The Mother Load

| 11 Nov 2014 | 02:15

    Kimya Dawson Gave birth to her daughter, Panda Delilah, in July 2006, but Dawson had motherly qualities long before she had offspring of her own.The 36-year-old, born in Newark, New Jersey, and raised in Bedford Hills, New York, grew up in a house that doubled as a daycare center, worked as a camp counselor for kids and has a younger brother. Dawson also essentially served as the babysitter for a young charge by the name of Adam Green.

    Whoa mama: Former Moldy Peach Kimya Dawson used to babysit Adam Green. Now, the solo artist has a babe of her own.

    Dawson moved to Olympia,Wash., in 1991, but she worked at a record store in Mt. Kisco when she came back east to visit family for the holidays. It was on one of these visits in 1994 when she first began talking to Green, who often hung out in the record store for hours. Dawson says that her previous work with kids helped her to handle the young spitfire. “I had all these skills for dealing with unruly children,” she says, which made it easier for her to entertain the “12-year-old, really obnoxious kid.”That kid eventually brought Dawson tapes of himself playing songs, and Dawson encouraged his music leanings by carting him to concerts in Manhattan. Once Green was around 17 and no longer an annoying prepubescent, he and Dawson started to play together. In time, the duo came to be known as antifolk heroes The Moldy Peaches.

    Dawson grew up playing the flute, only starting to play guitar in her mid-20s.When Green ended up moving out to the West Coast in the late ‘90s, the two started playing together “just for fun,” but their musical pursuits turned serious when people started to take notice.They both moved back to New York City in 1999, where they gained a steady following and released LPs on Rough Trade. At first, Dawson says that the collaboration with Green fit because, “It wasn’t like work,” but the band’s founders drifted apart over time, going on an official hiatus in 2004. Dawson says the split came because she and Green stopped sharing the same music ideals, which had included things like wanting to stay on small labels. Dawson also says that she needed to go solo to get away from her maternal instincts that crop up and interfere with the creative process when she is in a band. “I always end up being like the mom,” she says. “It’s really frustrating.”

    Dawson and Green now both pursue solo ventures, but the two did reunite for performances following the 2007 release of the movie Juno.The film’s soundtrack featured music from Dawson as well as The Moldy Peaches’ “Anyone Else But You,” which the band awkwardly performed on The View in January 2008 on a set covered in fake flowers. But despite the smattering of shows with Green, Dawson says she does not foresee a Moldy Peaches reunion. “Now, it’s hard for me to imaging being in a band,” she says. Aside from the sudden notoriety, the year has held other pleasant twists for Dawson.This September, she released her latest solo work, Alphabutt, an album of children’s music.The record’s subject matter ranges from babies knocking down block towers to bodily functions, all sung through the same soothing and playful vocal that Dawson uses on her other work. “A lot of reviews I read are like, ‘This is for people who hate Raffi,’” Dawson says, “but I love Raffi!” The change in material has led to a different sort of crowd attending Dawson’s shows, including about 50 toddlers who stormed the stage at a Chicago show, stealing Dawson’s guitar and accosting the microphones.

    “That kind of chaos completely relaxes me,” Dawson says, though many parents looked on quizzically, wondering, “‘what the hell is going on?’” With a wholesome home and stage life going on, it’s hard to imagine that only 10 years ago, Dawson drank herself into a coma on Christmas day, prompting her to start on the track to sobriety. She has since been sober, and her upcoming show at Bowery Ballroom marks exactly a decade of sobriety for Dawson, to the date. Dawson says the show will be in an open-mic style and that everyone performing that night is in recovery. “It might feel like one big AA meeting,” she says. Best to leave the kids at home for this one.

    -- Kimya Dawson Dec. 26, Bowery Ballroom, 6 Delancey St. (betw.Bowery & Chrystie St.), 212-533-2111; 8, $13/$15.