An Interview With Kaki King
By: Dennis M. Kelly
DK: Hello Kaki, thank you so much for taking the time to answer some questions for us today! How are you?
KK: Exhausted but good.
DK: You are truly an amazing woman, musician and visionary and I am very inspired by your work. I really respect how you are pushing the envelope as a performer and creating new avenues for music to be experienced and appreciated in a live format. Thank you for that!
KK: You are so welcome.
DK: Now, you’re going on the road again in a few days here, what do you usually do in preparation of your tours?
KK: I read yelp reviews of restaurants near where I’ll be traveling.
DK: Not a bad idea, you definitely want to eat at the better places the cities have to offer, for sure and what a great time saver too. This tour is keeping you (for the most part) on the eastern part of the country until you hop on over to Los Angeles on March 5th, by chance will that be a start to a west coast set of dates?
KK: This has yet to be determined by the PTBBS (powers that be booking shows).
DK: Ah, Ok. How comfortable are you with touring, especially with your family life that you’ve been experiencing this past year or so? Is it a bit harder in any way to leave home now?
KK: It’s very hard to leave my cute family, but when I am home I am pretty much full time mom. It’s nice to get some time to myself and freedom from a very small person needing everything from you. Then when I’m back home parenting doesn’t feel overwhelming–I’ve missed it and taking care of my daughter feels fun.
DK: Being so into technology, do you Skype calls back home?
KK: Skype is for outside the US. I’m all about Facetime. My toddler kisses the phone when she sees me.
DK: Thats sweet! I haven’t used Facetime much (myself), as yet anyway, perhaps one day soon! Do you manage to find ways of eating healthy and regularly on the road?
KK: I try to fit in five minutes of yoga and one fruit or vegetable. If I’ve done that much then I can pat myself on the back.
DK: Do you manage to find quiet moments to read, write music or anything like that when traveling?
KK: No. There really is no down time. I think everyone who tours brings something like a long book or a recording setup or a diary in which they plan on writing down all of their lofty thoughts. You just end up playing candy crush on our phone and wasting time on twitter.
DK: Thats too bad, but it is (as they say) what it is on the road, I guess, right?
DK: Where have you found most of your musical inspirations from? Reading? The Road? The quiet moments when you are not interrupted and able to create?
KK: Chaos, anxiety, and despair were my “go to” inspirations in my 20’s, but now these days just playing guitar is all the inspiration I need to play more guitar.
DK: You’ve come a long way since then and matured so much more as a musician, I think that in itself has a lot to do with it right there. Having played guitar since you were 5, do you ever see a day when you’d try tackling another instrument?
KK: I would love to play clarinet. Maybe even bass clarinet. It’s the perfect sound in my opinion.
DK: Interesting! I’ve always loved the cello myself. The way you have your guitar braced on stage makes me feel that you are on the verge of maybe creating a new form of guitar (perhaps)? I envision almost a harp-like instrument (on wheels of course) that can be played exactly the way you’re playing now, but as one piece and could potentially be wheeled away if you would perform a song in a different key. You’ve definitely opened up the floodgates of new possibilities and that in itself is very exciting! Do you foresee yourself as that type of person who would create something like this?
KK: I have been tinkering a lot more lately and looking at all the ways in which a guitar can be enhanced and still retain its complete character. I’d definitely like to really customize something in the future.
DK: Taking that a step further, do you foresee adding additional musicians to future incarnations of “The Neck is a Bridge to the Body” with the same mapping on their instruments?
KK: Yes. This I would love.
DK: I would love to see that! Have you made any changes on this leg of your tour to the show itself? Additions or anything like that?
KK: The show continues to grow and change, especially in the pieces that I perform with my video engineer. We have a few new encore pieces that are going to be great.
DK: Excellent! Do you get the chance to gauge the audience’s reaction to various pieces throughout the show and determine what was received better than other aspects?
KK: I’m pretty much in the dark the entire show so I can’t get a very good read on the audience until I speak to them after. With the exception of the piece where the guitar narrates a day in it’s life for you, and that one always gets a really good laugh.
DK: You push yourself musically, do you feel the music industry itself needs to be pushed in new directions?
KK: The music industry needs to accept something that fans have already been doing for a long time which is ignoring categories and genre. Not being able to place an album or an artist in a little box is very bad for marketing, but many, many fans have moved so far beyond that concept.
DK: For our musician readers, what are some important things that you’ve learned that they may be able to benefit from your experiences (either musically or in the industry in general)?
KK: I give everyone the same piece of advice that I wish had been given to me. If you start traveling a lot go ahead and just pick one airline that flies everywhere you need, get the miles account, get the credit card if you can. It’s more expensive in the short term but status is everything when your flight is cancelled and you need to get on the next flight to the gig. If I had done this in the beginning I could fly to the goddamn moon and back for free at this point.
DK: So now you’re coming to Chicago’s City Winery on January 19th, not too far from now already. We’re definitely happy to have you coming back, Chicago loves you for sure! Do you ever vary your show around the sizes of the venues? Does that have any impact on your show in any way?
KK: I love Chicago and I am so excited to be coming back! The size of the venue can affect how much of the show people can see, especially with the detail on the guitar, so I make sure that sight lines are good for the audience.
DK: Well, I am sure it is going to be another amazing show and anyone that is thinking about coming out, all I have to say is, definitely do it! Thank you so very much Kaki once again!
1/16/16 – NYC, NY – The Greene Space at WNYC & WQXR
1/18/16 – Ann Arbor, MI – The Ark
1/19/16 – Chicago, IL – City Winery – Chicago
1/20/16 – St. Louis, MO – Old Rock House
1/22/16 – Nashville, TN – OZ Nashville
1/23/16 – Nashville, TN – OZ Nashville
1/24/16 – Atlanta, GA – Terminal West
1/25/16 – Atlanta, GA – Georgia Theater
2/21/16 – Ardmore, PA – Ardmore Music Hall
2/22/16 – Vienna, VA – Jammin Java
2/24/16 – Northampton, MA – Iron Horse Music Hall
2/25/16 – Rochester, NY – The Little Theatre
2/26/16 – Albany, NY – The Egg Performing Arts Center
2/27/16 – Rockland, ME – Strand Theatre, Rockland, Maine
2/28/16 – Lowell, MA – Root Note Studio
3/5/16 – Los Angeles, CA – Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Listen to “The Neck is a Bridge to the Body” Right Here: