Hunter Valentine Will Be Rocking At The Dinah

By Francesca Lewis

Hunter Valentine

Attention, fans of reality TV, punk rock or girls who like girls – Hunter Valentine have been announced as the latest addition to the stellar line-up for the upcoming 2014 Club Skirts Dinah Shore Weekend.

Most of us discovered Hunter Valentine when they were featured in season three of The Real L Word, but the band has been working (and rocking) hard for nine years now. Formed when singer Kiyomi McCloskey met drummer Laura Petracca at a gay bar in Toronto, the Canadian all-female pop rock band have produced three studio albums, been featured on the aforementioned reality TV sensation and toured with Cyndi Lauper. Now based in Brooklyn, they have firmly put down roots in the United States, though they spend much of their time touring all over the world, spreading their particular brand of raucous, upbeat lesbian rock.

The band has been through a lot of change in the past year, not least in terms of line-up – only McCloskey and Petracca remain from the original 2004 band. Somer Bingham was added to the band in 2008, only to leave after tensions that were documented on The Real L Word earlier this year, while the insanely cool (and sexy) Vero Sanchez put in an all-too-brief stint as bassist, departing mid-2013 to pursue her own projects. With the recent addition of Aimee Bessada and Leanne Bowes, the band’s line-up seems stable now and is working on new material.

Collide & Conquer

McCloskey described their most recent release, Collide & Conquer, to Vancouver based music and events e-zine, Winnie Cooper, as “a really good balance between hard and soft,” and that description could be extended to the band itself. The chemistry between Hunter Valentine’s founding members is the cornerstone of what makes them work. Watching McCloskey and Petracca in action, on stage or even just bantering in an interview, you see a friendship reminiscent of high school besties.

The lively, at times rowdy, behaviour of the band, as immortalized on The Real L Word, extends to pranks, something new band member Bessada found out the hard way when they made her believe for a whole week that the video for recent single “Pulse” would involve her biggest fear, skydiving.

Laura and Kiyomi

Petracca, left, and McCloskey, right

“I have my extreme wild, crazy side,” Petracca told Curve Magazine, “and then I have my professional, responsible side. I know when to get shit done, and when I want to party and have fun, and jump naked in a pool of 150 people, then I’m going to do it.”

Jump naked into a pool, you say? If only there was a perfect venue for that…

Here at T.H.E, we’re particularly interested in the labels people have been given – or have given themselves – and their relationship to those labels, so it is interesting to ponder the idea of a “lesbian band” or “lesbian rock.” The founding members of Hunter Valentine met in a gay bar, everyone in the band is gay and the songs are written from that perspective. Yet, while there is something unique about the queer experience that makes a love song about two women different from a love song about a heterosexual couple, it’s not that big of a difference. Love is love, after all. However, their time on The Real L Word has made Hunter Valentine inextricably linked to the word “lesbian” – for better and for worse. As McCloskey put it in an interview with The Huffington Post, “While we’re proud to represent the LGBT Community, we also hope people don’t define our music or us by our sexuality.”

Hunter Valentine will take the stage at the Hilton Hotel in Palm Springs, CA, the official host city of Club Skirts Dinah Shore Weekend, the largest lesbian event in the world, on Saturday, April 5 at 4:00pm during the legendary pool party (huntervalentine.com).

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