Issue 12  •  Spring 2013

Got To Have Kaia

Written by Katy Otto
Kaia1.jpgI caught up with Kaia Wilson on the final leg of her current tour playing lead guitar with Amy Ray (of the Indigo Girls, for those of you a little late to the game). For the first stretch she was performing from her most recent solo album as an opening act – Two Adult Women in Love, coming out this month on Jealous Butcher Records. I have had the pleasure of knowing Kaia personally for a few years now, after a long stretch of just existing in the realm of fandom over her seminal queercore rock band, Team Dresch.

Kaia1.jpgI caught up with Kaia Wilson on the final leg of her current tour playing lead guitar with Amy Ray (of the Indigo Girls, for those of you a little late to the game). For the first stretch she was performing from her most recent solo album as an opening actTwo Adult Women in Love, out this month on Jealous Butcher Records. I have had the pleasure of knowing Kaia personally for a few years now, after a long stretch of just existing in the realm of fandom over her seminal queercore rock band, Team Dresch. Can’t say I didn’t get a little jolt of excitement at the chance to interview her and talk music. I guess I am what she referred to before we formally started as a liferone of those folks who will stay compelled by music well into her thirties, when it certainly ain’t paying the bills. Talking to Kaia, I think I am in good company.

Katy: Why did you name this album Two Adult Women in Love?

Kaia: I chose the artwork for the cover first. I showed it to my record label friend Rob Jones, a photo I had taken at Mount Hood. I named the record based on this photoit was a simple description and label of what the photo depicted. It just sounded good to me as a phrase. And I’ll be holding the gay flame for the rest of my life, so there was thatwaving the lesbian flag yet again.

Katy: How does your process creating solo work differ from writing in the context of Team Dresch or from collaborating with Amy Ray?

Kaia: The initial writing of songs is more or less the same99% of songs I write on an acoustic guitar, even with The Butchies and Team Dresch. If I write a song it either is or isn’t going to be a band song. Some of these new ones on the record I heard as a full band, and some I knew were just guitar and vocals. I had collaborators on my solo record thoughJody (Bleyle) and Marci (Martinez) from Team Dresch joined and they wrote their own parts. There were also strings, and the people who played those wrote their own parts, as well. All of these songs come from the same place in me.

My lyrics always come after a melody. The melody inspires a feeling which inspires lyrics. I’m a sensory-based humanI live in the right side of my brain when writing. When I am recording, I start from the skeleton of a songguitar and vocals. Then I add parts, and the first stuff I add is usually the best. I tend to make the best music when I am in the moment and don’t think about it too much.

Katy: Was this the first time harmonica played a role in music you played? Who played it?

Kaia: My 3rd solo album, Oregon [on Mr. Lady Records] has harmonicaactually, my last two solo records both have it. I play it myselffull-on mutherfuckin’ folk singer! It is intuitive. I play by ear and it is a great instrument for thatit already has you in the right scale as long as you get a harmonica in the right key for your song.

Katy: What music has been inspiring you lately?

Kaia: Amy Ray, because I am all in it right now. She inspires me musically, and as a person and an activist. Weirdly, I’ve been listening to Enya! Hehe. So gay. I covered some Enya songs on this tour. I just saw the Bob Marley documentary. I love early Wailers stuff. Always Jenny Hoyston. She has a project called Hallways of Always with William Elliott Whitmore that is amazing.

Katy: I keep obsessing over the song, "A Clade Called Cetartiodactyla.” What does it mean?

Kaia: I am not an academic. I went to college for a year. But I do love learning, anything to do with science and animals. My songs are predominantly about animals, nature, and girls. Cetartiodactyla were animals that were ungulates preceding whales. They were land-based precursors to whales. They actually evolved back from land to the water. Clade is a fancy way of saying the class of animals.

Kaia2.jpgKaty: “Love Light Like” and “The Cabin” strike me as more atmospheric songs that the rest. Did you approach these differently?

Kaia: “The Cabin” was definitely approached differently, with a lot of delay and reverb. It is a really tripped out song. I slowed down “Love Light Like,” and directed the strings to play sort of spooky and non structured. I haven’t performed “The Cabin” yet because I’m not sure I can replicate it. That’s what I like about recordingall the options to do things you can’t do live.

Katy: What are your touring plans for this release?

Kaia: I am hoping to tour for the next year in support of this record. I hope to open for people I love. I will probably also book a lot of it on Facebookit is about the closest we can get to the old network for shows.

This record was funded through Kickstarter. I am intensely grateful to my fans for contributing because I do not have money to put music out in a physical form. They funded it to be released on both CD and vinyl with a limited run of purple vinyl available.

Katy: You alluded to this before, but how is playing music and booking shows in 2012 different for than it was in the DIY scene of the 90s?

Kaia:  That's such a hard question to answerif I went back to 1993 now at thirty-eight years old, how would I feel? There was a lot of gratitude that you felt then, and you feel it sometimes at shows nowbut back then there was riot grrrl and the queercore scene, it was a special time to be making music.

I am hoping this changes, but the queer and I mean visibly queer music community is still necessary. We need to communicate through music and art. One in three suicides are related to queer identity. It was like that when I came out in the late 80snot that much has changed, and it really needs to. So I'll continue to raise up my freaky gay flag!

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