Kaki King, guitar hero: Boing Boing TV performance, interview with Xeni

One of the artists Boing Boing was excited to "discover" at the recent Outside Lands festival had in fact already "discovered" us. Today on Boing Boing tv, we present singer-songwriter Kaki King.

Pesco says the prolific multi-instrumentalist "plays like a mofo," and boy is he right. The BBtv crew and I caught her live performance at the festival, and chased her down for an interview backstage (literally: our legs were sort of hanging off the side of the platform while guys hauled drums and amps off). We learned that (1) she's a fan of the Boing Boing blog! and (2) she hates comment trolls. Boy do we love her.

Kaki has a new record out, "Dreaming of Revenge," and she's touring the world as I type, with show dates in Europe and the US through 2008.

Rolling Stone named her one of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time,” describing her style as "Van Halen Meets Bootsy." You'll witness why in today's BBtv episode.

We talk with her about life on the road, how IM and social networking help keep her from getting homesick while touring, and how she managed to go from busking in NYC subways to jamming with the likes of the Foo Fighters and hypnotizing crowds of tens of thousands with her rich, distinctive sound.

Link to Boing Boing tv blog post with discussion, downloadable video, and instructions on subscribing to the daily Boing Boing tv video podcast.

Speaking of Outside Lands -- you can find lots of crowd-submitted video, audio, reviews, and cameraphone snapshots of Kaki's performance at Crowdfire.net (the project is a BBtv sponsor).

Related Boing Boing tv episodes:

* Primus: Xeni interviews Les and Ler (music)
* BB Gadgets' Joel at Outside Lands: Crowdfire deconstructed
* Carney at Outside Lands - a "Boing Boing tv Bus Session." (music)
* Steel Pulse founder David Hinds at Outside Lands (music)
* Boing Boing tv backstage at Outside Lands: (Xeni + Russell Porter)

(Special thanks to Bre and Wayne for the bus; to Virgin America for generously providing air transportation)


  1. have tickets to see her and the mountain goats in Philly. Have been a fan of the mountain goats for years, just learned of her.

    1. Fair warning: please be respectful and stay on-topic and polite.

      Kaki King is female, and I am not going to tolerate any creepy passive-aggressive homophobia or genderbashing in this thread. Do so at your own peril, I’ll disemvowel that shit and then I’ll ban your ass. Just because Teresa’s out sick doesn’t mean the trolls own this joint.

      Yes: Miss Kaki King is talented, beautiful, and could demolish your brain with a single chord sequence.

  2. @ #2, Jupiter12:

    Perhaps it was a typo (and I sincerely hope it was) but Kaki King is a woman.

    Dana Devonshire
    Series Producer, Boing Boing tv

  3. nice sounds. thanks for bringing this artist to our attention. though she’s certainly no Michael Hedges, R.I.P.

  4. Disregard my idiotic post from earlier. I foolishly posted before reading the paragraph. I just scanned it and saw the phrase, “plays like a mofo,” and boy is he right.” I thought the word “he” was referring to the musician rather than Pesco. I sincerely apologize.

  5. Xeni: Whatever you did differently in posting the video on this from what is normally done, PLEASE keep doing it. The filters at my work block “Streaming Media”, keeping me away from BBTV, but for whatever reason I can see and watch this here.

  6. I think I first heard about her after reading about the work she did with the Foo Fighters, and Dave Grohl’s high praise of her. I think she’s a great musician, and a cool person.

    Also, she’s touring with the Mountain Goats, and they recorded an EP together? That’s so fucking rad, they’re one of my favorite bands.

    And the orange/pink/brown clothes in the interview remind me of the Zune software. That’s all I could think of while watching it.

  7. As mentioned previously, Ms. King is playing with the Mountain Goats, and I’m going when they hit Belly Up in San Diego on October 28th. Any other boingers going to that show?

    Mmmmm…Delicious Mountain Goats.

  8. Well, gee Jupiter, maybe if you had read a little more before you commented, you would have realized that Ms. King is a woman. K? K. And, now I am intrigued, I think I’ll go see her play at The Pabst in Milwaukee. I may have a crush on her, doy.

  9. Good to see BB showcase Kaki, I’ve been a fan since I heard her on NPR. I even volunteered on that music video w/ the light drawing, and she was good sport during the shoot, standing still in the freezing cold for hours while people ran around waving flashlights in her face.

    I wish more young women would be exposed to this (don’t know the demographics, but I’m guessing BB has a higher male readership), there aren’t enough female musicians who are known for their instrumental prowess. Her last album is very indie, but she also plays instrumental music that manages to avoid being wonky and unlistenable, it’s not just show-off music. Girls need a guitar hero they can look up to.

    Those previous comments on this post just prove what Kaki said about message board commenters. I’m very annoyed that people are judging this person’s looks rather than her talent. I feel like a guy can look however he wants and have a career as a musician, but women have to be sex symbols that can also sing (and some just have to be good-looking to have a career, music be damned). Mick Jagger is downright ugly, David Byrne’s no looker, either (I could go on, Tom Petty, Ozzy, etc.). Hey Xeni, how about we just go ahead and delete some of these crap comments, this ‘disemvoweling’ thing doesn’t work, people can still derail the conversation and just generally be anonymous jerks online. This is your guy’s site and it should exercise its editorial control in exactly these types of situations.

    Oh, and that Rolling Stone blurb which describes her sound as “Eddie Van Halen meets Bootsy Collins” is pure BS, it’s just some hack musc writer that doesn’t play guitar pulling something out their ass.

  10. tim o’reilly must have a lot of friends in outer space. here on earth its pretty hard to get more than 12,400 or so miles away from anyone.

  11. Considering that the earth is about 25,000 miles around at its widest point, having all your friends be 40 – 50 thousand miles away is pretty impressive!

    That’s about how far away the moon is –

    I assume that means that either you or your friends live in near-earth orbit. Which is AWESOME.

    All kidding / stickling aside, Kaki’s music is wonderful, and the videos are beautiful – thanks for this post.

  12. Argh – proofread, proofread! Actually the moon is considerably further out, about 200,000 miles away. Just to say before someone nitpicks my nitpicking. I’ll shut up now.

    Music, yeah. Great music.

  13. @#8 Jupiter12, hey, no harm done, you’re cool. I’m sorry to have assumed the worst, but sometimes people are jerks!

    @#15 dagfooyo, you’re right, I spazzed on the math! 4,000 was probably what that tweet actually read. But, I am an art major, and I was using numbers for dramatic effect. And while we were doing this shoot, my mobile fact-checker assistant was off getting a vegan taco near the stage where Cold War Kids were playing. We’ll fire them post haste.

  14. Shes pretty talented, going to have to get some of her music… stuff like this reminds me why I read BoingBoing.

  15. warning–I’m going to be shallow and mention SHE BE HOT–
    and she’s smokin’ hot talented too!
    Thank you Xeni for tacking her onto BoingBoing! ^_^!

  16. I know she’s got an amazing talent, and I know she’s got her own, distinctive voice, but I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to hear her and NOT think of Michael Hedges, which is sad (and makes me sad, missing Michael all the more…)

  17. It’s funny, I never knew she “was something big”… she played a gig at a bookstore in Boston that I used to work at a little over a year ago. I just dug the music & used it in the playlist for my wedding.

    Glad to read this post.

  18. Haha, I think we should simplify the moderation policy: Ask your self, “Would Kaki King hate me if I wrote that?”

  19. With such a wide readership, maybe it’s worth asking: Does anyone know how to do that stuff she’s doing in the credits? Absolutely amazing guitar playing.

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