KD Lang on leaving music behind: 'The muse is eluding me'

By Mark Savage
BBC music reporter

  • Published
kd langImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The singer hasn't recorded a solo album in 11 years

Canadian star KD Lang says she considers herself "semi-retired" and may never record new music again.

"I'm not feeling any particular urge to make music right now," she told BBC Radio 4's Front Row. "The muse is eluding me.

"I am completely at peace with the fact that I may be done."

The singer-songwriter is best known for Ingénue, the 1992 album that earned her a number one single, Constant Craving, and a Grammy Award for best pop vocal.

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The record also became a touchstone for the gay community after Lang came out during the promotional campaign, at a time when LGBT performers were a rarity.

Several US country stations banned her music, and she faced a picket line outside the Grammys, but Lang has no regrets.

"I had a big gay contingent around me [at the record company] and of course they were for it, but they were worried about the repercussions of coming out on my career," she told Front Row's John Wilson.

"But it was at a very tumultuous time in gay history, when Aids was full blown and I felt like I needed to take a stand and just be honest and open."

Despite the backlash, Lang, with her cropped hair and pinstripe suits, was already on her way to becoming a multi-million-selling gay icon.

Her reputation was cemented by a portrait on the cover of Vanity Fair, which depicted her being shaved in a barber's chair by swimsuit-clad supermodel Cindy Crawford.

At the time, she cut a lonely figure, but now pop music is filled with performers for whom gender and sexuality are not a big deal, from Frank Ocean and Troye Sivan to Ariana Grande and MUNA.

"It gives me hope," Lang observed. "I don't know who they are necessarily, but when I listen to the radio, I hear a guy singing about a guy or whatever. It's all over the map.

"It's almost the eradication of gender categorisation, which is beautiful, which is what some of us always wanted."

Image caption,
kd lang was speaking to BBC Radio 4's John Wilson

Now 57, Lang is revisiting Ingénue on tour, playing the album in full every night.

"The reason I wanted to do Ingénue is because it did mark a cultural sign post, it was a sonic moment for the LGBTQ evolution," she told Front Row.

"It's not just my record any more," she added.

"People have been listening to it for 25 years and they have their own relationship with it, so I really wanted to deliver it in a neutral way - not void of emotion, but offering it in a way that doesn't superimpose my ideas or memories on it."

However, she said performing the old standards hadn't inspired any new material.

"It's gone for me, that urge," said the singer, whose last solo album, Watershed, was released in 2008.

"I've reached a place, perhaps from my Buddhist practice, where I don't feel fulfilled only by music," she said.

"I love singing, but I don't love all the things that it takes to get there, and I'm very much enjoying my home life with my mum and my family and my partner and her son.

"If it comes it comes, if it doesn't it doesn't. I'm completely open to the flow of life."

Front Row's full interview with KD Lang will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Sounds at 19:15 on Thursday, 1 August.

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