Domino Kirke on Staying Busy

Domino Kirke by Shervin Lainez
Domino Kirke by Shervin Lainez

While more and more artists are founding their own labels, very few have second careers that aren’t even related to their music. Domino Kirke’s side-gig became running doula collective Carriage House Doulas, acting as a doula herself even now. Going from her band Domino to motherhood and right back into music as a solo performer, she’s certainly kept busy over the years before even considering her business. We caught up with Kirke ahead of the August 25 release of her record Beyond Waves to talk about balancing careers, flying solo and how she’s teaching her father Simon Kirke (Free, Bad Company) about the music business.

Northern Transmissions: Why did you decide to go solo when you returned to music a couple years ago?
Domino Kirke: By the time I returned to Domino after having my son, I’d learned too much to go back to making pop music. It was necessary to calm it down and go inside more than I had in Domino.

NT: What made now the right time for a full-length record that wasn’t there before?

DK: I’d been putting out EPs for 4-5 years, because I wasn’t ready to write that much. I was working with Luke Temple, trying stuff out, and then he wrote “Paranoid Flowers” and it inspired me to buckle down and write more with him. I had the time since my son was older, I was able to go away for a week and focus on writing and that’s what came out.

NT: I know you’d worked with Luke Temple previously so I was interested into what influenced you to bring him back for this record and what you enjoy most about working with Luke?

DK: I’ve been a fan of his song writing for so many years and we’ve been friends since long before we were writing together. I guess it was just the comfort level and he brings out the storyteller in me. We had a really cool, longwinded way of writing songs, I’d have a long stream of consciousness and he’d find the song in there. It kept feeding the project.

NT: What was it like working with Joan Wasser and Daniel Schlett on this new record, and what did they bring to the process?

DK: Joan is such a one-woman show. I was a fan of hers before being her friend, and we just happened to live in the same neighbourhood and know a lot of the same people. Just the way she works just brought out a certain focus when it came to making the record. She’s just one of the first women I found who could play any instrument as well as a man. I found it really empowering to be produced by a woman who could play as well as any man.

NT: What did you want to do differently on this record, and was there anything you hadn’t really done before that you wanted to push on this release?

DK: My voice. I didn’t want to over-sing on this record, I almost wanted to speak some of them. There was a need for intimacy with the lyrics. In the past I felt the need to perform more as a singer. This is a lot more focused on what I’m saying versus how I’m saying it. That was a big shift for me. I love what I found in my voice aesthetically, and I want to retain that for the rest of my performing career.

NT: Considering you also worked with Mark Ronson before he was such a big deal, do you find yourself still pulling from what you learned at that time?

DK: I really learned how to perform in that band versus how to sing, or make the music. I didn’t write a lot of those songs, I was more the frontwoman, act and look a certain way. I learned how to turn myself on for an audience, how to travel and the lifestyle. To be honest it showed me what I don’t want. Mark helped me come out of my shell in the recording process. Often it would just be me and him.

NT: Do you ever find it difficult to manage both your musical career and Doula Collective especially considering you both run it and work in it?

DK: There’s a reliance on a divine power to help me be of service to these women and have my own music career. It’s stressful for my family and my planning. But I’ve never missed a birth because I was performing, recording or on tour, and I’ve somehow managed to have both coexisting. I don’t take as many births as I used to because I felt like I took on another job with my son. But it feels like something I could always do, and it’s a constant source of inspiration for my writing. They inhabit the same house pretty well.

NT: I know your Dad started teaching you music at a young age and I was wondering considering his pedigree if you still find yourself using what you learned in those early lessons?

DK: It was such a different time. He often gets very nostalgic, visiting me in the studio. He tells me stories of all the managers he met, the private planes at 19. He’s talked about wanting to learn from me now. He’s still putting out music and Bad Company’s still touring but it’s a completely different industry now. We support each other.

Words by Owen Maxwell