If you have listened to The Moldy Peaches or to any of Kimya Dawson‘s first three solo albums (I’m Sorry That Sometimes I’m Mean, Knock-Knock Who?, and My Cute Fiend Sweet Princess) you will be familiar with her beautiful use of cassette four track to achieve an intimate sense of solitude. These home recordings make it feel as though you have a friend there with you whispering in your ear. And you do. Kimya is your friend. She is one of those rare birds that make you feel like she needs you as much as you need her. Her songs make you feel needed and important. And her fans/friends have been doing the same for her. Since the release of early Moldy Peaches recordings she has been hearing people say “thanks for making me realize that I am not the only one out there who feels like this” and to this she replies “thanks for making me realize that I am not the only one out there who feels like this”.
Over the past 4 years of almost constant touring and recording and documenting all of her activities at both diaryland.com and at livejournal.com Kimya has become a stronger musician and person with a good team of friends and family all over the world to keep her company wherever she may wander.
With The Moldy Peaches on hiatus she has been performing solo and is almost always on tour. Among the folks she has toured with are They Might Be Giants, The Butchies, Herman Dune, Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players, Third Eye Blind, Jeffrey Lewis, Daniel Johnston, and K records founder Calvin Johnson. And she has played numerous shows with The Mountain Goats and Regina Spektor. She will play in big venues opening for huge pop acts or in your basement with the kids from down the street. It makes no difference to her. She just loves to and needs to play. On separate occasions and on different continents Frank Black (The Pixies) and Kaia Wilson (Team Dresch, The Butchies) have recently called Kimya Dawson a “road warrior”. And there is no better way to describe someone who is most comfortable cruising the highway in her minivan, with her baby(doll) in the back seat, on her way to sing you songs and give you hugs, and probably ask to sleep on your couch. Not because she can’t afford to stay in a hotel, but because she is on a mission to embrace the whole world. Literally.
In her little bit of off time Kimya has sang on tracks by Ben Kweller, Third Eye Blind, The Mountain Goats, They Might Be Giants, Dutch band John Wayne Shot Me, and her brother (and favorite person in the world) Akida Junglefoot Dawson. And in the fun process of becoming a world-renowned backing vocalist, she realized “Hey! I want to have all my friends involved in my next project!” She knew she couldn’t possibly fit all these people in her tiny bedroom in the house she shares with her mother, father, brother, nephew, and which doubles as a day care center during the week. And she knew she couldn’t make it sound good on the four track with so much going on. So she called on her friends in San Francisco and asked if she could record at their studio called Mourningwood. She asked about using studios in St. Ouen, France, Birmingham, England, and NYC for some of the 14 tracks as well. And they all said yes.
One year and 30 some odd collaborators later we have Kimya Dawson’s fourth solo album, Hidden Vagenda [KLP165], which was released October 2004 on K Records. This is Kimya on a rooftop screaming “WE ARE NOT ALONE!!! WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER!!! COME HERE, WE LOVE YOU!!!” with big choruses and big arrangements and friends and toys and long rambling wordy epics and simple acoustic ballads and honest to goodness heart and soul and laughter and tears. She has succeeded in not only making a terrific and unique album, with the production help of Jason Carmer and Arion Salazar, but also in creating an unlikely collage of performers. She laughs as she says, “this song has Stephan Jenkins and Daniel Johnston singing together, this one has Vanessa Carlton singing with my mom, and this one has the drummer of Guns N Roses and all my favorite hippies from the Antifolk scene!”
After Hidden Vagenda, Kimya released two full-lengths: Remember That I Love You [KLP175] in 2006 and her children’s album, Alphabutt [KLP193], in 2008. Between those albums, Kimya played across the U.S. and Europe and has since become somewhat of a household name.
There is something really precious about being alone and sad, but there is something powerful and reassuring about watching someone blossom out of that cocoon, sprout wings, and learn to fly. The world is in a state of disarray and Kimya sees that, but she also sees all the magnificent strangeness and unwavering beauty in the world and in people. And she shows us how to see it too.
Also appears on:
- The Bundles - s/t [KLP214] (2010)
From Kimya Dawson’s album Alphabutt [KLP193], an incredible album of children’s music that delivers uncompromising songs with real stories of heart, soul and laughter…
From Kimya Dawson’s album Remember That I Love You [KLP175], a big thank you to people full of kindness and optimism, and a plea to keep hanging on to those who have all but given up. …
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