[4 April 2008]
Kimya Dawson is talking, but you know her eyes are surveying the road ahead.
“We’re on a mission to find a playground,” the star of the chart-topping “Juno” soundtrack says last week as her husband and opening act, Angelo Spencer, steers the couple’s minivan. The littlest one in the entourage, baby Panda Delilah, all of 20 months, is quiet in the background.
“I got a good one,” the proud momma says of her girl as the family heads toward Fort Myers, Fla. It’s because of another baby - albeit a fictional one - that Dawson’s career has seen something of a rebirth, too.
Half of the Manhattan anti-folk duo the Moldy Peaches, she became almost as much of a household name as Oscar-winning “Juno” screenwriter Diablo Cody. “I didn’t think it wouldn’t happen,” says the 35-year-old singer-songwriter with a knack for ragamuffin spoken-sung melodies. “I just didn’t expect the movie to be as big as it was.”
Dawson has the film’s star, Ellen Page, to thank for turning “Juno” director Jason Reitman onto the Moldy Peaches, a duo specializing in off-key, childlike ditties, strummed on beginner’s guitar and recorded lo-fi. The band, which is on hiatus, is Page’s muse, apparently. Reitman especially liked “Anyone Else But You,” which is featured a second time in the film with Page and Michael Cera’s BFF characters singing to each other. “This song ... defined the sound of the film: a patchwork of homemade sounds made by teenagers whose ... honesty rang through the crappy tape recorder used to capture their chicken-scratch lyrics,” the director writes in the soundtrack’s liner notes.
Dawson, who now lives in Olympia, Wash., still employs those “chicken-scratch” stream-of-consciousness words, it’s just that more people are hearing them now. The soundtrack, on Rhino, bounded up the charts to No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200 in January.
“The shows are a little bigger and we have more opportunities to play other countries - we’re going to Australia and New Zealand in June,” she says. “Oh, and I’ve been able to afford health insurance for the first time in 15 years.”
In August, she plans on releasing “Alphabutt” (K Records), a children’s album that utilizes kids from toddler to teen singing and playing instruments with her. “It’s a little more free and fun,” Dawson says.
More fun? That’s hard to believe, especially if you remember the eponymous Moldy Peaches album from 2001 (sample song, “Who’s Got the Crack”; sample lyric, “I like it when my hair is poofy/I like it when you slip me a roofie”).
She reunited with the other Peach, Adam Green, for a performance on ABC’s “The View” in January. But a full-scale reunion won’t happen “anytime soon,” Dawson says.
She says the same thing about having another baby: “Not anytime soon.” Because she’s got a good one right now.