I had the chance to catch up with Domino Kirke last week in anticipation of her show at Glasslands tonight w/ Mahogany; she’s been on a bit of a hiatus the last few years since becoming a mother, but she’s back in full force now, and has a lot of exciting things coming up on the horizon. We talked about how motherhood’s affected her musical creation process, how she feels about the Williamsburg of today vs. the Williamsburg of ten years ago, and what we can look forward to from her in the next couple of months.
(Photo by Skye Parrott)
So how was the show with Holly Miranda? I got tied up at work and only made it out for her set; I was super bummed to have missed yours!
It was good! It was kind of amazing, it was a bit like my coming out party; that was my first show in over four years. Before I had my son I was performing so regularly that I was hoping after the first song it’d be like an old hat, but it wasn’t, it was kind of intense. But it was awesome, I had a great time.
I recently spoke with Beth Orton about how her motherhood experience has affected her musical creation process, and she made a point to say that the music never really went away, she just had this new, separate obligation where she wasn’t able to get into the studio or play shows all the time. How do you feel that being a mother has altered you as a musician?
Well, growing up in a family of artists, I always imagined it was possible to still do your art while you were raising your children. I grew up around a lot of amazing chaos, because these people were still very much in their element, but they were fathers and mothers and had careers, and things just kept rolling. For me, when I had a child everything really had to just come to a standstill, because I didn’t feel like I could separate those two parts of myself. I was actually kind of shocked, because despite having had the upbringing that I did, once my son was in the world, I couldn’t imagine going on tour or spending any time away from him, really.
I knew I was going to have to take a break, and hopefully come back better for it. I started writing, but it was more for myself because I knew I had to keep something going; the actual performing and the persona and the ego aspect of being an entertainer really went away from me. So I had to be really patient with myself, but it was actually a much-needed break, anyway. And during that time I also became a doula and a birth attendant midwifery student.
Yes, I heard about this!
Yeah, it was amazing to find this whole other path and put the music aside (but not totally put it away), and then when I was ready to go for it again, it was right there where I’d left it.
That’s great! Well, tell me a little bit about how being a doula; does it have any affect on how your able to schedule things musically or otherwise?
Well, I run an agency slash collective in Williamsburg (I’ve been living there for eleven years), and the community is very tiny. I just wanted to start something that would keep me honest. I’ve got two partners and we’ve got about twenty-two doulas that work with us, so as a director, I’ve been able to come out of the whole being on-call thing and make space for creative projects. I don’t think I’ll be taking any gigs that are outside of New York for a while, but I think within the year when my record’s done, I’ll feel more confident to leave and take a few days to go out to other places.
So as a fairly long-time resident of Williamsburg, how do you feel about the way it’s transitioned into what it is now? I know there are a lot of mixed emotions floating around.
You know, it’s funny, I feel like I kind of grew up with Williamsburg; I was twenty and dating and drinking and doing drugs and being crazy in this neighborhood, but then all those people who were around me during that time also had their babies and got married around the same time I did. I think it was a big shock to suddenly begin to be bombarded with so many people moving to Williamsburg, but it’s also kind of a blessing, because they’ve become my clients, and my whole business is basically able to run just in Williamsburg and Greenpoint. And there are a lot more kids, which is great for my kid; it’s like a little village, and I don’t leave my ten block radius unless I’m going to work or playing a show.
Well, between working and being a mom, do you find the need to carve out space in the day for writing? I know that for me, I’m not able to really plan when I’m going to do it and so I don’t, but some people make sure to reserve that time on a daily basis.
I’m not very good at carving out specific times, but I’ve been working with friends who’ll be my band for at least the next ten shows or so, and they call me up and ask me if I want to rehearse. I think I need that kick in the ass a little bit with music, because I’m so used to being in the maternal grind that I never really switch it off. I love being part of a group and in a band setting, and my bandmates are the ones getting me into the practice spaces these days. It’s great.
Fantastic! And have you got a full-length coming out anytime soon?
It’s in the works; we’ve got some songs written, and we’re going to do a few more and head into the studio in January. I’m also going to be making a little side project with my friend Luke Temple (Here We Go Magic), who’s one of my favorite musicians out there. And then I’ve also got a residency at the Ace Hotel coming up in December. I think it’ll be the local New York lines until the spring. The goal is to just keep playing while I make the record.
Lots of good things on deck for Domino Kirke! Be sure to follow her on Twitter for all the latest updates.