The Blow's Khaela Maricich Talks Art, Hairdressing, and Falling in Love With Girls
Khaela Maricich has no problem sharing the most personal details of her life with the public. Over the last week alone, she's told the world about the embarrassing dance move she performed at a New Year's Eve Party, her admiration for Tina Fey, and how when she went to Denmark as an exchange student at age 17, she fell in love with a girl.
That's why, when it came down to it, the musician and visual artist who comprises electro-pop act The Blow didn't mind sharing a few things with us before taking the stage at The Florida Room tomorrow night.
Crossfade: What is the Blow and how did you start performing under that name?
Khaela Maricich: The Blow was something that a young friend said one time when the wind was coming in through the door. "Close the door, the blow!" I had been performing as Get The Hell Out of the Way of the Volcano, which was something that this guy in town had written on a placard -- he was obsessed that Mt. Rainier was going to erupt, and I guess he was trying to warn us. So I used that name for a while. And then at some point it just started to seem really long and cumbersome, so I shortened it to The Blow, because it seemed like basically the same idea. After I had changed the name, I was walking down the street and a different guy who I had never seen before walked up to me in the park and said, "I'm gonna sing you a poem." He then started singing something about, "Blowwwww Vesuvius! Blowwww Vesuvius!," which I guess was about the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in Pompeii 1000 years ago. I took it as an omen that my name change was a good choice. So, it appears that I take my names from things said by toddlers or people who spend a lot of time on the street.
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When did you start incorporating art into your life as a musician?
When I was a kid, I was always certain that I was going to be an artist when I grew up. Sometimes I would say I wanted to be a writer, and now and then I thought I would be a hairdresser. (It doesn't look like that's going to pan out.) But it always came back to the idea that I would make things, because I loved to draw and write and do sculptural types of things. I never really had that much involvement with music. It came as a real surprise to me in college when I suddenly wrote a song on the ukelele for a friend's talent show, and found that I enjoyed performing in front of people. So it's sort of more like I incorporated music into my life as an artist, from my perspective. Writing songs felt like a really natural way of being able to express myself, and a more direct way of saying the things that I cared to express than was possible with drawing or making physical work. I am pretty extroverted, and stumbling across a medium that let me share that much of my thoughts and emotions with an audience was exciting.
The blog entries on your website take a detailed, intimate look at your life. Do you consider storytelling a part of your art?
Yeah, I suppose I really do. Like I said, I thought a lot about being a writer as a kid, so it's something that has always mattered to me. I see my website and the performances as two different ways of exploring the things that I am thinking about. The site is like nonfiction, a place where I explore the data of my observations and report on it directly, while the monologues in the performances offer more room to consider things less literally. I am always interested in finding things that feel true and talking about them, and sometimes telling the truth can happen by saying things that are maybe a little bit unreal.
In a lot of your posts, you describe growing up and being into girls. Does that define you in any way as an artist?
I believe that everything that happens to a person defines the way that they move through the world. So yeah, it's probably true that liking girls has affected the way that I make things. I think that maybe for me it was like a little sense that I was kind of weird, not fitting in with everybody else. Kind of like there being a little piece of sand in the oyster that makes you feel itchy and [you] have to scratch around and make things in order to try and soothe the irritation. Though, there are certainly a lot of other factors that have gone into my particular way of approaching the world, one of the most important being the influence of both of my parents. Neither of them are artists, but they each have their own way of being very skilled with handiwork and creative thinking. Also, my mom just doesn't care at all what anyone thinks of her and she just does whatever she wants to without ever being embarrassed. I think this might have had the biggest effect on me of anything, really.
You've been working with artist Melissa Dyne. Will she be at the Florida Room with you?
Yes, this current album and performance is a collaboration with Melissa Dyne. She is an installation and conceptual artist. (And full disclosure, she's also my girlfriend.) We have been working together on the project for about a year and a half. It's really exciting to be working with her, because she adds layers to all the elements of the project. She has done a number of big solo shows in museums and works frequently with light and sound waves. So her addition to the the live show and the recordings has a lot to do with the physics of how the lights and the audio move through the space -- either the space of the venue or the space between your ears. Every night when we get to the venue, we look at what will be possible with that particular space and try to treat the space like an installation, putting our show specifically into that place with whatever possibilities it offers.
What kind of show can we expect tomorrow?
Well, there will be music coming out of the speakers, and me on the stage, and Melissa at the back of the room, and lights, and words coming out of my mouth, and Melissa responding to my cues, and me responding to hers, and hopefully all of these things together add up to something interesting. I feel pretty hopeful about it!
The Blow. Saturday, July 2. The Florida Room, 1685 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. The show starts at 11 p.m. Call 305-672-2000 or visit delano-hotel.com.
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