JUST like a bedroom guitarist strumming on a G major chord, Kaki King finds pure escapism in her six-string.
As her fingers dance rhythmically along the fretboard or pluck at the strings, her mind is at peace. Free from the demands of having two children under four, of juggling multiple musical projects and of being outraged by the fractious politics of US President Donald Trump.
“I’m a firm believer in the value of escapism,” King tells Weekender from Brooklyn, New York. “I think it’s very important, very healthy and it gives the brain the rest it needs to fight another day.
“I grapple with this these days because everything currently is a disaster and the world is so difficult to look at and it’s so impossible to live in this country right now with the things that are happening.
“I’ve relied on escapism to get me through my adolescence, my adulthood and I think it’s really valid. I love the escape of the instrument, the off switch. It’s the only thing that gives me an off switch. Everything else is on, on, on.”
Escapism is also at the heart of King’s music. The American guitar virtuoso’s experimental music has captivated global audiences since her debut album Everybody Loves You in 2003. The 38-year-old was famously the only woman and youngest entrant on Rolling Stone’s The New Guitar Gods list in 2006.
Over the past 15 years King has explored fingerstyle, flamenco, jazz and even indie on 2010’s Junior, where she sung. As an artist who’s always eager to push boundaries, King’s 2015 album The Neck Is A Bridge To The Body was her most innovative work yet.
Complete with a dazzling light show, that involves images being projected onto the body of her guitar, the show has toured the world for the past three years.
King is working on the follow-up to The Neck Is A Bridge To The Body. Both she and her fans expect another progressive leap.
It’s a pressure one might suspect is consuming. But King says she has complete faith in her guitar.
“I push my boundaries with the constraints of the six-string instrument,” she says. “It’s what provides the answers, not me. I’ve relinquished all notions of control. As long as I show up for the guitar, it shows up for me and guides the way.
“I know that sounds super hokey and spiritual, but it’s not meant to be and it’s true. I’ve never been the one who says, ‘hey guitar, let’s do this’.”
Australia will finally witness The Neck Is A Bridge To The Body when King tours in August, which will include an appearance in the Sydney Guitar Festival.
More than 500 people will also gather at the festival to play AC/DC’s Highway To Hell in an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the largest ensemble of guitarists.
King will be among the crowd doing her best Angus Young impersonation. “F--k yeah, that sounds great,” she laughs.
Kaki King returns to Lizotte’s in Lambton on August 19.
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