As Nordstrom’s footwear design director, Kim House oversees the styles that brands like Halogen®,Caslon®, Treasure & Bondand BP.put forward for feet. In her off-time, Kim is a singer and bassist in the band Fotoform, which she describes cheekily as a “pointy shoegaze” outfit.
“Shoegaze came out of Britain in the late ’80s, early ’90s,” Kim explains, when we meet up in the band’s practice space in Seattle’s SoDo neighborhood. “Bands like Lush, Slowdive, My Bloody Valentine were characterized by a wall of guitars, lots of effects, with ethereal vocals on top.” It’s Kim’s heavenly voice that floats like soft gauze on top of twin guitars, bass and drums. “‘Pointy shoegaze’ was a nod to some of the early ’80s dark stuff we were inspired by—and that time and that scene. People wore a lot of pointy shoes at that time.” But it’s also a nod to Kim’s day job, one that thankfully provides an outlet for her visual inspirations, like the Fotoform avant-garde photography movement, from which the band takes its name.
Fotoform is also a family. Kim looks to her bandmates, with affection and admiration, for inspiration. “We have two guitar players. Geoff [Cox], my husband, he plays with the most amount of pedals. He has a PhD in German lit and works at a little translation agency. Our other guitarist, Stephen [Jones], is amazing. He works for Paul Allen at the Living Computer Museum, so he restores super computers,” Kim says. “Our drummer, Garret [Croxon], is super talented. He’s played with bands like the Fleet Foxes and Erik Blood. We’re super lucky to have him.”
That tight-knit feeling extends to the Seattle music scene, with which Fotoform is intimately involved. “Seattle has such an amazing music community. There are a lot of diverse artists who celebrate and support each other. It’s more of a community than a scene,” shares Kim. “The Northwest in general has a lot of great music. Tender Age from Portland is a new up-and-coming band. Erik Blood from Seattle is one of our favorites.” Kim gestures to Blood’s latest album, Lost in Slow Motion, resting near her. “Black Nite Crash, Jupe Jupe, blicky, I could go on and on.”
In her formative years, Kim was influenced by the band Blondie; she describes Debbie Harry as “my first girl idol and crush.” The Cure, Cocteau Twins, Lush and other moody ’80s acts shaped her style and sound. “Musical influences tend to shift and evolve, just like fashion,” Kim says. Some of the musicians she’s currently got on play are Be Forest, Wild Nothing and Drab Majesty. And as for her style, Kim really does rock a pointy shoe box. “They’re easier to dance in while I play,” she explains.