Interview: Kimya Dawson
Wed, 26 Mar 2008 13:21:48
Last year's little-movie-that-could, Juno, made superstars out of its cast and brought the subversively innocent sounds of singer Kimya Dawson to a legion of new fans. Her songs, along with music from her former band, the Moldy Peaches, struck the perfect balance between cute and quirk, and helped to set the endearing tone that made the film such a runaway hit.
Having made her way as an independent musician long before the recent success, Dawson is no stranger to life on the road. Now, she's just struck out on a massive tour set to take her clear around the globe and introduce her music to even more fans firsthand. We caught up with her as she was preparing to leave, and talked everything from the struggles of rock n' roll motherhood to the unifying power of music.
I saw you play at Amoeba records here in Los Angeles a bit ago, and the crowd was literally bursting out of the doors. How does it feel to be playing to such large audiences now?
It’s nice. It’s nice to know that the people can relate to what I dothat they can feel a more personal connection to me. It’s scary though, because at that show there were so many people that I was there for two-and-a-half hours after I played.
I wish they would have let you play that long.
It didn’t make sense, because they only let me play for a little while, but they let me stick around for a super long hugging and signing session. It would have been better if I played and skipped that part. But I don’t know. Maybe for some people it was better to have the hug.
A little of both would have been the best solution, in my opinion. Obviously, a lot of people were holding up the Juno soundtrack, and that has opened you up to a whole new range of fans. When did you first hear that they wanted to use your music in the movie?
It was a little over a year ago at this point.
Was it Jason [Reitman] who called you, or someone else?
It was a woman who worked for him, who’d ordered my paintings before, so I knew who she was.
Did you get to see any of the film before they added your music to it?
I was on set when they filmed the final scene. After that I got a rough cut when he was trying to figure out where to put the songs.
Do you have creative input on that end?
No, I didn’t want it. I’m not a director, so I don’t know how that vision happenslike what mood goes with what angle and what lighting. That’s Jason’s thing.
I’m sure you’re happy with all the attention, but some of it has to feel a little weird, too. People like me are always up in your face and bothering you when you’re trying to just have lunch.
Well, the only reason it’s harder is because I do have a baby, and I do want to keep playing shows, and I do want to keep meeting people, but it takes like three or four hours just to get through the people who want to meet me. It’s not that I don’t want to do it, it’s just that it’s exhausting. After a normal show, where I play an hour and a half or two hour set, my baby wants some boob. So it’s hard to give people the attention that I want to give, and that they want to receive from me, to so many more people, without neglecting my child and myself. That makes me sad, because I want to do it, and it sucks to have to say to people, “I need space. I need time.” It doesn’t mean I love you less. I’m just so tired I’m dieing.
The fans should cut you some slack on that tip. Does Panda get to travel with you?
She’s always with me.
Does she like seeing mommy in front of all these people?
She’s little. She likes to watch the shows sometimes, and sometimes she doesn’t want to watch. Sometimes when I am meeting people afterwards, she’s like “That’s mine. She’s mine, don’t touch her.”
You’ve always been pretty free artistically and followed your own path, but has the new attention opened any new avenues for you to do even more now?
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