A lone figure sits on stage with a stark, white guitar and begins to play. The stage goes black before the guitar explodes with light and flashes images of ocean waves, buzzing wildlife and electricity.
This is solo guitarist, Kaki King’s unique project that fuses guitar melodies and visual storytelling into an innovative performance that she’s bringing to the Kirkland Performance Center (KPC).
The unique performance, “The Neck Is A Bridge To The Body,” utilizes projection mapping to cast colorful textures, shapes and “visions of genesis and death” onto King’s guitar, which was customized specifically for the project.
“No one else is doing projection mapped guitar work, playing and composing the way I do,” King said. “Expanding the visual aspect of the guitar was a natural way to keep pushing the boundaries of the instrument.”
King has released eight albums, performed with numerous bands, including Foo Fighters, Timbaland, and The Mountain Goats and contributed to a variety of film and TV soundtracks including Golden Globe-nominated work on Sean Penn’s “Into The Wild”.
Currently, King is on a world tour and will visit the KPC on April 5. Her first album, “Everybody Loves you”, was released in 2003 and she hasn’t stopped developing her art since then.
“I never had a grand scheme,” she said. “I just kept taking the next right step. Kept working and trying and experimenting. Same thing still works for me today.”
“The Neck Is A Bridge To The Body,” is her latest project, which King created in 2014. The entire show revolves around King’s signature Ovation Adamas guitar. King created a visual experience that is projected onto her guitar, throughout the hour-long performance, as she plays.
“I’m a guitarist and I try to push the boundaries of the instrument as far as I can,” King said.
King added that she’s grown a lot over her 15-year-old career. Originally, she said she didn’t even want to perform for a living.
“The idea terrified me,” she said. “I just ended up having to quit all my other jobs because eventually touring and performing was taking up all of my time.”
The music hasn’t been King’s only change over her career. She started out as a self-described “lonely depressed gay teenager” and is now a married woman with two children.
“Some of my early work was the best because there was no pressure for it to be great or do or say anything,” King said. “I will say I’m a much more stable and well adjusted human being, but most people can say that of themselves between 23 and 38.”
King added that there was an unfortunate shift in her fan base throughout her career. She said she lost an intimacy with her following as it grew.
“It was sad when I realized things had changed,” King said. “I used to have fun times hanging with fans early on—back when there would be 30-40 people at a gig. Now due to the actions of some super weirdos I have to protect myself a lot more. I’m an open person but I have to be careful who I’m letting into my world sometimes.”
King has been touring with this project since 2014 and has numerous shows scheduled throughout the country throughout April.
Currently, her final tour date is scheduled for Aug. 10 in Australia. Afterwards, King plans to spend some time with her family before working on her next projects.
“I’m excited for my son to start walking, talking and eating solid food, and I want to teach my daughter to read,” King said. “After that, I’ll focus on more art.”