Arts & Entertainment
5 min

Hunter Valentine on how to keep a punky queer threesome together

One-on-one with Lucas Silveira of The Cliks

Credit: Photo courtesy of Hunter Valentine/iO Darling

Originally from Toronto, now based in Brooklyn, Hunter Valentine is the sweet, punky, all-girl rock band recently signed to New York City indie label Tommy Boy. Many are already familiar with the trio thanks to steady gigging (often with labelmates The Cliks) and the 2009 release of their live DVD, We’re Here To Recruit You.

The band’s second album, Lessons from the Late Night, is set for release on April 13. On the eve of its release, Lucas Silveira chatted with Kiyomi McCloskey of Hunter Valentine. Well, flirted mostly.

LUCAS SILVEIRA: Do you remember how we met? Because to be totally honest, I can’t. It seems like you’ve been a fixture in my life for some time. I do remember the first time I saw Hunter Valentine though. It was upstairs at the Rancho Relaxo and it was a huge deal for me because Rae Spoon was opening up for you and he was the first trans musician I’d ever seen or heard. I was completely blown away by you three because I’d never heard of you. But us meeting seems foggy. Were there drinks involved? Did we make out?
 
KIYOMI MCCLOSKEY: I think that we either met from one of two experiences. The first one that comes to mind is when I was a punk-ass teenager who thought it would be cool to become a professional show promoter. I hired the Cliks to headline this one show that I put on at the El Mocambo. Scandinavia opened up for you and I believe I also hired a cotton candy machine with girls in their underwear to give it away. Or: We opened at your CD release party for the first Cliks record. We were awful! I played a whole guitar solo in the wrong key!
 
SILVEIRA: We’ve known each other now for quite some time. At least 8 years. What would you say is the most memorable moment of our relationship, besides the fact that we dated the same girl and you wanted to kick my ass for it?
 
MCCLOSKEY: I think the most memorable moments have mostly been on stage. The first time Hunter Valentine performed ‘Jimmy Dean’ off our last record, I needed a harmony for the chorus and you came on stage and gave me exactly what I needed. Kind of like how I gave your girlfriend just what she needed when I dated her! Ha ha! And then recently we met on the same stage (at the Gladstone) and we did a full on duet together at this year’s Canadian Music Week festival. Both moments stand out in my mind as memorable and I think it’s super badass that we are still in the music game and have ended up working with a lot of the same people.

SILVEIRA: Have you ever wanted to punch me out?
 
MCCLOSKEY: To be honest, no. But I can’t count the number of times that I have looked over at you and thought, “Wow! He probably wants to hit me right now.”
 
SILVEIRA: I remember way back I jammed with Hunter Valentine in your bedroom rehearsal space at your old house and I remember you saying, “Dude! You make us sound so good!” Do you secretly still want me in your band?  Because if you do, I need a solid gig. My only requirement is that I get nightly lovin’ from Laura.
 
MCCLOSKEY: We don’t have inter-band relationships Lucas! That’s what makes bands fall apart and you know that! It would be comparable to having a bad threesome. There is always someone that feels left out and unloved. Also, if you came on the road with us, you know that we would get into way too much trouble.
 
SILVEIRA: So, do you feel like punching me out now?
 
MCCLOSKEY: Does fisting count as punching?
 
SILVEIRA: I used to have a huge crush on you but I knew you weren’t into boys. Who’s been your biggest secret crush?
 
MCCLOSKEY: Hmmm… I’ve always had a thing for Man Murray.
 
SILVEIRA: I remember a gig The Cliks did with Hunter Valentine at the Gladstone for a Valentine’s day hurrah and how sweet you were to me, because I was crushed because my ex girlfriend had torn my heart out of my chest and stomped it to smithereens, And I had to go on stage after she showed up to make me feel like hell had run me over. Do you feel like that’s a part of your music, to heal the broken hearted? Or do you think your music is about telling the ex to go fuck herself and now you’re ready to do some heartbreaking yourself? With a face like that, you must definitely be a heart breaker.
 
MCCLOSKEY: I feel like performing on stage is a very powerful and at the same time powerless thing. You can take advantage of the fact that you are on a stage and shout your message whether it’s heartbreak or heartbreaker, but at the same time you are voluntarily making yourself so vulnerable. You are displaying your emotions to the masses and that in itself takes so much courage and strength.

So, I think that for me part of music is about showing your strength through your ability to be weak and vulnerable. I hope that an audience member could see something like that and let it lead them in a positive way towards the healing of heartbreak.  Any performer that I have admired has been able to show their raw emotions when performing.

Some of the Clik’s shows after you and that wretched girl broke up were some of the best to me. You were playing “Oh Yeah” and you could feel and hear everything that was going on in your life through one song. To me, that is the power of performance.
 
SILVEIRA: I have always had huge envy and admiration for the camaraderie that you, Laura and Adrienne have as band mates. For a dude who has lacked that kind of spirit in my own band mates, I always assumed it’s because you all started Hunter Valentine together. You were friends first, as well that you are all songwriters in the band, so there’s a balanced division of artistic input, which is not how The Cliks rolled at all as it was my project. Do you feel that this is the only key element that has kept you all solidly connected or is there more to it than that? As well, what kind of precautions are you taking to make sure that you don’t lose this connection?
 
MCCLOSKEY: Being in a band is a weird combination of so many different types of relationships that it’s hard for a lot of people to make it work. We have spent so much time together and learned how to perfect all of these different facets of the overall band relationship. We are best friends, business partners and creative partners. We know how to fight and we know how to love each other. You have to know how to give each other space, you have to know when to pick your battles, you can’t fuck each others girlfriends and you definitely cannot ever fuck each other.

SILVEIRA: What does Hunter Valentine have on the table or coming up that all the little squeaky fans may want to know about?
 
MCCLOSKEY: Our new record, Lessons from the Late Night will be out April 17 across Canada. The first single for the record is called “The Stalker.” It’s about how I used to stalk your girlfriend until she decided she would give me a chance. The video for that should be at MuchMusic very soon and it’s hot!
 
SILVEIRA: And for my last question: how would you feel if I told you that the girl you’re seeing now called me up last night to go out on a date?
 
MCCLOSKEY: I would say you are a liar, because her and I were very busy fucking to the sounds of the latest Clik’s record last night.

For more, check out huntervalentine.com and thecliks.com.

Watch Hunter Valentine’s new music video, “The Stalker”:


Catch the band in concert:

April 7, Hamilton, ON.
April 8, St Catherines, ON.
April 9, Guelph, ON.
April 10, London, ON.
April 14, Peterborough, ON.
April 15, Ottawa, ON.
April 16, Montreal, QC.
April 17, Kingston, ON.
April 19, Toronto, ON.