Chances are, if you are reading this blog, than you are familiar with the New York City nightlife scene. And if you are familiar with the New York City nightlife scene, you, without a doubt, have heard of Kayvon Zand. Even if you don’t know him by name (which, you should), you would certainly be able to pick him out of a crowd. His interesting and unique style turns heads everywhere he goes. With platinum blonde hair styled sky high to perfection, makeup that looks more like artwork, and more rubber and latex clothing than what can even be called a “fetish”, Kayvon gives new meaning to the phrase “I love your look!” With Kayvon, it’s not about dressing to impress, or making a look. It’s about a lifestyle.
But don’t get me wrong; Kayvon Zand isn’t just a pretty face. He’s also a very talented singer/songwriter who, along with his group of close friends known as The Zand Collective, has been tearing up the nightlife scene in New York with their live performances for years. At a Zand performance, one can expect to see anything from fake blood gushing on the stage, to topless girls in swimming pools. It’s a kind of performance art meets burlesque meets a Tim Burton film- on acid. Sometimes sexual, sometimes scary, but always entertaining. And always Kayvon. And love it.
A few weeks ago, Kayvon wrapped on the filming of his mini movie/music video for his latest single “One Way Flight”. With the help of a massively successful kick-starter campaign, cameos from bombshell Amanda Lepore and Village Voice writer Michael Musto, direction by celebrity photographer Mike Ruiz, and song production by Chew Fu (who has produced songs for stars like Lady Gaga and Rihanna), “One Way Flight” is has the potential to be a major career leap for Kayvon. Will this video have the force to catapult Kayvon to higher levels in the music industry? Is mainstream culture ready for something this provocative and daring? Is he?
A: First of all, congratulations on “One Way Flight”! The behind the scenes shots from the video look incredible. I can’t wait to see the end result. What was it like filming a video of this magnitude?
K: Thank you! The whole experience has been so humbling and in my opinion my biggest accomplishment as an artist. I have never worked so long and so hard on a project before. I remember when I first wrote the song with Chew Fu, I was telling John Frazier (Pure Creative Group) about these ideas I had, which he agreed where great. But at the end of my rampage I was like, “How the fuck am I going to pull this off?” That’s when I realized I had to find that place where the fantasy in my head could meet the reality in life. At that moment, I realized I could not do this alone, and I decided to put my bouffant out to the universe and make it happen!
I have to say the whole filming process really came together with having such an incredible team. I feel like my partner in crime has definitely been Rosalina Merrihue, the producer of the film. She was able to explain in laymen terms the technicalities and help to maximize the budget. From there, we were able to create the dynamic team that really just wanted to make art, which is the burning passion that brought the project to life. The team included Mike Ruiz (director), Mike Prevette (D.P.), Jasin Cadic (set design), Jenni Hensler (stylist), Calli Carvajal (hair), Daniel K and Suliman (makeup), and many more. The list goes on. Trust me the credits will probably be just as long as the mini movie/music video, haha!
On the set of “One Way Flight” with Kayvon (center), Gazelle (left), and Michael Musto (right)
A: A couple years ago, you released a your first music video for your single, “So Gone.” How did you decide that now was the right time to release your second video?
K: “So Gone” was my first music video and definitely was more than a humble beginning. I look at the video today and am like “damn!” We did that video with NO BUDGET and it was pretty much like guerilla warfare. We lost our location in the middle of the day and had to crash another spot, but it’s amazing what pretty people with good taste can do. ;)
“So Gone” was such a different project than “One Way Flight.” First off, I never released “So Gone” as a single because I didn’t feel it was “the one”. It didn’t have the production value I wanted to put out there, but I knew it was the start I needed to put it out to the world that music and performance art was my life. So that stepping stone needed to be done. Also, when I filmed “So Gone” I definitely had not grown into the artist I am today. Since that video, for over two years I have been taking vocal lessons from Don Lawrence who has taught everyone from Bono, Christina Aguilera, Gaga, and more. He really took my voice and my confidence as a performer to a whole other level. Also, when I did “So Gone” I didn’t get a chance to show all the sides of me I wanted to in the video. It was definitely the more “handsome” side of Kayvon, not the looks and sides of me people saw in the clubs. ”One Way Flight” is six looks and captures all the sides of me as a performer: from my piano playing, singing, looks, dancing, and just plain corniness. :) It’s a mini movie that shows how intense I can get with my performance and still make fun of my self all at the same time. With that said, buckle that seatbelt!
A: I know that with your Kick-starter campaign to help fund costs for the video, you not only reached your donation goal, you greatly surpassed it. Did you ever think you would get this kind of amazing result? Was this able to help you think bigger in terms of production value?
K: The amazing thing about the Kick-starter campaign was that I not only way surpassed what I had achieved, but it gave me the confidence boost I needed. Now was the time. It was loud and clear that people wanted to see me go forward and represent their breed of underdog. The video itself surpassed the budget by at least 100 times if I was to calculate the amount of favors and talent that came on board. If it wasn’t for Kick-starter, this film would not have happened because my concept and my artistry are not safe. Labels don’t want to see a bisexual white kid from North Carolina with Persian roots tackle pop culture in today’s world. It’s like we look at Bowie, Manson, and Prince and say that was then, but not now. We have had some provocative female acts like Rihanna, Gaga, and Madonna today, but all the males are doing hip-hop and Justin Bieberish techno. I feel the message that the music industry is putting out there is that women can be thought provokers and play on the lines of religion and sexuality because in their eyes, women aren’t valued the same as men. If a woman wears makeup, plays with religion and sexuality it’s safe because the over lying theme is “they are sexy” and at the disposal of men. The moment a guy wears makeup or includes topics like religion and gender, it’s threatening. It’s right in your face and not overseen with how sexy you look. That is where I would like to come in: to be the male eccentric artist for the upcoming generation and to keep people on their toes.
Kayvon and The Zand Collective performing live at XL Nightclub
A: Mike Ruiz is such an amazing photographer and seems like an all-around great guy! How did he come on board with the project?
K: It’s funny, I actually met Mike years ago, when I was tan and had long brown hair. Oh the shame. I actually was playing a terrorist in the opening scene of Ru Paul’s movie “Starbooty.” Over the years as my art developed we would see each other here and there at various events and tweeted quite a bit. Mike had actually invited me to shoot with him a little less than a year ago. After having shot with him and seeing how he was able to capture my energy and vision in a photo, I knew he was the one to direct this project. I wanted to make a video that was fierce, intimidating and beautiful all at the same time. I mean the man has an app called “Pretty Masculine”. I think that says it all! Plus he is in amazing human being. He and his partner Martin are down-to-earth and truly inspiring energies.
A: Tell us a little bit about your concept for the mini-movie/video.
K: The track title is “One Way Flight.” So the concept of the video is an interpretation of a “One Way Flight” in my beautiful yet tragic imagination :) You’ll just have to see!
House of Field member Reiko (left) and Gazelle on the set of “One Way Flight”.
A: How did you spend your Christmas this year?
K: With my partner of three and a half years, Anna Evans, and the Zand Zoo (2 poms, 1 yorkie, 1 persian cat, and 2 white doves) :)
A: I love your aesthetic and the sound of your music. I think it’s fresh and exciting. Obviously, not everybody in the music industry is as open minded, though. Is moving in a more mainstream direction something that you’re interested in? If so, how do you see your unique vision fitting into the industry?
K: Thank you. I like a challenge. At first I said I wanted to be NY famous, because if I could make it in NY, I could make it fucking anywhere! NYC has been very kind to me and I am forever at her mercy, but it is time for the world to get a taste of Zand. I feel the only way I can be a Bowie of this generation is to be in the mainstream. However, being in the mainstream does not mean being a mainstream artist. I feel like it has been done before from Boy George, Visage, New Order, Madonna, Manson, Bowie, and Michael Jackson. I want to rock the mainstream on my terms, and with the power of the internet and blogs it can be done. I am the type of artist who has created it and now I’m like, ok, which one of you motherfuckers wants to take a ride on my “One Way Flight!”
A: With the year about to come to an end, do you have anything exciting in the works for 2013?
K: Releasing “One Way Flight”. It will be my first single. Also, I have been working on a secret project with The Zand Collective, which is being pitched to networks as we speak. 2013 is my coming out year.
The Zand Collective
Follow Kayvon @kayvonzand
Written by Andy
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