Caron Geary – aka MC Kinky, aka Feral, aka Feral is Kinky – is a rare jewel in the crown of the UK’s club and music scenes. Besides owning a heart of gold and magnetic blue eyes, what sets this lil’ laydee apart is that she basically shares none of the characteristics generally found in her contemporaries. She doesn’t constantly crave attention, neither does she court gushing praise. If you called her amazing or gorgeous, she might just question your sincerity. Caron is a free spirit and achieved everything that she’s got by being herself, without artifice, pretence or attitude. She stands by her beliefs and speaks her mind, no sinecure in a business where everything has become so bland and media-trained. Her versatile talent as a performer and undeniable clout in clubland speak for themselves as she’s amply proven since the ’80s.
Born and raised in North West London’s multicultural urban neighbourhood of Church Street Market/ Lisson Grove, which had a large West Indian/Middle Eastern/Muslim community, she could only be destined to be broad-minded. She grew up above a betting shop and next door to a heaving “blues” (West Indian after-hour dive). She fondly remembers the heavy bass, which travelled from the latter and made her house vibrate all night. Her parents wanted her to be a barrister or a surgeon, no less, but she soon cut her education short when she discovered the thrill of London’s nightlife. Just for the record, she still completed her BA in photography at UAL in 2006.
Getting into reggae while at primary school proved to be not only a first for a wee white girl, but it soon got her on the right track to where she wanted to be heading. She started going to gigs in the company of her uncle, who was only two months older than her. Incredibly, her first gig proved to be the momentous free concert the Rolling Stones performed in Hyde Park before a 250,000-strong audience, shortly after Brian Jones’ death at the end of the ’60s. Not many people on today’s scene can boast that lucky stroke. I’d recommend anyone to watch the Stones in the Park DVD to witness just what a rock concert really means. Years later (in 1976 to be precise), she caught Bob Marley at the Hammersmith Odeon and at his subsequent turn at the Rainbow, the following year. Those three experiences truly shaped Caron’s direction in her forthcoming career.
She formed a band named WPC with friends from Bell Street, playing drums and percussion with them at the Cockpit Theatre, which was only located next door to her block. It was at Finsbury Park’s Music House that she cut the master of her début in earnest as MC Kinky. The track, “Reggae Gone Kinky”, came to life as a 10″ acetate which Caron still proudly owns. Record buyers were first able to sample her unique chatting/toasting style and dancehall lyrics when she duetted with Boy George as MC Kinky on the lovely ragga-tinged “Kipsy”. The track featured on his High Hat LP. Several successful collaborations followed, the likes of Jesus Loves You (with the evergreen “Generations of Love”), Erasure, E-Zee Possee, Natasha Atlas, Chrissie Hynde, George Clinton, Cantakerous and many more. In recent years, she kept herself busy as the solo artist named Feral. She recorded extensively, gigged across the globe and performed virtually everywhere in the UK, from Glasto to the Opera House.
Caron’s nightlife shenanigans began when she set foot at The Bell, the pub in Kings Cross which was all the rage in the late ’80s. Spectrum, a weekly progressive night held at Heaven, proved to be one of the first clubs she patronised. Another fave of hers was Asylum, also held at Heaven, which later morphed into the long-running Pyramid. At that time, she also flirted with Taboo, without really becoming a hard-nose regular. She did that later with clubs like Daisy Chain, Kinky Gerlinky and even Nag Nag Nag. She admits having quite an esoteric taste in music and only finds places entertaining when they don’t play the same genre all night long. Naturally, she enjoys nothing more than meeting new people, hence her continued presence on the scene. The pretty night hawk, who’s hardly been seen without a drink in her hand (even when performing), stepped in and out of trends simply because she chose to be individualistic and was never fond of belonging to one particular crew. “That wouldn’t have felt inclusive enough. I like inclusivity,” she insists, “and I made sure I kept reinventing myself in order to remain current without having to change my personality.” She was never a Blitz kid or a new romantic, however when one hangs out with Leigh Bowery, Rachel Auburn and Dean Bright, the vibe can only rub off on you. She wore a lot of Bodymap, Westwood, customised vintage and tribal outfits, not to forget the trademark girlie kiss curls and big platforms, before opting for the perennial masks that she still sports to this day.
She left home at the age of 23, after joining a housing coop in Camden hilariously named DPHC (Desperate People Housing Co-op). They allocated her a room in an ex-squat in Crowndale Road. That’s where she wrote “Everything Starts with an E”, the still popular rave anthem which hit the charts on the More Protein label. She left her US deal with Columbia/Sony in the mid-’90s after her A&R lady gave Diana King, a fellow artist, her demos “for inspiration”, one of which formed part of “Shy Guy”, her subsequent worldwide hit. The word plagiarism springs to mind. She left Camden for Kilburn around that time, the place where she still lives today.
Feral loves it that young people still approach her for collaborations. “That proves that I’m still relevant today,” she enthuses. “I never sought to make money out of the ‘old school’,” she continues. “When I write, I try to find a commercial twist, but my idea of “commercial” doesn’t always appeal to the masses. I’m also well aware that, without the complete machinery behind me … like pr, management, record companies, the whole package, it is virtually impossible to break in the business. When a track of mine gets played on the radio and it charts, it’s even more of a bonus. Writing for other people would be good but might also prove more difficult for that reason, plus you need the right link-ups.”
Caron manages everything by herself, without the security of a publishing or record deal, or the backing of an agent, manager, DJ booker, press officer or whatever. She still achieved a 2013 number 1 in Australia, entitled Jumanji, and a 2016 number 3, “Sink About It”. As a DJ, she recently played Sonica, one of Ibiza’s radio stations and Sankeys, one of the clubs there. She anticipates spending more time on the island from now on. Watch out for her next three releases before the year is over.
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