing up in the nuclear threat age. Konrad Kinard reflects on a daunting Cold War adolescence in a very personal music and spoken-word art performance.

Konrad Kinard‘s incredible career goes through all the creativity epicentres that are New York, London, Montreal and Berlin. He started a band with Malaria’s Bettina Koster called In the Service Of…, he played in a guitar orchestra with Rhys Chatham, collaborated with David Linton, toured the world with La La La Human Steps dance company, co-founded the band Slash Orchestra (with James Lo), produced for East Berlin musicians (The Daniloff Ensemble, Nitzametin), released his solo material, getting back to his roots and early influences.

WAR IS FAMILY is one of the latest projects from the artist where Konrad reflects on his boyhood, growing up in Texas, surrounded and affected by the nuclear discourse in media.

I was born a Texan. I was born into the Cold War. I was born the year Sputnik circled the earth and shattered the peace in my home. On his ham radio, my father listened in awe and horror to the beeps transmitted from the satellite in space, as it passed overhead. Our lives were to be transformed from that moment. The Russians were at our door, coming to kill us all! So, my father built a nuclear-hardened bomb shelter under our house. As the years progressed we waited, prepared and watched the news with Walter Cronkite. I remember well the nightly ritual at the dinner table, eating to the backdrop of newsreels from Vietnam on a small TV.  Close-up shots of dying soldiers, while chewing beef-stroganoff with egg noodles.

War Is Family and the poster for the Shuttle Shuffle Festival 2019

The sound recording of War Is Family (from last year’s Shuttle Shuffle Festival) is available to listen on artist’s SoundCloud. And it is an uneasy, immersing experience of fear, grief and unknown. The author talks about ‘Imagined America’, an image so vividly clear in the memories of many who grew up in the times of Cold War, media intimidation, looking up at the sky wondering about tomorrow.

“I guess one could call this a grieving for an Imagined America that, as I get older, I see never existed, but in its wake,  leaves a nation bewildered and a family in tatters.”

War Is Family recorded in 2019

What is the most exciting for our readers is that War Is Family project plans to have more performances around the world (specifically in Berlin and New York) but due to the current situation and the uncertainty behind cultural events and gatherings, we have to wait for official announcements. Stay tuned for more information.

Photo credit: Konrad Kinard; Artwork credit: Jilly B. 

Konrad’s SoundCloud, Spotify, website and Patreon