Good acoustics: A Q&A with Kaki King | News | Palo Alto Online |


Good acoustics: A Q&A with Kaki King

Acclaimed composer/guitarist to offer free performance at CSMA this weekend

Kaki King is a guitarist, composer and producer known for her virtuosic and inventive acoustic guitar compositions, showcased in her multiple albums of original music, plus scores for films (including the Golden Globe-nominated score for "Into the Wild"). King will offer a free concert at the Community School of Music and Arts (30 San Antonio Circle, Mountain View) on Saturday, Jan. 18, at 7:30 p.m.

Your music, while obviously guitar-based, involves a lot of percussive elements. How have you developed your unique style over the years?

I've been the only person onstage a lot of the years, so I've developed techniques that help fill in whatever the ear thinks is missing.

Are there any stereotypes or misconceptions you've had to fight against as a guitar player, composer and/or artist?

Misconceptions are a result of stereotypes and I've definitely had to fight that a lot. Mostly it's when I show up with a guitar case, an acoustic guitar no less, and I'm given no respect until I start playing, and then whatever sound person or crew member I'm dealing with suddenly has my attention and takes me seriously. The problem is that I should be taken seriously no matter what. Everyone should.

Who are a few of your own musical heroes?

I like Nick Drake and PJ Harvey. Anyone who is British and inscrutable gets a check in my book. I gravitate toward Russian composers --Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, Stravinsky, etc. These days I listen to Lizzo really really loudly and hope my kids don't pick up too many curse words.

When composing instrumentals, how does the piece serve to express your thoughts and feelings, to act as your "voice," as it were?

My songs aren't meant to mean anything. They often come from a place of inspiration for me personally, but just as often they come from seemingly nowhere. I'm not trying to get any meaning across. I just hope that people like to listen to them and maybe the song will knock something loose in their brain that was holding them back.

What has surprised you over the course of your career thus far?

It's a miracle that people will still pay money and drive in a car to see a music show. Just think about how many choices people have now, and when they choose that it's really an unbelievable honor.

More information is available at and CSMA.

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Like this comment
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 16, 2020 at 2:10 pm

In a related matter, to my way of thinking, I have a guitar show, hard-ticket at Mitchell Park Friday featuring Johnny A; and I have an ad running in these same pages, The Palo Alto Weekly for jazz shows led by Marta Sanchez, Patricia Barber, Jenny Scheinman/Allison Miller, and Myra Melford, all separate admissions, by Earthwise of Palo Alto.

Kaki is worth checking out, no doubt. you betcha. Actually, she and Johnny A had the same agent, Michael Kappus of Rosebud, a leading roots agency.

Like this comment
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 16, 2020 at 2:11 pm

But I'm going to Gunn Paly hoops, oops.

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