Kaki King

Rolling Stone hailed Kaki King as “a genre unto her,” a visionary musician/artist who stands out from the rest. The Brooklyn-based guitarist/composer, who is also a composer, has recorded five extraordinary and distinct LPs. She has performed with icons like Timbaland, Foo Fighters, and The Mountain Goats and contributed to a number of TV and film soundtracks. This includes scoring – and playing the guitar-playing double – Sean Penn’s Into The Wild, which was nominated for a Golden Globe. Every twist and turn marked the beginning of a new chapter, another step on a truly extraordinary musical path. King’s 2002 album Everybody Loves You was her first fully acoustic recording. Since then, King has redefined the role of the solo instrumentalist, always pushing the limits of what is possible. Glow, King’s groundbreaking Velour Music Group album, is both unimaginable and definitive. It is an exuberant collection genre-agnostic soundscapes that are rich in wit, theme and original invention. The album features King’s brilliant songwriting and fretboard skills, from the chambery “Great Round Burn” to the pulsating, Celtic-colored title track “King Pizel.” Kaki King’s extraordinary, reverberant, guitar is the star of Glow. She says, “This is a record of a guitar.” This is the sound of someone playing guitar. No matter what additions were made to this record, the core of it is still one person playing guitar. King’s latest recordings, Glow, feature traditional songcraft as well as additional musicians. All this was done in pursuit of her unique sonic vision. Although the album was critically acclaimed, King felt that she was having an “existential crisis” after the release of her band-oriented Junior in 2010. She was overwhelmed by the unexpected directions her life and music took, and was unsure of how to move forward. She says that a lot of life has happened between the release of this album and the previous one. “There was a lot doubt, a lot fear, and wondering if this was something I wanted to do anymore. I wasn’t sure if being a musician was the right path for me. “I’ve been playing guitar since the age of four years, and I have never known any other life. So the question was, “Is this really what my life is going to be?” A solo worldwide tour was the perfect way for her to clear her mind and restore her perspective. The “Traveling Freak Guitar Show Tour” was an international tour that saw King alone onstage, accompanied only by a range of unusual stringed instruments. It allowed King to reconnect with her musical partner. King said, “I thought, okay let’s get back to what we already know.” “And what we already know is how to play guitar,” King adds. King visited Casa Chica, Mike Einziger’s Malibu homestudio, in March 2012. “That’s where my strengths have always been. King created a series of intriguing solo tracks and demos with “very little other than the fact that I wanted to play guitar.” King pondered the best way to proceed upon her return. King had worked previously with John McEntire and Malcolm Burn, so she was looking for a mixer/engineer who could be sympathetic and create magic sounds. Enter D. James Goodwin. He is a producer, engineer, mixer and owner of The Isokon, a Woodstock, NY studio. Behold! King was convinced by this early playback of Behold! She says, “I could see that this guy could hear things that I could never,” King was contacted by ETHEL, a renowned New York-based string quartet. She asked if she would like to work with them in the near future. King says that classical performance programs are typically set up two years ahead. King explained that she was approached by ETHEL to discuss collaborating. King traveled to Woodstock, mid-May, with a fellow producer, a talented string quartet and a few new songs. Goodwin was a great collaborator and the Isokon provided a perfect working environment. King was spontaneous and organic in his work, with few obstacles to the creative flow. King states, “Our attitude was let’s just get started.” “Let’s just start. Let’s grab something and go. We were taken to places that were quite unexpected.” Inspiration came from a variety of sources. King’s “Cargo Cult” album and “Kelvinator Kelvinator”, King’s exploration of Open D minor tuning are illuminating, while many other tracks were inspired by the “tiny, bright” sound of her Veillette Gryphon high 12. King calls the 12-string high-strung 12-string guitar “a songwriting machine.” That little guy is my dream guitar. It’s almost as if you just sit down with it and everything just comes out beneath your fingers.” Although her attention was focused on her guitar, King is also responsible for Glow’s entire sonic scrum including all percussion. You will also find creative colorings like bagpipes and string arrangements. Goodwin may occasionally play the bass part. Her distinctive vocalization is absent, but their absence is more by design than the demands of the material. King states that vocals don’t have the ability to write themselves. King says that if something had spoken to him, we would have set up an audio mic right away. But it didn’t. Glow ends on a somber note with March Slav, a haunting piece that Goodwin and King share in their mutual fascination with Russian history, the Soviet aesthetic and its title, which is borrowed from Tchaikovsky. King’s interest in new and contemporary music is evident by his closing tribute to the great Russian composer. Future plans include collaborating with ETHEL for a forthcoming Bach performance. Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang has commissioned King to write a piece in a series he will be curating at Carnegie Hall. After a decade of wanderlust, Kaki King is now much more settled. However, he’s still curious and ambitious artistically. Kaki King, an ever-evolving and unconventional musician, seems to have discovered a whole new world of possibilities. from http://www.kakiking.com

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