Kaki King is a guitarist and composer. She is known for her percussive and jazz-tinged melodies, energetic live shows, use of multiple tunings on acoustic and lap steel guitar, and her diverse range in different genres.
Her 10-year career includes six LP and two EP albums, as well as multiple scores for television and film. In February 2006, Rolling Stone released a list of “The New Guitar Gods”, on which King was the sole woman and youngest artist. She worked alongside Eddie Vedder and Michael Brook contributing music for the soundtrack to Sean Penn’s Into the Wild, for which the trio received nominations for a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score.
She is also a Hooke Live Sessions artist and one of the coolest, most forward thinking and adventurous musicians I have ever had the pleasure of learning from! Her curiosity proceeds her and it is evident in everything she touches. Can’t think of a better artist to chat 3D Audio and the future of sound with!
Kaki King at Brighton Music Hall, 2015.
How would you explain your relationship to the acoustic guitar?
KK: I’ve been playing guitar and drums my whole life, but the acoustic guitar is something that I end up generating almost all of my music with. I think it’s the most challenging instrument to continue to compose as a soloist on, and therefore the most rewarding.
You have very unique approach to guitar playing, often using various techniques in a single song. Is this something that comes naturally in your songwriting or from somewhere else?
KK: It comes from trying to squeeze all possible sound out of the guitar, the melody, harmony, bass, percussion, etc. All the things I’m hearing in my head I’ve got to work out on the guitar. I’m working with the entire animal, so to speak, so I’ve had to push the limits of the instrument and get really creative in my technique.
You have your own signature Ovation Adamas guitar which you designed. What choices did you make in this design?
KK: My main improvement to it was a pre-amp model that was more properly eq’d for that low sound. Most of the other designs were aesthetic–cleaning up the soundhole epaulette and making it symmetrical, and choosing a black finish with gold hardware.
The Ovation is made of graphite, why graphite?
KK: The Adamas line has the very light and very strong graphite top. It’s incredibly responsive and those guitars can push bass notes like no other.
How important are the acoustics of a physical space when you’re performing live?
KK: Well everything comes down to a good sounding room and a great sound system. That’s where everything has to start for a good live sound.
What advice would you give to new musicians when picking their first guitar?
KK: The guitar doesn’t offer the instant gratification of a piano or drum or even a wind instrument, so my first advice is to be really patient. I also recommend trying to get the best possible guitar in your hands, or at least make sure that the guitar you’re learning on has been recently set up and has new strings.
Where did the inspiration for your interactive guitar piece come from?
KK: I discovered projection mapping and realized I could do it on a guitar while I was playing it. It is a way to show off the personality and versatility of the guitar visually as well as sonically, so it made for a really strong stage show.
In the last few years we’ve seen more attention being payed to binaural, ambisonics, HRTFs and head tracking playback thanks to Virtual Reality. What are your thoughts on this new space?
KK: I think it’s fantastic. As a musician your monitors are always your own ears, so you’re mixing everything you do to the sound that comes exactly to that point. I think being able to record what your ears are hearing will be incredibly helpful and revealing.
A big thank you to Kaki King for talking sound with us and sharing her amazing projects! You can hear/learn more at her website. And make sure to check out her latest album “The Neck Is A Bridge To The Body” on iTunes!
From One Ear To Another,
Hooke Founder and CEO