Song of the day – 416: Kimya Dawson
It’s rare that hearing a new song will start me crying.
The tape hiss on this album reeks of loneliness the way few have since Patrik Fitzgerald.
Reprinted from Hugs and Kisses #43: Kimya Dawson Plays a Gig
So before the show, I go up to Kimya and tentatively say hi, and Kimya says, “Hello again,” and I’m like, “I’m supposed to be introducing you tonight or something, do you want me to” (because my name is writ all over the posters large, like KIMYA DAWSON + SUPPORT + MC EVERETT TRUE and I had no idea until I got to the venue), and she’s like, “Well I don’t know, you’re not going to be a dick are you?” (because I guess Kimya used to read me back when I was music editor at The Stranger in Seattle) and I’m like, “Well, no, that’s when I write, when I’m performing I’m real nice”, and she’s like, “I’ve never seen you perform”, and all the while Clyde from Your Heart Breaks is standing kinda gawky and nervous to one side, having lost her voice wowing the gals at Ladyfest in London the previous night. So we kinda agree that as long as I don’t live up to my “dick” billing I can intro each artist, and so I get to chatting with Clyde a little and she tells me her band is normally more than just herself, but it’s kinda easier to travel this way, and that she plays with Karl Blau, and dude, I totally rate Karl’s gentle, dub-textured Olympian wonderment — and she compliments me on some book or other I wrote …
And now I’m on stage, and the light is blinding my eyes so I can’t see a single face, and I’m telling the audience in the red velvet plush of Brighton’s coolest art house cinema Duke Of Yorks how, if they have stuff to do in the interval, they should do it quickly cos Kimya wants to go on earlier than advertised cos there’s a strict curfew and she wants to play a little longer. And I mutter something about “ … lady from my um, favourite city, Seattle … ” (I lie) and Clyde is on stage, and she’s utterly charming in her awkwardness and glasses, hugging the guitar like a patchwork cat with a broken heart, banging the amps to layer percussion upon percussion, singing off-mic and eloquent, simple odes to the cornfields and space trips to the moon, a tremor of guitar here, just a bounced vocal there, and she’s telling us how cool the Dolphin Race on the pier is (but isn’t it? It’s always been the coolest attraction in this over-hyped resort), and now she’s decided to go for broke with ‘God Speed John Glen’ and tempt Brighton into making spaceship noises and counting down as she takes a trip into outer space and the moon, talking ‘bout how happy the Americans were to kick Russkie ass, and her songs are all jarring and off-key but more poignant for it, and she hugs her cat, strike that, guitar, even closer and Kimya walks up on stage to take a seat, and accompany her on quite a disturbing number really, seems to be about escaping free of the stigma of parental abuse (I could be wrong, I often mishear Americans) …
And now I’m on stage again, telling a story ‘bout how we took our young son Isaac to see Kimya last time she played Brighton, at a community centre, and how he occupied most of his and our time by tickling us from behind, and how he’s at an Essex farm today (I gesticulate, and merge the choices – “Farm … Kimya. Farm … Kimya. I don’t know. I kinda like the choice I made”) and a few people laugh nervously, but none of them are half as nervous as Kimya, what with a notorious journalist dick introducing her, and a beloved film director in the crowd, and a spotlight in her face, keeping her separated from the audience, and her worry over whether “too cool for school Brighton” will want any of her “poop” songs … and hence the first 30 minutes is astonishing – bleak, depressed, totally insular, oblivious and shorn of any interaction sure, but astonishing and intense and kinda worrying as she sings of death and travel and the Puget Sound … and the next 30 are totally fun, as she responds to demand and gives us the poop (in particular, the Alphabet Poop Song) and some of those damnably tricky fast ones like Jeffrey Lewis on amphetamine that hurt her pinkie as she plucks, and she leads the audience through some of the best animal impersonations this side of Isaac being a seagull … and she even does a few requests and sings that lovely one about how she’s never met a Tobi she doesn’t like …
And by the end, she’s even thanking me for not being a dick from onstage, and so I tell her of course that I’m going to go home and write about it all and not even be a dick then. But I lied.
I can’t believe Kimya appeared on this. She’s so NOT part of that world.
You can read Bianca’s great interview with Kimya for Collapse Board here.