Montreal pop-rocker Kim Bingham has performed countless gigs touring with legendary Montreal ska band Me, Mom & Morgentaler, David Usher, Bran Van 3000 and Nelly Furtado. But, Kim says, “When I have to go pee when I’m onstage, I have an uncanny skill for leaving at the exact right moment!”
Bingham laughs. “I did that multiple times, especially during my days with Me, Mom & Morgentaler and David Usher! Then I’d come back onstage 16 bars later and pick up my guitar!”
Bingham doesn’t rule out it happening again at her upcoming final Montreal concert of the year, a special Oct. 27 Saturday night Halloween bash at Montreal’s legendary and infamous Café Cleopatra on The Main. Cleopatra’s – with strippers gyrating downstairs and drag queens plying their trade upstairs – is living history, a showbar since 1895 and the last hold-out from Montreal’s famed Sin City era.
“I’m pretty stoked,” Bingham says excitedly. “It’s going to be crazy because usually [a couple of] my friends here have a massive Halloween loft party and a couple hundred people show up throughout the night with these amazing costumes. But this year they can’t host a party because they’re in New York. So I was checking out a show at Café Cleopatra earlier this summer and thought, ‘Wow, let’s do Halloween here!’”
The concert will also be Bingham’s final gig in Montreal until at least the spring of 2013. Ready to promote her new album Up!, the singer-songwriter is off to theMIDEM music and technology conference held annually in Cannes, France, each January in a country where she has a lot of contacts, notably from 2009 when she composed the music for the first two seasons of the Franco-German TV productionLes Invincibles, itself a remake of the original SRC primetime series Les Invinciblesfor which Bingham also wrote the score for three seasons and winning a Prix Gémeaux with Jean-Francois Rivard for Best Theme Song (The Heroes Take).
“The plan is to reach out to people internationally so that I have some traction going on in 2013,” Bingham says. “I don’t know where the buzz is going to come from. For instance, right now I’ve got a lot of YouTube views in the Philippines! So I’m excited about the possibilities!”
Written in Paris and recorded in Los Angeles, Bingham’s current album Up! was co-produced by John Kastner (The Doughboys, Bran Van 3000). She was backed in studio by drummer Gene Trautmann (Queens of the Stone Age), guitarists Jason Falkner (Jellyfish) and Christopher Thorn (Blind Melon), as well as members of Montreal bands The Dears and Creature.
Then there is the titletrack’s official video, an inspired cartoon (watch it below) made almost entirely of multi-coloured thumb tacks. “My dear friend and neighbour Guillaume Blanchet volunteered to make that video because he loved the song so much. So we wrote a storyboard and it took him nine-and-a-half months to make. In all he took 10,604 photos and he completed the video this past May.”
Bingham also continues to record and perform in both French and English. “The truth of the matter is it serves the Quebec artist really well to write and perform in both languages. It’s the smarter thing to do and it’s also fun.”
Bingham adds, “I’ve worked in Quebec and in France where there are some similarities but also some big differences, especially when you’re talking about rock music. What I hear from my French musician friends is that rock in French just doesn’t work, and works much better in English. Whereas in Quebec we have a natural inclination to a North American culture of rock’n’roll [where] I have a really big love for Quebec rock, like Corbeau. [However] both [France and Quebec] are very stringent about lyrics right across the board.”
As she prepares for her return to France, Bingham is upbeat about her career. “I own the rights to all the material I’ve done so basically from this point on I can produce and promote my career as I see fit. I’ve been really fortunate that way, though that doesn’t mean I’m selling tons of records – only a handful of people in the entire music business are selling a ton of records. So you got to do it for the love of it.”
Not even the old showbiz boys club can slow her down.
“When I think about the women who’ve come before [me] – like Patti Smith or Joan Jett – there’s always the sense that you’re always going to be the underdog because you’re the girl. But when I was with David Usher, I was the only woman [in the band]. Many people assumed I couldn’t play as well as the guys but the band was, ‘You’re one of us.’ You just gotta show up, you gotta compete. If anything, being a woman in this business makes you more of a fighter. You have to blow them away.”
Is a future Me, Mom & Morgentaler reunion in the cards?
“After the 2007 reunion, I think we would all say we’ll never ever do it again because it’s just too crazy getting everybody together,” Bingham says. “Most of them have children now, careers around the world and then there’s just us – eternal chaos! But never say never.”
Right now Bingham is focused on her final Montreal concert of the year at Cleopatra’s. The band – featuring Sheenah Ko (keyboards/vocals), Serge Capistran (guitar/vocals), PO Rioux (bass/vocals) and Lydia Champagne (drums) – will be wearing a lot of spandex. And what about Kim?
“I don’t want to give away what my costume will be but let’s just say it’s in line with what the club’s about,” Kim says, smiling. “We’re going to take slight advantage of the club’s Triple-X permit for our show.”