Risk and Reward 

Local musician Kris Doty talks about her music

Kris Doty manages to pull off confident and humble at the same time. She's got a new album coming out, Smoke In The Mirror, and though she's proud of the work, she's also quick to recognize her influences. Smoke took nine months to record, and Doty says, "It was kinda like having a baby." Boise Weekly talked to Doty about where her music comes from and where it's going.

Boise Weekly: Where do you draw your inspiration from?

Kris Doty: A lot of it comes from society and just observing people. The combination of beauty and absurdity in the world intrigues me. Darkness can be inspiring as well because there is something so beautiful about chaos. I also find a lot of inspiration in film and novels. I [was] reading Moby Dick for one of my classes and [the song] "Whale" was directly inspired by that book.

Who are some of your biggest musical influences?

Jeff Buckley, Radiohead, Talking Heads and Bjork. Bjork is a genius, and she pushes the envelope on everything she does and always manages to pull it off. Johnny Cash is an all-time favorite as well. He went through a lot of shit and still made something that was beautiful out of all of it.

It's obvious that you put a lot of work into your song content, but what is your philosophy behind it all?

I think that music is a lot like theater. You have to get into character for every song, even if that character is your old self, a new self or a self that you haven't discovered yet. An author of the book isn't always the main character of the book. Sometimes the character says things that they don't necessarily believe in. And as a musician, there are times that songs I perform don't reflect me as a person, but I get into that character to prove a point.

What have been some of your biggest musical accomplishments?

When I was in Portland playing in a band called the 5 O'Clock People, I worked with a producer named Joe Chicarelli, and he taught me a lot about what I wanted out of recordings and music in general. He cared more about the overall feeling of the song and the vibe it put out rather than the tiny things like whether or not all of the notes were perfect and in tune. Watching him work taught me a lot about music and about life. As far as performing goes, I thought it was a wonderful opportunity to perform a song for the 2006 production of the Vagina Monologues. I remember when [ I got] the script and [was asked] to find a monologue that inspired me and write a song about my interpretation of it. [I was given] complete creative control over what I chose to perform and the experience as a whole was amazing.

Is there anything about the Boise music scene that stands out to you?

I have a lot of fans here who are loyal and that alone is encouraging. I think if I could go out to a show and support other musicians every night of the week, I would. These days, I am lucky if I make it to even one. So when I see people coming out to support me as often as they do, I recognize it, and I appreciate it. There are also a lot of people who offer help beyond attending shows. For instance, all of my friends and family stepped in and helped with the album in so many different aspects. My husband Marcus did all of the artwork for the album, and I did what [I had] with the Vagina Monologues in giving him complete creative control. I trusted that he would create something amazing and beautiful, and he did.

Did you ever think it would be possible to make a career out of making music?

Growing up in Nampa, I was kind of ignorant and naive. I never knew that it was possible to do exactly what I wanted to do with my life. I'm not saying that any of it has been easy because there has been a lot of stress and a lot of hard work and it has required a lot of faith. But in the end, all of it has been worth it.

Do you consider what you are doing to be pushing the envelope?

: I think that when you write songs with making money in mind, you aren't writing from your heart. You end up catering to the crowd and playing music that will get people on the dance floor, which in turn will make people buy more drinks and spend more money. As an end result, the venue you are playing for is happy, they invite you to come back and play again, and at the end of the night, you get paid. I mean, sometimes that is OK. But sometimes I don't want to perform happy, danceable songs. There are times that I want to just play songs that are from my heart and are slow and mellow and people probably won't want to get up and dance to. But that's me. That's who I am, and I really don't want to compromise that. It seems like I am taking more of a risk, but it's worth it in the long run. I think, all in all, I am just anxious for the time that people can start seeing music as art again and not just as something to serve as background noise as they eat dinner. I don't think you should ever have to settle, and I hope people start to realize that anything can be accomplished as long as they put their [minds] to it. : : Feb. 16, CD release party, 9 p.m., $3, with Drew Grow, Deluxe and DJ Logic, Neurolux, 111 N. 11th St., 208-343-0886. : Feb. 20, 7:30 p.m., FREE, Record Exchange, 1105 W. Idaho St., 208-344-8010. For more information on Doty, visit www.myspace.com/krisdoty.
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