Besides gaining two members, the band also parted ways with their original bassist and management company.
“For me, that meant basically we’ve seen … all these different sort of business aspects of the band and, at the end of the day, all you have is your band. That’s what kept us together — the fact we have a strong band,” Kiyomi said. “We made this record and we feel like we’re going to do big things with it and that’s where the name kind of comes from.”
If you haven’t heard Hunter Valentine’s music outside of the clips on The Real L Word, it’s easiest to describe as classic rock with a modern punk edge. Kiyomi’s vocals slide easily from sultry and sexy chanteuse-esque to on-pitch screams and shrieks Exene Cervenka would be proud of. But some fans might be buying the album and heading to see HV in their cities simply because they seen them on their TV screens, which Kiyomi said she doesn’t mind.
“I don’t think they’d come to the show if they really really hated the music,” she said. “But trust me, I’ve read shit online and people don’t — and that’s OK. You can’t make everybody on your team. That’s part of being in the public eye. I’m a fucking sensitive person whether people see that or not on the show. I’m an artist and I’m sensitive, more than people realize. You have to learn how to take all those things. At the end of the day, if more people are coming to the shows, then I’m happy with that.”
One person she doesn’t care to see at her shows: Castmember Amanda Leigh Dunn. “Amanda is full of wise fabrications. If she doesn’t like the band, that’s totally cool cuz I don’t really want her at my shows anyway. But she says ‘Oh they showed me their music once.’ We never showed her our music. She showed us her girlfriend at the time’s … music. And we were like sitting there getting haircuts like ‘Cool…’ If you know us, as a band, we’re actually pretty modest about our music. We never show anybody anything. Even if they ask. I’m not the kind of person that fucking pulls it out at a party. So basically she was doing that for more drama and facetime with the camera. That’s her M.O. and that’s OK with me.”
Interestingly enough, Amanda’s BFF Lauren Russell was last seen cozying up to Kiyomi in last week’s episode and now seems to be living back in New York. Kiyomi said she’d get in trouble if she spoiled what her relationship is like with Lauren now, but suffice to say it doesn’t end at Dinah.
Kiyomi and Lauren met on the episode two weeks ago while at a Brooklyn bar, and Kiyomi said she has no idea if it was set up so that they’d be the only ones in the beer garden.
“I don’t know, honestly. It’s a small community and Williamsburg, especially, so that kind of shit is bound to happen. That’s a bar we go to all the time, I don’t know if they were told that. I have no idea. We’d just gotten off tour and were trying to go relax and BAM!” she said. “Definitely nothing is scripted. The producers encourage only realness. If something seems unnatural to them then they won’t include it in the edit. It’s pretty real.”
When it comes to her relationship with Ali, Kiyomi said it’s been interesting to be judged so harshly based on the fact she didn’t want to be monogamous at this point in her life.
“I was like ‘I’m not monogamous! I want to have a lot of fun,’” Kiyomi said. “To be honest with you, Trish, when I first met you, I was in a full-on wifed up relationship and I was on tour all the time. and it was really hard and most of my life i’ve actually been in monogamous relationships. And that was the first time in my life that I was like ‘I’m going to be single and I’m not going to be in a monogamous relationship with anyone. I need to learn myself and I need to learn other people and that’s what I’m going to do.’ The fact that it’s looked at like a douchebag negative thing kind of sucks, but I needed to do that at that point in my life. I knew where I was at and i knew where I stood and, because of that, I told Ali she might not want to participate in the show. It was ultimately her choice and she wanted to do it — and this is the result of it.”
Her most important relationship is with her bandmates, though, despite what some people may think after seeing her quarrel with them on the show. “I fucking love my band. My band is like my best friends,” Kiyomi said.”Laura and I have been playing music together for almost 10 years and we’re still best friends. Some people say I treat my band mates like they are disposable. Absolutely not. I couldn’t live without them. The fact that the band has been together this long shows that. We are a unit and that’s how we operate. We make all of our decisions as a group and I don’t get the dictator thing at all, but I do see how I come across. The band is called a band for a reason.”
The only thing Kiyomi really wish cameras wouldn’t have caught her doing was an early makeout with a regional rep in Washington, D.C.
“She was on it right from the beginning. I don’t know, some people are attracted to the camera I guess,” Kiyomi said. “I’m glad they didn’t show everything that night. Phase One is one of the craziest lesbian bars I’ve ever been to in my whole life and the bar manager and owner are good friends of ours so whenever we go there it’s like utter chaos. I am not a dancer and I was all over that dance floor. I woke up and I wasn’t concerned about the make out — I almost didn’t even remember it at the time. Did that really happen? Cuz that girl made out with like three other people so I wasn’t exactly hurting her feelings when I didn’t take her number with me on tour.”
Now that the show is in its last few episodes, Kiyomi’s readying for a September tour with Hunter Valentine as well as starting some acting classes, as she’s been asked to audition for some things.
“I’m the kind of person that’s all about taking in every experience and opportunity that I’m presented with, so it’s not really the kind of situation where I’m like ‘I’m going to be an actor,’” she said. “But if I’m going to do something, I’m going to at least try to do it well and give it my best. I have some auditions and I’m just trying to prepare for them.”
Who does your hair, what products do you use and how long does it take to style?
KM: Magda does my hair and she owns a shop in WIlliamsburg, Brooklyn called Maintamed. It’s a process, you know? You get a blowdryer to get it up and then you take a little Pomade. I like to use Murray’s. It’s old school pomade and has two people with afros on the front of it. I’m not sure I’m their actual demographic. And then you finish it out with a little bit of hairspray. I like Glue by Got2B and BedHead products. It’s actually pretty quick. It takes probably like 15 minutes, tops. I’ve actually been growing my hair out and now everyone is asking about my hair. I’m like “Fuck!”
Top or bottom?
Has being on the show helped or hurt your personal relationships?
KM: A lot of my friends weren’t on the show because they’re like professionals and can’t do it for work so it didn’t really affect a lot of my friendships. That, I guess, in turn affects my relationships because I haven’t seen them a lot. But I think it’s helped me really look at myself a lot and it makes me want to be a better person and it forces you to be really in touch with yourself which I think, in turn, affects your personal relationships in a positive way.
When did you start playing guitar? How long should someone expect to play before they become good at it?
KM: I started playing guitar when I was like 12 and to be honest, I put it down for a long time because I had a teacher that I really didn’t like working with. He was very strict and technical and he did a whole fucking hour long lesson on how to hold a guitar pick. And so I got really turned off of it and I put it down for like a year. And then one day I just picked it up and started messing around with it and I think my mom was like, “I met this songwriter and he teaches lessons and you should really check it out.” And so I started going to this guy who’s a songwriter, and at the end of teaching me Radiohead songs or whatever I was listening to at the time, he would play me one of his new songs and I was really intrigued by that process. I started writing my own songs and that’s how I leapt on it. It was that songwriting access I got addicted to. I think I’m still working on my guitar skills everytime I pick one up I don’t think there’s a set amount of time before you get really good. In the beginning, the band is practicing six to seven nights a week just so we could get that much better.
Are you currently single or dating? Are you only into non-monogamous relationships and is that because you’ve been hurt?
KM: I’m dating. It’s so tough because I can’t really say. I don’t wanna get in trouble but I’m still dating around. My mind changes all the time. I’ve been in committed relationships my whole life and of course I’ll be in one again I just needed that time to breathe and figure out what I needed as a person and I think that I’m figuring it out. Who knows?
Have you ever dated anyone in Sick of Sarah?
KM: Jamie, the bass player, and I used to date for a while, actually. It was like a summer camp romance. We went on tour with them a total of three times. The first time we weren’t dating or hooking up or anything. I think it was the second tour and she was pretty straight — like she identified that way mostly. And shit happened on tour. We were together for not very long. I think three or months or something like that.
Hunter Valentine are going on tour this fall. Check out the complete list of dates on HunterValentine.com.