Greetings from Atlanta, where ETHEL has just finished the first day of a MONTH-LONG-TOUR-EXTRAVAGANZA. More on that soon, but first…
Kaki King has been blowing up lately, which is why you should all go out and buy her new album, “Glow.” Not to mention- it is SO GOOD. You should turn the volume up and take it for a long drive, or relax with it in the tub. You’ll be sure to find your jam either way.
Oh, and by the way, ETHEL is playing on two tracks– the opening tune, “Great Round Burn,” as well as “Fire Eater.” What a blast to work with Kaki, and I can’t wait to perform these tunes live!
Here’s a great video about her process, and some questions I got to ask her in the midst of all the madness:
1) Your last album, Junior, was all about leading a double life. What’s the mission statement behind Glow and are you still leading that double life?
Junior needed to be written and recorded and toured by the same band, which I was able to pull off but not without some sacrifices. With Glow I feel much more free and open to change.
2) You’re such an impressively self-sufficient musical entity. How did you decide to include some collaborators on this album and was that fun for you?
Collaborating is always fun. It takes pressure off of me, charts a different creative course. ETHEL was amazing, of course, especially being a string quartet that writes and plays more like a band.
3) Two tracks feature ETHEL: Great Round Burn and Fire Eater– thanks for giving us all that heat! To me it really feels like the whole album kind of has an ember at its core. Was there a bit of a fire theme going on?
Interesting! I hadn’t thought of that, but there certainly is an energy to both of those tracks that implies an out of control inferno.
4) What was it like to record with ETHEL and what are your hopes for our upcoming tour together? Have you ever worked with a string quartet before?
It’s incredibly intimidating to work around such competent musicians. With ETHEL is especially so because you all are so well trained and yet so good at working outside of the box and improvising. It’s not something you find often in the classical world. I’ve worked with quartets before but it was usually in the context of just getting some string sounds on the record, and less of a process whereby songs are written with strings in mind from the beginning.
5) Some of the tracks on the album have some great ambient electronics. Was this part or your vision before you recorded or were you a little bit inspired in the studio after the fact?
Definitely inspired by the studio, the producer, and by my not having an agenda going into making this ‘solo’ record.
6) You’ve been known to play around with all sorts of “weird tunings.” Why do you dig that sound and can we hear it anywhere on Glow?
All of the tunings on Glow are “weird” or, more specifically, “open” tunings. That means that within each song I can make a lot of use of the unfretted strings when I play. It allows me to play around a lot with the decay length of each open string.
7) When it comes to writing a song, what’s your process like? Do you find yourself overwhelmed with a melody or an emotion or a rhythm? Do have to run off and write it down in the middle of lunch or do you have to block off time and really make yourself write?
This age old question continues to elude me. I must go into a trance or something, because I really don’t know how it happens. All I know is that if I keep a guitar close by me I’ll pick it up, and if I pick it up I’ll eventually be playing something new, and something new will turn into a song. So, I always keep a guitar close by.
8) When we recorded together, you didn’t have any titles yet. How did you come up with these great names?
Titles are always hard when it comes to instrumental music. ‘Great Round Burn’ is a reference to the sun, because I titled that song during a heat wave in summer, and the piercing cruel midday sun was similar to how bright and aggressive and almost panicked that song sounds.
9) I’m new to ETHEL and haven’t ever really been on a tour before (exciting!!). What words of wisdom do you have for a newbie like me in terms of surviving “on the road”?
Sleep whenever you can, don’t ever say no to a bathroom break, and don’t give yourself a hard time for not doing everything there is to do in a new city.
Also be sure to check out her website: www.kakiking.com
More from the road, soon; in the meantime, glow on!