Blonde Redhead’s Kazu Is Reborn on ‘Adult Baby’

Kazu and her new album were born in Elba, Italy, a small island that allowed the Blonde Redhead vocalist to breathe again

Kazu Makino by Drew Brown
Drew Brown

Blonde Redhead formed in 1993 after artist Kazu Makino met twin brothers Simone and Amedeo Pace at a local Italian restaurant.

The trio would go on to become one of the most interesting and influential underground rock bands of the last 30 years. 

Since 2017, Makino was struggling, both in terms of health and also in terms of expression. In September of that year, she left New York City for Elba, Italy, a small Mediterranean island off of the Tuscan coast.

That's where Kazu and her new album, "Adult Baby," were born. Makino felt like she could breathe again, literally and figuratively.

"I knew the place for many, many years. I hadn't visited for more than 10 years. I kept thinking about it, because I only had very good experiences there. I went back about two summers ago, and I felt a lot better, physically. I felt like I could fall in love again with life. There was this overwhelming feeling about hopefulness," Makino told me over the phone this week.

"New York in specific, I was struggling with my asthma, so I had to take more and more things to maintain my health," she added.

Along with that physical and spiritual perspective shift, came a freedom of artistic expression.

"Easily is not the right word ... but once we started recording we really started exploring. We went farther out than we expected," she said.

In September, Makino released her new album on a label of the same name, marking her full embrace of the concept of her rebirth, but a rebirth that still includes Blonde Redhead in her narrative arc. 

"I talk to them [Simone and Amedeo] a lot. I talk to Amedeo every day. We stay in touch even more now than before. We exchange ideas still and talk about music. We're working on another album right now that's more than 50 percent done," Makino told me.

"But I'm not the type that can multi-task, emotionally," she said.

Kazu headlines The Loft at UCSD on Saturday, Oct. 19. Get tickets here.

Rutger Ansley Rosenborg is an editor and digital marketer at NBC's SoundDiego. Find out more here.

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