Falconhawk Hotmouth

Falconhawk Hotmouth
Falconhawk’s Kara Keith is done with being pretty keyboard wallpaper. She did time with various Calgary bands in the early ‘90s, but the combination of freaked-out indie boys and predatory industry types drove her to abandon project after project, and she felt herself steadily losing creative control. She talks (and sings) about these battle scars with characteristic unselfconsciousness. It’s exhilarating to hear it spoken with such directness, and by a Canadian gal. Flash forward ten years, and my, how things have changed for Keith. The lady of Falconhawk is articulate, assured, and decidedly unapologetic about what gets her hot — musically and otherwise. Her raspy, sexy voice lies somewhere on the continuum between Debbie Harry and Kim Deal, but smarter. Sure, she can smoulder like a certain other Canadian keyboard goddess, and yeah she’s funny as hell, but she’s also unafraid to be vulnerable, and she is very, very genuine. Hotmouth (surely it refers also to Keith’s brazen tongue) is satisfied to take its own sweet time. Instead of cramming the beginning of the record with indie hit singles, Falconhawk dole out little tastes of the good stuff to come, and then obliterate the senses with a dizzying array of hooks and blissful synth excess. It’s all done with a kind of matter-of-fact, slack sexiness that is still too unusual in girl-fronted bands, which makes it all the sweeter. It may well be true that singing is all about sexual confidence, but it takes buckets of it to sing with total uninhibited glee.

How does what you’re doing differ from the faux new wave stuff that’s been happening? I would say that it’s less self-conscious. I’m not a music nerd; I spend most of my time listening to talk radio. I don’t really know what’s going on anymore. But new wave from back when I knew it — it’s really cold and it’s really self-conscious. And I think our stuff is way more sentimental, and so self-effacing, and... confessional.

You really embrace rebellion in a productive way, and the idea of being kinda deviant — the fact that it’s fun. Well, it should be! It’s just defiance — I think I’m constantly, intuitively defiant. That in itself is deeply political. And what is deviance? You’re adding friction to a commonality, and that’s progress. You gotta kinda roar to make anything happen, so deviance is just kinda the opposite of the norm.

How has your relationship to the audience changed over time? I think I couldn’t get over just letting go. Now I don’t give a shit — you just lose that as you get older. It’s about losing ego, and being able to embrace the fact that you have something to offer, and not take it so seriously. I, for some reason, can play the piano and can’t add two numbers together. So I’m gonna be a piano player, and I’m not gonna be an accountant. So, what’s the big deal — accountants don’t sit there and freak out over the taxes, like, "Oh my god, what are they all gonna think of me?” (Saved by Radio)