Modern musical artists have more genres than ever to choose from when exploring their creative paths through life. For some artists, however, genre is not a principal concern. Composer and guitar virtuoso Kaki King has been labeled “a genre unto herself” by Rolling Stone, and her multi-media show “The Neck Is a Bridge to the Body,” provides audiences with an experience that is unlike any other.
Produced in collaboration with “visual experience company” Glowing Pictures, and presented by Santa Ana Sites, King’s show combines her innovative guitar playing with a radical conceptual execution. Through the use of projection mapping, a custom Ovation Adamas 1581-kk guitar and a large portion of the wall are turned into screens upon which various images provide visual accompaniment for King’s playing.
On the Monday following Saturday evening’s performance, which will take place August 27 at Santa Ana’s The Ritz, Santa Ana Sites’ Artistic Director Allen Moon has arranged for King to visit Santa Ana High School for a class and to answer questions. Prior to that, the Weekly was able to ask King about her upcoming show and about creating beyond the boundaries of genre.
OC Weekly (Scott Feinblatt): I read that “The Neck is a Bridge to the Body” presents an original creation myth. To what extent is that an accurate description?
Kaki King: This is accurate in that in making this show come together I had to become a storyteller. I thought that starting with the original—the creation—would help ease my way into this. So the first five pieces are about the creation of light and sound, and the evolution from simple sounds and images into more and more complexity.
For readers who have yet to experience the sights and sounds of the work, how would you describe the narrative of this performance?
There is no obvious narrative for audience members and they probably shouldn’t look for one outside of the one that holds meaning for them personally. What makes the show work is the arc of the music and the visuals, always interesting but never the same thing as what came just before.
How did you come to work with Glowing Pictures?
I interviewed several different visual production companies and they were by far the most enthusiastic about this project.
To what extent was the visual component of the show developed in conjunction with Glowing Pictures?
The production design of the show was developed by myself and Glowing Pictures. They were also responsible for the creation of about half of the visual content in the show under my direction. The other half was produced by myself and various collaborators. It was a team effort.
Many people have described your musical style as difficult to pigeonhole or totally unique. Along those lines, to what extent do you feel that artists who work within the framework of a musical genre are limited in their expressive capacity?
I can only speak from my experience. I know that framework and systems of limitations can be extremely helpful for my creative process. The guitar itself is ultimately limited in what it can do, so my job is to get as much out of it as possible without actually breaking it. So I’d imagine that genre works much in the same way, but I think Kanye killed genre in 2012 so…
Do you have anything else you’d like to say about the upcoming show in Santa Ana, or about anything else?
Always excited to do a SoCal show!
Kaki King performs at The Ritz, 305 N. Spurgeon, Santa Ana, Sat. Aug. 27. Doors 7:30 p.m., show 8:30 p.m. $15 presale, $22 at the door www.santaanasites.com. All ages.