Friday, September 17, 2004

Feelin' It 

Tonight Khaela Maricich blows The Blow and debuts as a performance artist under her own name. She tried it last year at Machineworks but didn’t have the full kit at her disposal—no video projector, only a half hour format. But PICA saw her potential and, with the urging of fellow artist and mentor, Miranda July, decided to nurture Maricich’s talent. With a residency at PICA, Maricich has been able to develop more complicated work than the pop songs she’s known for as The Blow. Time-Based Art (TBA) Festival press corps member, Cielo Lutino, sat down with Khaela last week and talked about the new phase in her career.

Cielo Lutino: You’re coming out of the whole K Records world, meaning rock shows and DIY events. What made you seek a different arena in which to showcase your work?

Khaela Maricich: I grew up thinking, ‘I wanna be an artist.” In college, I got really interested in puppetry because of the way it seemed like sculptural theater and visual theater. So I always had an interest in these kinds of arts that aren’t necessarily supported in the indie scene.

Here’s the other thing, too: I wanted to perform in a way that you can get support, like grants. A lot of it really has to do with the funding. It’s so shitty to talk about the money, but it’s an economic issue. I’m not gonna get grants in the United States for being a musician. Like, you make the record—and then you get paid. You play the show—and then you get paid. You sell the records—and then you get paid. In terms of having time and money to develop a piece that’s more complicated, it’s really difficult.

CL: You performed at the TBA last year, so you know the audience composition. It’s different from rock shows. How does having a new group of people viewing your work change the way you approach it?

KM: It’s more intimidating to perform for people who know that they’re going to see something that’s art, rather than do this performance piece in a music venue where people have no idea what you’re gonna do. They don’t have any expectation. People who aren’t punk at all, who won’t know the cultural references that I’m making, it’s exciting for me. I can talk to people who are a little more straight. It’s really a blessing.

CL: Although you’ve incorporated different elements—visual art, for example—in past performances, you’re known primarily as a musician. How do you think The Touch Me Feeling will affect that identity and how others perceive you?

KM: People who are going because of the music are going to be disappointed because it doesn’t really have it!

CL: Performance art and music are two different fields. How does your work as a performance artist affect your songwriting and lyrical composition?

KM: One of the things that pushes me towards wanting to make performance pieces is looking for a chance to write songs in different capacities, from different people’s point of view. Because when I’m writing songs for The Blow, I’m writing from my own point of view. That’s the easiest way. It’s the most potent. But I’ve wanted to try and make music that is having a different kind of conversation, songs from various people’s points of view, like an opera. A person who writes an opera doesn’t just write a bunch of songs about how they feel. They write trying to explore the drama between characters, really get into all the different ways of looking at a situation. I’m sure you could do a set of songs that did that, but having the performance piece to structure it so that you could build this big house out of all the different perspectives of the songs—I’m just starting to investigate that.

CL: Let’s turn it around. How does your music background influence your performance artworks?

KM: Having come from a background of playing shows—especially out of Olympia—and being a descendent of riot grrrl culture, you can get up on stage and do whatever the fuck you want. You don’t have to have a good voice. You don’t have to be able to play your instrument. You don’t actually have to be competent. You don’t have to be traditionally attractive. All these things you don’t have to do, it gave me the freedom to talk.

A lot of the art that I see a lot of the time, it has this stamp of being “Art.” People doing it like “Art,” and people come expecting that. In Olympia, I didn’t get that same expectation. It could just be someone singing out of tune and hopping around and trying to say something sincere about what they think.

CL: You’ve said before that your main interest as an artist is creating intimacy with people and that “people are hungry for [being] more than just a passive witness at an event.” What makes you think that?

KM: Well, my sense is that everybody is really lonely. I mean, I know I am. It seems like everybody’s hiding a couple of layers behind themselves and looking for some way to feel that you’re with people ever. I feel like that’s what people go to for a show. They wanna be there, you know what I mean? They wanna see something and get the feeling a thing is happening. Everybody’s there together having it happen, and we’re all, like, having it and just feeling it.

The Touch Me Feeling can be felt tonight at the Weiden & Kennedy Atrium, 7pm. You can also feel it the same time and place on Saturday and Sunday. And, if you open your heart, you might just feel it all the time.

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