Moldy Peaches' Kimya Dawson rides 'Juno' success

Kevin Amorim
Newsday (MCT)

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.


The Best Metal of 2017

Painting by Mariusz Lewandowski. Cover of Bell Witch's Mirror Reaper.

There's common ground between all 20 metal albums despite musical differences: the ability to provide a cathartic release for the creator and the consumer alike, right when we need it most.

With global anxiety at unprecedented high levels it is important to try and maintain some personal equilibrium. Thankfully, metal, like a spiritual belief, can prove grounding. To outsiders, metal has always been known for its escapism and fantastical elements; but as most fans will tell you, metal is equally attuned to the concerns of the world and the internal struggles we face and has never shied away from holding a mirror up to man's inhumanity.

Keep reading... Show less

In Americana music the present is female. Two-thirds of our year-end list is comprised of albums by women. Here, then, are the women (and a few men) who represented the best in Americana in 2017.

If a single moment best illustrates the current divide between Americana music and mainstream country music, it was Sturgill Simpson busking in the street outside the CMA Awards in Nashville. While Simpson played his guitar and sang in a sort of renegade-outsider protest, Garth Brooks was onstage lip-syncindg his way to Entertainer of the Year. Americana music is, of course, a sprawling range of roots genres that incorporates traditional aspects of country, blues, soul, bluegrass, etc., but often represents an amalgamation or reconstitution of those styles. But one common aspect of the music that Simpson appeared to be championing during his bit of street theater is the independence, artistic purity, and authenticity at the heart of Americana music. Clearly, that spirit is alive and well in the hundreds of releases each year that could be filed under Americana's vast umbrella.

Keep reading... Show less

Two recently translated works -- Lydie Salvayre's Cry, Mother Spain and Joan Sales' Uncertain Glory -- bring to life the profound complexity of an early struggle against fascism, the Spanish Civil War.

There are several ways to write about the Spanish Civil War, that sorry three-year prelude to World War II which saw a struggling leftist democracy challenged and ultimately defeated by a fascist military coup.

Keep reading... Show less

'Foxtrot' Is a 'Catch-22' for Our Time

Giora Bejach in Fox Trot (2017 / IMDB)

Samuel Maoz's philosophical black comedy is a triptych of surrealism laced with insights about warfare and grief that are both timeless and timely.

There's no rule that filmmakers need to have served in the military to make movies about war. Some of the greatest war movies were by directors who never spent a minute in basic (Coppola, Malick). Still, a little knowledge of the terrain helps. A filmmaker who has spent time hugging a rifle on watch understands things the civilian never can, no matter how much research they might do. With a director like Samuel Maoz, who was a tank gunner in the Israeli army and has only made two movies in eight years, his experience is critical.

Keep reading... Show less

South Pole Station is an unflinching yet loving look at family in all its forms.

The typical approach of the modern debut novel is to grab its audience's attention, to make a splash of the sort that gets its author noticed. This is how you get a book deal, this is how you quickly draw an audience -- books like Fight Club, The Kite Runner, even Harry Potter each went out of their way to draw in an audience, either through a defined sense of language, a heightened sense of realism, or an instant wash of wonder. South Pole Station is Ashley Shelby's debut, and its biggest success is its ability to take the opposite approach: rather than claw and scream for its reader's attention, it's content to seep into its reader's consciousness, slowly drawing that reader into a world that's simultaneously unfamiliar and totally believable.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.