Kiyomi McCloskey on “Make or Break: The Linda Perry Project” and life after “The Real L Word”

Hunter Valentine were on our TV screens two summers ago on The Real L Word, and since then, they’ve kept busy on the road with constant touring around the United States, including a recent stint on Warped Tour. But tonight we’ll see the band—frontwoman Kiyomi McCloskey, drummer Laura Petracca and guitarist Aimee Bessada—on VH1 for the premiere of Make or Break: The Linda Perry Project.

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Where The Real L Word was more about the lives of lesbian women in New York and Los Angeles, Make or Break is about a handful of artists selected to work with legendary songwriter Linda Perry in hopes of being signed to her record label at the end of the season. Hunter Valentine were presented with the chance of working with Linda a year ago while on tour with Girl in a Coma and Krissy Krissy, and it came so quickly, they had to jump off dates without telling fans why.

“It kind of came out of left field. There was a new show with Linda Perry and she was looking for artists to work with and, I don’t know—for some reason when these weird opportunities come along, I kind of didn’t actually think that they’re going to happen,” Kiyomi said with a laugh. “I think it came through our management or agent, and we auditioned on Skype. At the start of the tour, we did about a week of it and luckily we were going through L.A. so we knew if it was a go ahead and we were on it for sure, we would stop the tour in L.A. and if it wasn’t we’d just carry on. We really were waiting until the last minute. We didn’t know if we were going to have to stop or not. I think it was a day after L.A. we got to our Long Beach show and it was confirmed so we turned back around and waited until we were sent to that house.”

The house is a huge mansion in Los Angeles where Linda Perry invites Hunter Valentine and other participating musicians into her studio with her bandmates and encourages them to write and perform without putting on a front or forcing themselves to polish and self-edit.

“Linda’s a guru,” Kiyomi said of working with the show’s star. “I was making a joke that if she had a religion I’d be the first one to join it. The biggest thing for me as an artist with her is that she forced me to explore myself and my—I don’t know how to explain it. My issues with myself—the things that were kind of holding me back that are personal. The show’s about music but it’s like a therapy show. You know, I have to really dig deep in order to be able to pull some creativity out of me. Like I had to address a lot of my own personal demons and issues in order to get to the next level as an artist and she’s really really good at making you accountable for yourself and examining yourself about why you do the things you do. It’s important as an artist because that what makes you grow in the end.”

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While the focus is on the music, there’s also a certain amount of drama as, for better or for worse, Make or Break is a reality television show, and Kiyomi said she carried “a bit of paranoia” with her after her experience on The Real L Word.

“It was definitely a very difficult time in my life to watch it air and watch it unfold the way they chose to portray my personality,” Kiyomi said of The Real L Word. “That was one of the hardest times in my life actually to watch unfold. I think there’s definitely a certain amount of paranoia that comes with it this time around but I’m trying to remember what’s done is done and when I was there I made the best choices that I could and, I think I said before, just stand behind that and it’s reality TV, they’re going to edit it however they want to but I think I was myself on this last show and… I don’t know. I hope that people can see our passion for our music and it’s really a music show and not a big dramatic Real L Word show.”

But Kiyomi doesn’t regret having been on The Real L Word, as it’s helped Hunter Valentine to reach many new fans that might not have otherwise heard their music.

“For every tough moment I had it was worth it because we exposed our music to so many people that it actually really help them get through their tough times. We’re still meeting new people that know of the band because they watched The Real L Word,” she said. “So I hope we can meet a whole new set of eye and ears with this one, because I think Showtime has a different demographic than VH1. We’ll see what happens! I have no idea what to expect after this one. Every single show was sold out [after the show aired] and we were not expecting that at all.”

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