"I took a poop that's shaped like cock and balls," says Kimya Dawson on the phone from Olympia. "I posted a picture of it online." I wonder if this potty talk has Freudian implications, but I skip the analysis and let her continue, which she does without prompting. "It was so exciting. Everybody poops, right?" Dawson's verbosity on the phone comes as no surprise. Her voice, though slightly raspy, has a childlike crackle and enthusiasm that wraps itself around miles of rhymes per minute. Even the word choice of "poop" over more profane options seems to suspend her in a nebulous space between adult and child.
The topic of this particular bowel movement arose from a discussion about stage fright and overcoming performance anxieties. "I have absolutely no reason to feel ashamed of my thoughts and my feelings because there's somebody here (in the live setting) who feels the same thing and probably everybody can relate to something... I don't have to feel self-conscious about it. I've pretty much gone from being like a totally scared, self-conscious person, to having like no shame at all."
Throwing intimate details up for public scrutiny is par for the course with singer-songwriters, but the zeal and openness, and total self-referentiality, of this Northwest veteran strikes particular chords. Her fifth solo record, Remember That I Love You (K), traverses a highly personal geography, from the goofy "My Rollercoaster" (culminating in a medley that touches on both Metallica and Third Eye Blind) to the hauntingly pretty "France." When breaking down her personal geography she cites growing up a suburban loser in Bedford Hills, New York, before moving out west and attending Evergreen in the early '90s. While in college, she started the Moldy Peaches with a preteen Adam Green on visits back to their mutual hometown.
Longtime lyricist Dawson held back from collaborating with any of her Olympia peers out of a sense of intimidation. With Green, six years her junior, "I met this kid who was little and played guitar and thought I was cool 'cause I knew people out here. So I was like 'Oh, he doesn't know that I'm not cool! I'll just take advantage of the situation.'" What started as a sporadic recording project, became a live entity in 1999 when both parties were living in Port Townsend. Moving back to the East Coast, the duo was soon opening for the Strokes in Europe.
Since the cessation of Moldy Peaches, Dawson has released solo albums on Important Records and K. Remember That I Love You goes meta in a way that mixes honesty and humor with a leveling quality. "Loose Lips" is an ideal posi-core protest song that tosses off lines like "my war paint is Sharpie ink" and "fuck Bush and fuck this war," arriving at the irresistible chant "we won't stop until somebody calls the cops." "I Like Giants" expands on the stark production with mandolins and chimes and backup vocals detailing a real-life conversation that encompasses too many themes to detail here. Her approach mixes glee and darkness with an equally syrupy coating.
Until recently, Dawson, husband Angelo Spencer, and new baby (4 months old) were living under the same roof as her parents, brother, and nephew. She's moved into another familial situation in Olympia, near collaborators and fellow indie travelers like Chris Clavin (Plan-It-X Records) and Matty Pop Chart, with whom she has a split EP. It is tempting to tag Dawson as a folkie of the MySpace and Livejournal generation, as if generations still mattered and it was really so uncommon for artists to eliminate the filters between themselves and their fans. Still, considering the flurry of press that accompanied Moldy Peaches' rise, her commitment to self-booked tours and open-source accessibility is entrenched in the sort of DIY ethics given lip service in punk rock, never mind the fact that she performs acoustic. "It's really cool to be at a party—well not so much with a baby—to be at a party where it's totally loud and insane and sit down with my acoustic guitar and be like, 'Okay, I'm going to play some quiet songs now.' And everybody just sits on the floor and cradles their 40 and looks like they're in kindergarten."