Listen to the show: Sun, June 10, 2012 10:00AM
Connie-Kim was born in the middle of Hollywood. Even there she felt odd. As a child she would walk around the house on her hands, so she could see what the world looked like upside-down. At six years of age she joined the Bluebirds, but quit soon after, deeply disappointed that they never traveled to even slightly exotic lands. She began teaching herself to play the guitar and piano, writing her first song in the third grade. She loved music, but she also loved dance. The year that followed was tumultuous. She began to question her initial plans of becoming a nun, a flight attendant, a spelling bee champion.
Soon she was off to art school to study ballet and modern dance at the revered North Carolina School of the Arts. There, between classes, she would sneak into the piano room and write songs that she would perform with her band at night. Before long she was living in New York city, warming up on stage with a dozen dancers and Mikhail Baryshnikov, and travelling to all those strange and faraway lands she had always dreamed of. She brought her guitar with her everywhere, but she still missed music too much; and in a sudden moment, she decided to hang up her dance shoes.
Cheered on by musical greats Van Dyke Parks, Scott Litt, and Grant Showbiz, Connie-Kim’s first release arrived, with songs described by one reviewer as “jagged daggers dipped in honey”. Raised on opera and classical, and in love with electronic and ambient music, her influences are wide ranging: Serge Gainsbourg, Ennio Morricone, Aaron Copland, Laurie Anderson, desperation, Tom Waits, Jiri Kylian, Diane Arbus, Francis Bacon, New York city, Mark Rothko, Italo Calvino, wonder, and the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds. Her upcoming CD, ponderosa, co-produced with Mike Schmid, unwraps in a series of unsettled and sparkling moments, drifting through recollections of western spaces better left to memory. What started off with the $22 she had in her pocket is now a collection of panoramic jewel boxes combining string bass, violin and other acoustic instruments, electronics, and things found in the kitchen. Connie-Kim is in Los Angeles now. You might see her perform at the Hotel Cafe, the Harold Williams Auditorium at the Getty Center, or a hidden coffeehouse. Whether accompanied by Daphne Chen of the Section Quartet or George Schwindt of Flogging Molly, she might sing you a song about an eastern city or a trapeze artist who’s afraid of heights. Someone once said if Mary Poppins and Leonard Cohen were lost at sea on Federico Fellini’s dinghy, they’d be singing songs by Connie-Kim.