Saturday, April 30, 2005

Ani Kyd - Vancouver's Worst Kept Secret, by Christine

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Ani Kyd - Vancouver's Worst Kept Secret

When I sat down to interview Ani Kyd, the first moniker that came to mind was 'Enigma Ani'.

There she sat, a gracious interviewee, unruffled, charming, and unaffected despite a resume of performances/abilities that would intimidate any established musician. On the outside she exudes a calm persona which belies the ingenious, creative, and prolific musician/actor/celebrity that she really is. A paradox indeed. However, the beautiful display of tattooed artwork on her body does give one a hint of the inner Ani.

I decided to take a retrospective route for the interview, working from the 80s onward to track the full history of Ani's talents and experiences.

I first met Ani in the 80s, when she was living in a house full of rastas; saxophone in hand that was as big as she was. I knew then that she was a force to be reckoned with, and would end up going places. Little did I know how far she would truly go.

Ani's focus and attention to detail has always been consistent. When it comes to creativity, it's her decisions, her way, her choice of direction.

In the 80s Ani's life was full of ups and downs, much like any struggling artist. She gave birth to Michael on November 6, 1984, and set about being a single parent. She played her first live gig at the tender age of 16 with Bryan James at the Laquana fest playing bass and singing. At 18, Ani formed Rumblefish with Mary-Jo Kopechne and they became the indie darlings with the CITR university crowd. Ani stayed with Rumblefish for 3 years and developed a cult following. Her release, Stranger Things stayed on the CITR charts for months.

Ani next formed Spank Machine with Gerry Jen Wilson (formerly of the Kane Toads). After a short term, she decided to move on.

Heading into the 90s, Ani became more diversified. She formed a power trio called Peterbuilt with Megan Branford (formerly of Limblifter). That band lasted 1 - 2 years and then Spanking Betty soon evolved. Ani also had a short-lived marriage during this time.

Spanking Betty was Ani's foray into a more theatrical, arthouse S&M-themed band which developed a cult following. 9 members were in the band (with brother Luke, on drums) and within 8 months they went from opening for the Subhumans to headlining the Commodore Ballroom. She then dove into her band Ani Kyd and the Band of Champions. Ani was the main constant, but her backing lineup would change every few months with members of DOA, Subhumans, and the Payolas becoming interchangeable depending upon their schedules.

In 1998, Ani met Jello Biafra of The Dead Kennedys while on set of the movie The Widower. They became good friends, with music as their common ground. Biafra liked Ani's direction and was very supportive of her endeavors.

Ani next formed Kyd Monopoly with Flavio Monopoly (she played guitar/vocals while Flavio played drums - a White Stripes concept before the White Stripes existed.

In 2000, Ani took a break from forming and developing her own bands, and accepted a guitar assignment with Thor, touring with GWAR. This was the first time that Ani was not writing band songs. She toured with Thor for a 40 city tour (one of 4 Canadian/US tours she's been involved in) before opting out. She then went on to form Fuel Injected.45. This was an equally talented effort, collaboration with artists she truly respected. She stayed with Fuel Injected .45 for 2.5 years, but it came to an abrupt end due to some over-indulging.

In 2004, Ani had an epiphany/revelation and decided to clean up her life - physically, mentally and spiritually. In the summer she hit a rough spot when her son was hospitalized and diagnosed with schizophrenia. Michael is doing well - a budding musician in his own right - and fully aware of his situation and the importance of his meds.

Ani then decided to come into her own. She formed Ani Kyd, with her favourite musicians: Gene Hoglan on drums (from Strapping Young Lads), Bryon Stroud on bass (from Fear Factory), Ian White on guitar (from Caustic Thought), and Ani on guitar and vocals. Biafra agreed to produce her CD Evil Needs Candy Too, a rarity as he only produces his own work. Everything gelled together last fall, and her CD is due for release in July of 2005. All tracks on the CD are written by Ani, and for her old Rumblefish fans, Ani has included an acoustic/cello version of Stranger Things.

Ani's credits are quite remarkable

  • 10 bands from 1986 to 2005
  • CD compilations including The Green Revolution, Trooper Tribute, Grrrls With Guitars
  • She's been characterized as a cartoon in Futurama, Simpson's #2 of 2, and in the comic, Broken Pencil
  • Movies include Attack of the Living Dead, Nerve TV, Marking the Mother, The Widower, and Little Criminals
  • Numerous cameos in various visual media from Twilight Zone to The L Word.
  • Appearances in music videos for Thor and The New Pornographers

Everything appears to have come full circle for Ani; karmic debts have been paid, she looks and sounds fantastic, and she's ready to take off. Keep your eyes open for this CD - my hunch is that it will be a keeper, and Vancouver's worst kept secret will soon become global.


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