In more ways than one, 1990s Seattle was home to a stellar and inimitable chapter of indie history. As the birthplace of grunge and of many independent record labels that changed the history of pop, it’s a pretty big place for inspiration now that all eyes are set on the indie revolution in literary writing and publishing. Although the word indie has been used and abused to denote what is now actually a corporate rock style, taste-wise, I’ve always been a sucker for all things grunge and glamorous indie, and am a faithful follower of Courtney Love’s work since the age of 12… But I digress. What I realised belatedly was the historical significance of these inspired individuals, these bands and their producers, who shone a torch light on how indie artists could turn small beginnings into huge success stories. Looking at the big names in the media, it’s always the same few, with a handful of the same family names cropping up again and again… A package of culture that’s not yours or mine.
Many people tell self-published writers that their work is worthless without an agent’s or publisher’s stamp of approval. An indie outlook on art is different. Not only different but also, as I think, more authentic, more timely, more in touch with social reality. Kim Acrylic is a poet, writer, songwriter, music journalist, and she too is from Seattle. So I was super excited to be able to catch a few virtual words from someone who knew that Seattle indie scene first-hand and can build on it like second nature, as an indie writer.
Her most recent collection of poems “The Myth Behind All Truth”, published independently, contains the most wonderful gems of quirky bright sparking ideas side by side with the melancholy of depressed urban scenarios, so bittersweet (more here) :
What were your wishes?
That you would be up doing the dishes
With a broken heart?
I’ve returned to the back of the line.
Did I believe you were mine?
It’s all very vicious.
Kim has just announced that she is working on a novel, too. I caught a few virtual words from her:
ib : You write with a high powered degree of original style and intense imagery. Who has ended up being your main readership audience — can you put a finger on it — and if so, did it come as a surprise?
Kim : Imagery has always be very important, both in what I write and read. I have always been highly attracted to poetry that is full of word play in the most surreal and abstract way. I just adore reading a poet that paints a picture with their phrases, something I can almost taste. Most of the people who do read my stuff are into surreal and abstract forms of art. And yes, interestingly most my audience is from the U.K. That was very surprising, being that I am this unknown American poet.
ib: Let’s get on to the business of your name, your style, and your make-up … You have also created an alter ego and play with identity, transformation and appearance. How did it all start? Are there individuals, real or fictional, who have been influences ?
Kim: I’m pretty much how I’ve always been. As a young teenager I went by different names, because I never felt “Kim” really suited me. I love naming things; be it myself, books, songs, etc…
As for my look, When I was first allowed to dye my hair, I was about 15; that’s when I began changing my hair every month or so. It started as the typical teenage thing of trying to make a statement, like, ‘Look at me, I’m different!” — As I became more heavily involved in writing for music magazines, I noticed those who stood out the most had a catchy name. I wanted to keep Kim, I didn’t want to lose myself completely. So I picked Acrylic. At the time my favorite song by them was “Acrylic Afternoons” by Pulp, and I really was set on having a name related to them in some way. Also, Acrylic was perfect for the obvious reason-Acrylic equals fake, and it’s a fake name…
Influences? Early 90’s Courtney Love, Nancy Spungen, Cyndi Lauper, and 90’s Drew Barrymore. I just loved that look. I love Bohemian/hippie attire, but also, punk, hipster, glam rock, authentic grunge style, and mod. I really love Twiggy and Edie Sedgewig’s makeup style…
ib: Would it be fair to say that for you, artistic integrity comes first and money or fame come second — or at least that artistic integrity is a very high priority for you?
Kim: Though it would be a dream to be able to live off the money I make doing what I’m so passionate about, that’s just not very realistic unless you are J.K Rowling or Stephen King. But truthfully, money is the LAST thing I think of when I go to to publish something. I look forward to people actually reading something I wrote, the idea that my story is immortal, the good and bad reviews, even the process of naming the book (see I love naming stuff!), and promotion, is something I look forward to.
I used to want to be famous, as far back as I can imagine I did, however, I know now in this day and age, and being the kind of person I am, I could never handle fame.I believe integrity is one of the most important things a person, artist or not can have, and I believe I do and always will have that.
ib: How do you feel about the arts and literary establishment — is there something missing, or too much of something ? Who and what do you like?
Kim : Everything has gone digital. It seems anyone can self-publish, so it makes indie authors look or feel untalented. But I love discovering stories that without this new self-publishing option, I would never get to read.
I think there are too many series, sagas, and trilogies. I like, depending on the book, just one good novel that ties up all loose ends in the duration of one story. I hardly can find those. Everyone is jumping on the series bandwagon, and it’s very rare I find an indie series I like.
I read at least 3 books a week of mostly Indie Authors, so my list of likes is long. It’s great that you can publish stuff and get an audience on your own, awhile introducing the world to great art, but at the same time it can be overdone and a buzz kill. You asked me if something is missing, and I believe the excitement is at risk for being gone. I never want to be just “Another Self- Published Author” …
ib: How did you first get into writing, and where do you plan to take it now? You mentioned you don’t mind self-publishing, but a lot of other people have their doubts. What would you like to say to those people?
Kim : When I was 15. I became this huge Jim Morrison fan, and wanted to be like him. I wanted to put words together so magically like he did in the Doors songs. So I got my pen and paper out, sat on my unmade bed, and never stopped writing. After I was done I would read them to family, and call up my friends, just totally buzzing off their praise! I couldn’t stop!
Then less than a year later, Kurt Cobain died and I came back from his memorial a changed girl. It was my first experience with a suicide, and I had all these feelings within myself that I just spilled out even more onto the paper. My stuff turned much darker, but I found my style. I remained with that dark and abstract style till I turned 30 and got a computer. I typed up all my poems and published them through a vanity press I now regret. But I learned a ton about promoting, networking, laws, collaborating, etc. After that, I started getting offers from people in bands overseas. I’ve officially released two albums since then and collaborated musically with over twenty different musicians. I’ve also had the pleasure of collaborating in poetry form with some of my favorite poets.
My current plan and project is a novel I wrote – “Rock ‘N’ Roll Melancholy” – it’s my first actual story. As for self-publishing doubts, look at it this way. It doesn’t hurt you, if you don’t like it, don’t read it, or do it yourself. But in the meantime if you enjoy a story you wouldn’t have found otherwise, make sure to show some love to the author, by giving it a kind or constructive critical review.
Interview by Polly Trope
Writer and Surrealist.
Literophone Operator : sit in a fluffy cubicle & be on the phone to poets.
Author of “Cured Meat: Memoirs of a Psychiatric Runaway” – Guardian Best First Book Nominations 2014.
Interpreter of Ancient Tales.