– Introducing … JAN
Kim Talon digs her claws into a new project … and a new platform
“Is every girl supposed to look as pretty as possible every opportunity they get?” We’ve hit a soft spot with JAN. Although you may not recognize the pseudonym, surely you recognize the pretty face of Kim Talon, one-half of L.A. art rock band Eagle and Talon—and that seems to be the problem. Particularly when it comes to unveiling a video that has her looking a little less dolled up than the racy photos that swirled around her eponymous debut album as JAN, released last November.
“I made an intentional choice to downplay my looks in this video, and some of the people I’m working with are like, ‘We don’t know if we want you to put this out,’ because I set ‘a standard,’” she says, whispering she could talk about this topic for hours. “The rebellious part of me doesn’t care at all. If I lose guy or even girl fans because they don’t think I was pretty enough, I don’t care.”
The duality is something new for Talon, who was admittedly straight-laced and buttoned-up in her former band. “When I was in Eagle and Talon, I was unable to express a certain part of my femininity or sexuality because it wasn’t [co-partner Alice Talon’s] thing, so I did what she did in terms of self-expression,” she says, noting that that perspective changed as JAN. “I decided to just be free and be who I am and follow my instincts, and that resulted in some sexier pictures; but it went from being an expression of who I am to an experiment.”
The experiment being, would she still be respected as a female artist? Part of the issue is that Eagle and Talon was long welcomed with open arms to feminist-slanting publications like Bust who is now replaced with men’s interest magazines like Maxim where JAN talks about her guilty pleasures and taste in men. Titillating, right? “It’s really frustrating; I’m supposed to be appreciative of any kind of exposure I’m getting because I want as many people to hear the music as possible, but the thing is I feel conflicted by being in these men’s websites and magazines. …Strong women websites and feminist publications are a huge part of my life and ethos,” she says. “I feel like it has had a negative reaction. I’m getting all of this other attention for stuff that has absolutely nothing to do with my music.”
And the music, well that should speak for itself—and in a whole different language from the image she might portray. Some may even go as far to call it riot grrrl-worthy (Talon hand-picked producer John Goodmanson, who’s repetoire includes RG godmothers Sleater-Kinney).
Although Talon doesn’t agree with that label, she says, “I feel like the artists who are expresing anger and frustration in their work are the healthiest people.” Her Liz Phair-style musings are effectively a bit more tortured than anything Eagle and Talon produced, but in a progressive way. “The dark side is a part of all of us, and it’s just a matter of whether you’re brave enough to confront it. …You know, I’m working through stuff.”
Breaking up with your long-term lover and moving across country with nothing but a box of clothes would certainly do that to you. Yet while heart-burn has often been the bane of a songwriter’s existence, Talon does it gracefully, bravely and with daggers of independence unlike some people (looking at you, Taylor Swift).
“If you’re in a bad relationship, your work as an artist becomes even more credible because you don’t know what else to do. My songwriting has become more bare and desperate; desperate in that my music became the only thing I had,” she says. “I lost my house and my music community and my friends and the person I loved. I was in an ocean and my little life jacket was the songwriting and the music.”
But there is a bright side. We may have someone new for her. When I tell Talon that some online research has unearthed her male doppelganger, her inverse, Talon Kim, who happens to be a desirous student at Iowa State and a sushi chef, she gets excited. “Oh my gosh, we need to meet! I wonder if he hates me … or maybe he’s my soulmate.”
Or a new episode of Catfish. In reality, that title is reserved for Alice Talon—and E&T fans have no fear, their relationship is strong as a bull; in fact Alice currently rents the L.A. home Talon deserted for Brooklyn. “She’s my musical soulmate so I can’t stay away from her very long,” she divulges. “I’m hoping that we are going to record sometime in the next year.”
Initially, Talon thought her songs for JAN would actually end up being a new E&T record; the duo had recorded a song named ‘Jan,’ inspired by their mutual admiration for a certain hometown bartender. “She’s kind of a problem,” admits Talon, laughing. “I think she might be an alcoholic; she’s a bartender so she’s pretty unhinged and wild, but there’s something like tragic and beautiful about her.”
That’s where the admiration ends. True inspiration for Talon comes from artists like Whitney Houston, Tori Amos, Kate Bush, and yes, Madonna. “How cool is it that there’s a woman in her 50’s still going at this game,” Talon says excitedly, admitting that she wonders if the pop star would be as successful without her injectible good looks. “You know, we’re told as women that we have an expiration date, all of these things that make it impossible to succeed long-term but here Madonna is proving that wrong. I think that’s really inspiring.”