Kaki King is a very good guitar player. One of Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Guitarists, she uses a fingerstyle technique, interspersing regular strumming with percussive tapping and harmonics to move through complex melodies at breakneck speed. Impressive technique, though, has never been what it's about for King. She creates songs using a broader palette, conveying emotion by pulling a full range of sounds out of her instrument.
Now, after receiving corrective eye surgery in 2008, she's expanded that palette to include the visual element. Her new show, "The Neck is a Bridge to the Body," uses a technology called projection mapping to turn her guitar into a projection screen, on which images and effects move and change.
King plays in Boston this Sunday as part of the free Outside The Box performing arts festival (though she won't be able to use the projector). We sat down with her to discuss the visual show, her approach to music making and where she wants to go from here.
Did your interest in visuals start with the improvements in your vision in 2008?
I don't necessarily think getting Lasik [eye surgery] led me to making "The Neck," but I do know for a fact that it made the visual world fascinating to me overnight.
I think part of the reason music was important to me was that I could use my ears, and my ears worked great. So for most of my adult life, I kind of ignored the visual world. Painting and art never moved me the way they do now. All this stuff that I never really considered to be as beautiful as people were telling me it was, was suddenly really that beautiful. I got to experience all of this in a new way.