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I Kan't Spell

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Exception to the Rule: A Plead for Kimya Dawson

Most musicians are full of shit. Let's face facts when we seriously think about the mass quantities of musicians that exist. On my block alone are 3 bands that are signed to minor/major labels that tour with each other, and I swear to God not one of them has any idea what they are doing, why, or who they want to make an impression on. They just know that they don't want to work for a living and being in a band is a good excuse to smoke pot, take acid, stay up late, and hang out with like-minded people that do the same. So... when I see a small act get recognition into something larger I tend to take it with a grain of salt and a small wince considering their only allegiance to start that journey was to fulfill their own desire not to be responsible for anything...not even their own music to a large extent.

But as in all walks of life, there is an exception to the rule.

I have always been the guy that wanted you to love his band. I wanted you to know that there was something GREAT that he helped nurture, from the back room at Sonar or the Thursday night billing at the Ottobar or weekend middle set at the Talking Head. I wanted to bring you on right up until the moment that they made it to something larger. Then I became the guy that was first to be done with them. They didn't need my support anymore.

I don't like to share my art. I don't like to bring other people in on what I love for fear that they will corrupt my so purely chosen appreciation with their sloppy interpretation of what I have honed into a fine tuned care. Basically I don't want someone else splattering their tasteless gravy over a meal I slaved over for an entire day...just because they LIKE gravy.

With that said, the entire meaning for supporting any band is three fold when you think about it.

The first thing about the band that you love is that YOU LOVE THEM. You love the music first and foremost. You love that they sing to some piece of you that no one else addresses. You relate to them and their words or sound with all that's in you. They get to touch pieces of you that no one can and for that you feel as if you have an intimate non-existent relationship with someone. Even though you really don't have a relationship...somehow you really do...

The second is to say, "I was here first." I was here on a Tuesday at the Lo-fi social club. I was here at Fletcher's for Noise in the Basement. Or on a larger stage - I drove to Charlotte to see them when they were playing 9:30 club size venues. You want to say that you broke them...that you discovered them. This gives you some sort of ownership to go along with your non-existent intimate relationship. You have now built a bond with the band and at the end of the day you feel as though at any given time they should welcome you in to their homes and you should split a six-pack while watching Survivor Man on Discovery.

The third and final leg for a band that you love is to say "I've been here the entire time." After they've finished with their popularity and that one single or one album has been extinguished to the Mix 106 relics to be played on the soccer mom drive to can still proudly own the fact that you have purchased every cd after that first cd and you have cherished and worshiped them. You have rung the name of that band on every corner no matter who says that they now "suck".

And let's be honest... anyone that says that ANY band sucks is a moron. Being full of shit is one thing but "sucking" is another. If you get up there and do your thing or put it out... you don't suck. You more than likely aren't talented, and you certainly have nothing new to say, and I wouldn't quit your day job... but if you do it...just like with putting out a book, an article, a position, your own business... if you put it out there then no one can say you "suck" because I can guarantee that those people that say that, have never tried what it is you are trying.

So... on to Kimya Dawson and her new found success. With the movie Juno doing well in the box office, many people are inquiring "What are these songs?", "This is amazing". This is the Kimya Dawson that not only I, but also so many people have sung praises about for so long.

I found her almost 7 years ago. The Strokes were playing their 3rd show ever. It was at the 9:30 club in DC. I was the time... for the Strokes. I went and stood with the other huddled masses and saw what would be the start of a journey for a really great band. The Strokes were IT at that time.

But lost somewhere in that club while people were still jockeying for position and buying enough beers to sustain the show, was a woman in a bunny suit singing about "poop in your pants". Kimya was the lead co-singer of the Moldy Peaches and to see her in person at that time was certainly a shock to my 21-year-old eyes.

My jaw dropped, my eyebrows moved, and I looked around the crowd for someone else's reaction to let me know that it was ok to think this was AWESOME. I found very few people that felt that way. Most thought it was a gimmick. Some laughed. I stood in shock and awe at the biggest pair of nuts I had ever seen take a stage. I felt sorry for the other people that didn't "get it". I felt bad that they turned their ears off because of the freakish appearance of the band. If they had tuned in they would have heard sweet melodic lyrics, with overtones of peace, love, and confusion, more than likely all things that we want or try to understand.

The Strokes came on 20 minutes later. They played. It was forgettable. Kimya Dawson however was not. For me she was the star of the evening. The next day all I talked about was she. Who was she? Where was she from? I had to know everything about this band and especially her.

I traipsed to NY, Philly, Virginia to see them play one-off shows on days off from the Strokes boring tour. Then the Moldy Peaches broke up. Like a falling star they burned out and Kimya was thrown out on her own.

Soundgarden didn't carry her records. She had no website. Rolling Stone didn't publicize her releases. She was in the wind in NY. She played the Knitting Factory ever so often and the Bowery and some place in Brooklyn with sticky floors. She was my ghost.

In 2005 I went to NY for a trip. Kimya had slipped to my back pages and I no longer tried to follow her career. But... when in NY I like to find something that I can't see in Baltimore. I checked the Village for their concerts that night and low and behold I saw her name. It was as familiar as Mac and Cheese and it leapt off the page like a frog from a stove. I had to go. I had to see her. I had been listening to her mp3's from time to time and knew some of her solo material but didn't know about a bunny suit or the rest of her band or what her motif might be.

I showed up at the Knitting Factory with my friend Blake. She gave out free hugs. She played. She yelled at me once. It was amazing. I was rekindled. I had found my ghost once more. By this time Kimya had a local following and even semi-national amongst young gay men and middle school girls. (Still don't know where I fit into that). But it's not like she worked at Toni's Deli in her spare time. She was successful but she seemed toiled in her limitations. The entire show she played a movie that she also directed, and she orchestrated singing lesson with children. She seemed to need to blossom and grow.

That was the last time I saw her.

In the next years leading up until now she moved to Seattle and had a baby (named Panda...yeah Panda) and married. She still played but only really for children and charitable events.

Then the movie Juno came about.

I don't know how they found her or why. But I know they made a great choice. People talk more about that soundtrack then they do about the movie. Her songs are being played on local radio stations and in malls. They appear on "Eclectic Monday Morning" cd's and every hipster and his brother wants a piece of her.

NOW... this is where you would see me break ties. But I am not going to. She may be... *choke* the first musicians that I 100% know deserves this. She deserves it because I know she'll do it the right way...her way... the way she's always done it. While her success may not be monumental or she may not sell a million records, I can almost feel how happy she is to genuinely get her voice and message out to the world. I applaud Juno for taking a chance and - - for the first time in a long time - - I am going to applaud the listeners for making the right choice.

Just realize listeners that now that you have her in your musical life... treat her with respect and reverence. Be there at the end and follow her through it all. I promise you that the love she'll turn out will be well worth your time.

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