Stepping on Stage: Interview with Kara Bond

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What makes you come alive? 

Definitely when I step onstage to perform. It’s an adrenaline rush like no other. It took me a while to conquer stage fright, and I still do get anxious going onstage. But the when the stage lights hit, it becomes another world. You usually can’t see anything because of the lights so it becomes this intimate bubble of time where the only thing that exists is you, the music, your band-mates and a wave of sound. And, of course, stepping off-stage to see my family and friends, to hear how much people enjoyed the set, definitely keeps the high going.  

Tell us about an experience that made you feel empowered.

As a songwriter, I definitely get a lot of my emotions out through my music. I think some of the best songs I’ve written have been about anger, which I usually am not allowed to express in society. Every time I’ve written a song about someone belittling me or treating me badly and I perform it, I feel empowered. I feel like my voice is being heard. Especially when I get some kind of cheer from the audience, it gives me goose-bumps. But mostly I feel empowered when I feel like the message is resonating with people; it’s the most incredible feeling in the world.

Tell us about a time that made you feel small.

Unfortunately, so many times. I’ve been working in the restaurant industry for the past six years and the sexism is still incredibly rampant. I’ve had to leave jobs because of sexual harassment, sometimes because I reported it and the managers decided to make it unbearable to work there any longer. The worst case of sexism I’ve ever experienced was when I was promised the sous chef position and it was given to a man instead. I remember confronting the chef about it and he told me it was because I was too emotional and unstable. It was all because I was being overworked before I left on vacation. I came in to check an order with the chef and I ended up having to cover for the previous sous chef and work an extra night that I was not going to be paid for (because I was on contract). I was exhausted and frustrated so I took a few minutes to breathe outside. The chef then started asking me what I had to be stressed about and why I was upset. He told me he was on my side. When I got back from my vacation, I found out he had given the job to my co-worker. The chef then said he would probably transfer me to another location where the chef was a woman because I could “relate to her better”. It was definitely a low blow from someone I admired and from a place I had given so much to while I was there.

What is a key thing you are learning to love about yourself this year?

I have been experiencing a lot of chronic pain in the past year or so and it has really been a challenge to love my body when it’s causing me so much pain. I don’t think I’ve ever really had a healthy relationship with it since I was also a victim of physical abuse and sexual assault. I guess it’s more that I haven’t ever felt in control of my body, especially now with the pain I’m experiencing. I wrote a poem about those feelings and I realized I haven’t been fair to my body. I have always viewed it in a negative way, be it its limitations, the pain or just how it looks. My goal this year is to build a relationship with my body to try and understand it, listen to its needs and find some balance. It won’t be easy but it’s about time I started really connecting with it.\

What message would you give your ten year old self?

You are enough. Despite what you hear from your parents, from the bullies at school, you are so enough. You’re going to have a really hard time for the next few years but it’s going to teach you to be a really good person. You’re going to be so empathetic and open and generous because you won’t forget how bad it felt to be rejected. Keep reading because it’s going to help you find the words to express yourself; keep writing because it will be your outlet and save you; and keep singing, even when they tell you that you aren’t any good. You’re never going to be the daughter or sister your family wants but that’s okay, because it means you refuse to be anyone other than you are. It’s going to be so hard. You’re going to think it’s not worth it or that you’re not going to make it. But you will make it because you’re a fighter. And that will never change.

Do you consider yourself to be a women who roars? We'd love to hear what has taught you to grow into your voice.

Yes! Definitely! Discovering feminism is what I would consider to have been the point where my life took a turn for the better. I had a really rough childhood and being able to look at my experiences through a feminist lens gave me the tools I needed to start healing. A lot of the pain I went through as a child was justified by extreme right-wing religious beliefs and caused by an unhappy Christian marriage. I realized I didn’t agree with the lessons my parents taught me because they were sexist, racist or unjust. I was constantly punished for being “too sensitive”; now I realize that was empathy. I wasn’t really allowed to express any opinions to my family without being mocked or belittled; so I moved out at a young age and became independent. Acts of defiance when I was younger were dying my hair red, getting piercings or tattoos, taking birth control; because I was told my body didn’t belong to me. Now that I’m free of that kind of controlling behaviour, my acts of defiance are working in a male-dominated fields, putting emphasis on supporting female-fronted groups, pushing for representation in the music community and, of course, telling my story through my song-writing. I have an album coming out this week and I realized every song on it has a feminist message and deals with an experience I’ve had as a woman. And that was completely unintentional. I really hope that my music moves people or resonates with them in some way that helps them. It’s why we share our stories. If one person comes up to me and says that they could relate with a song I wrote, that is all I need to feel fulfilled.

Montreal-based singer songwriter and jazz voice graduate Kara Bond blends blues, folk, pop and rock in her original music with an unapologetic attitude and genuine lyrics. Her debut feminist album “Girls With Attitude” is set to be released May 17th, 2019 on all streaming services. Her interests include Marvel films, reading, drinking wine and cat videos. Her record label is named after her real-life cat Loki, who is a black adoptee with ataxia.

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