Finding Balance and Acceptance with KLARK
Written by Ry Lei
Published July 13, 2018
Photos by Robiny Jamerson Photography
A little boy sits on his bed, eyes glued to the comic book he holds in front of him. As Superman runs his hand through his jet-black hair, so does that little boy. With a smile on his face, he triumphantly raises his fist to the sky.
That little boy would take on the name KLARK and become a multimedia artist specializing in music, film, photography, and paint. Superman is to Clark Kent as KLARK is to Kevin Xiong, both navigating life at the intersections of identity. Or rather, identities.
The 22-year-old’s debut album “88” includes eight tracks that detail his coming out journey through first dates, awkward Grindr hookups, rupture and repair with his family, and finally, taking ahold of pride. It’s about change, growth, and perhaps even more importantly, it’s about roots and history.
“At some point in the writing process I came across Gonzalez-Torres’ Lovers, 1988—a work dedicated to his partner who passed of HIV/AIDS. Everything just kind of clicked from there,” he said. “I named the album after the piece, and the cover art accentuates the number's intersecting properties. It’s also a lucky Chinese number.”
Like most artists, he’s not only influenced by artists before him, but also by those around him. The album is built on top of aquatic scenery and references, and at the center of it all is a boy nicknamed Neptune, KLARK’s boyfriend. The setting of the album might change from forest to ocean to city streets, the bulk of his story takes place in college.
“88 follows my coming out journey—it’s about how I realised that I don’t have to change anything about me,” he said. “Each song represents an important component of the album’s narrative and my personal journey.”
At his most vulnerable, KLARK is surrounded by storms, tidal waves crashing against him as he shoulders on the burden of this secret identity. At the end of the album, he is at peace. He idly drifts out to sea, headphones in, pride flag in hand, and exhales with a smile as he runs his hand through his jet-black hair.
See the rest of the articles from issue three here