Formerly of anti-folk band The Moldy Peaches, singer/songwriter Kimya Dawson released her latest album, “Remember That I Love You,” last year. Since her solo debut in 2002, Dawson has put out five full-length studio albums, including three in 2004. She will perform with Dufus on Sunday at The ABC Cafe. Staff Writer Ian Holliday spoke with Dawson via e-mail about her audience, her daughter Panda and allusions in her music.
Ian Holliday: Have you ever been to Ithaca before?
Kimya Dawson: Just briefly, one day, a long time ago.
IH: How did you set up The ABC Cafe show?
KD: I asked Seth, from Dufus, where he thought would be a good place to have a show. He did the rest.
IH: You’re playing at Syracuse and Alfred universities and in college towns like Ithaca and New Paltz, N.Y., on this tour. Do you find that your audience is mostly college students?
KD: I have a really diverse audience. I haven’t played at very many colleges but was asked to play at Syracuse. Then the folks at Alfred asked me to play there. We are touring with Panda for the first time … and didn’t want superlong drives. Ithaca and New Paltz were the obvious stops from Alfred back toward the city. Then I was invited to Sarah Lawrence. Even though lots of different types of people like my music, I think college kids especially appreciate my smart-ass take on current events.
IH: Do you think people know you more as Kimya Dawson the solo artist or as Kimya Dawson from The Moldy Peaches?
KD: Both. It used to be that more people just knew me from the band, but I have five solo albums now and it has been a few years since we had a Moldy Peaches show. I do a lot of touring on my own. I have met a bunch of people at my shows who have never heard of The Moldy Peaches or hate that stuff. I also have people at my shows asking me to play “Steak for Chicken.”
IH: I read that you’re “on a mission to hug the world.” How successful have you been so far?
KD: Millions. I have hugged millions, maybe zillions of people.
IH: How did you choose your daughter’s name?
KD: It is Panda Delilah Dawson-Duval. It just came to us at the beginning of the pregnancy. Well, the Panda part. We didn’t want a typical French or American name. We wanted to choose something that sounded just as good in both languages and was not common. We talked about Delilah because her papa loves Tom Jones and I love soft rock. We settled on it when she was 1 day old.
IH: In the song “Better Weather,” you sing, “But I’m a turtle it won’t work / I’ve got to stay out in the current / With my house upon my back so I can hide inside of me.” Is this an allusion to “Slapstick” by Kurt Vonnegut?
KD: It is actually a reference to “Finding Nemo.” I wrote that song for my brother and my nephew. It has references to Raffi, “Finding Nemo” and Cyberchase. I am not sure what part of “Slapstick” you are referring to. I need to go back and re-read it I guess. Maybe I am subliminally bireferencing. I have the cover of “Slapstick” tattooed on my wrist.
IH: The instrumental part of your music is very simple. How many guitar chords do you know?
KD: There are maybe six or seven that I know the names of. And then I lift a finger sometimes or flip it upside down and I don’t know what it turns into. The guitar stuff is secondary.
IH: There is a condition called synesthesia in which a person’s senses get combined. Some people read in color or hear what foods taste like. You’re both a musician and a visual artist. What does your music look like? What does your art sound like? Do they taste like anything?
KD: That’s funny. My music and art look and sound like each other. My art is the visualization of my music. Pink kitties. Yellow doggies. Lots of teeth. It all tastes like ginger and honey.