Playing like a girl is Kimi Recor’s specialty–and vision.
Draemings is the band that coaxes you into cathartic bliss with its eerily honest, stripped-back lyrics and dark, synth-ruled sound. Of course, it helps that Kimi Recor, the singer and multi-instrumentalist behind the project, knows a thing or two about infusing real-life emotion (i.e. post-breakup heartache) into her work, resulting in a kind of musical integrity that can only be derived from going through some shit. Besides cultivating her own voice and releasing the band’s hauntingly good debut EP, The Eternal Lonesome earlier this year, Kimi’s also helping build a platform for fellow female artists: an all-girl collective, fittingly called Play Like a Girl. Their monthly L.A. showcase features some of the best fresh talent in town and paves the way for young girls and aspiring musicians alike. We talked to the self-proclaimed soundphile about the relationship between hardship and success, prioritizing art over relationships, and her former addiction to chaos.
What’s the story behind your band name, Draemings?
When I was coming up with a name for this project, I knew it would have to be centered around dreams and altered states of reality. My boyfriend always adds -ings to the end of so many words, and in the process comes up with these great, strange words; I did the same thing to “dream” and ended up with draemings.
You’ve said that you wrote and recorded your demo in the aftermath of a terrible breakup. Do you think hardship is necessary to produce meaningful work?
I don’t think hardship is necessary to produce meaningful work, but I do think it makes it easier to be authentic. When I’m feeling down or going through something hard, writing songs and being creative is the only way I can feel any sort of catharsis. It lets me work through whatever it is I’m dealing with. It’s really honest. Sometimes, when I’m super happy, I just want to sit around and watch “Murder She Wrote” and eat cookies; the urgency to create is less present. When I was younger, I used to cause myself a lot of pain, thinking it was the only way to access my creativity. Now, I realize I can just draw from the darker experiences of my past instead of creating new ones. It takes a little more motivation, but I think it still creates meaningful work.
You have a unique sound and style. Where do you draw your inspiration from?
A lot of different places. My style and influences change constantly, both musically and aesthetically, but there’s always a dark vein that runs through it. Musically, I’m a soundphile—it’s less about emulating a band than a sound. Draemings has four members, and all of us have real specific things we love musically. It’s blending all of our sonic palettes into one that creates our sound. Aesthetically, I’ve been getting back into ‘90s glam goth a la Twiggy Ramirez. I have always admired artists who are androgynous and alien-like, so obviously I love David Bowie, Siouxsie [Sioux], and Patti Smith. I’m surrounded by some incredibly creative friends who consistently inspire me and help me create the characters I inhabit onstage and in front of the camera. I’m also lucky to be in a band with a bunch of rad freaks who love wearing strange outfits and face paint. We have a lot of fun with it.
You’ve moved around quite a bit over the years. How has this affected your music and creative process?
It’s funny, I never really thought the places I lived inspired me musically, but listening back to all my different projects and bands, they seem almost like a map of my life. I can trace every emotion and perspective. Before I landed in LA, I was a bit of a nomad. I used to really like uprooting myself and the chaos that caused in my life. You could say I was a bit of a chaos addict, among other things. It was really inspiring in a lot of ways and really heartbreaking in other ways. I think my music has always had a sense of longing for something that isn’t there.
The title of your new album, The Eternal Lonesome, is a nod to a recent phase of your life. How do you navigate loneliness as an artist?
I embrace it. When I was younger, I equated loneliness to being alone, and I was so scared of it. I constantly filled my life with people; I never wanted to be by myself. It sounds super cliché, but I took a trip to India by myself and really had to come to terms with loneliness while being there. It changed my whole outlook. I learned to sit alone by myself, to face whatever dark thoughts came into my head. It made me brave, and it made me realize that loneliness is essential for me to create. It’s a place where I can face darkness and not be afraid.
You’ve said before that you relate to people who prioritize their art over relationships. How has living this way worked in your favor, and how has it worked against you?
Since I’ve started looking at life and relationships in this way, it’s changed everything for me. We live in a society that equates the amount of time two people spend together with how much they love each other. And maybe that’s true for some people. I need to dedicate a lot of my time to writing music and working on Play Like a Girl, and my boyfriend spends a lot of time writing and creating his visual art, so sometimes we don’t get to see each other all that much. But when we do, it’s great because we have stories to tell each other, and we get to be excited to see each other. I love passionate, motivated people, because it keeps me passionate and motivated. It hasn’t really worked against me—this is just the way I’m built, and I’m lucky to have found someone that feels the same.
How did the idea for Play Like a Girl come about?
I was really inspired by what Anna [Bulbrook] from GIRLSCHOOL did with her festival, as well as the Riot Grrrl movement of the ‘90s. I wanted to create a monthly showcase that focused on the amazing local female talent of L.A., but also wanted to foster a sense of community and help women connect to one another. I talked to a couple of friends about this idea, and together we formed the Play Like A Girl collective, throwing a monthly event at The Echo and co-presenting and DJ-ing shows all over town.
What do you hope people take away from attending a Play Like a Girl show?
I always hope that someone will discover their new favorite band. We’ve been super lucky to have amazing turnouts and super fun, supportive audiences at every gig. We want it to feel like a community—a place where anyone can go to meet rad, like-minded people. I also think having an all-ages show that showcases female talent is so vital. Growing up, all my musical role models were male, and I felt like there was no one I could really identify with. It’s so cool to see younger girls at our shows who are in awe of the women on stage. I really hope that in their heads they’re thinking, “Someday I can do that too.”
What are your hopes for the future of Play Like a Girl?
We’re currently planning some big surprises for 2017, including the launch of our record label PLAG Records. We love what Burger Records did for the local scene, and we want to do something similar but have it be less about a genre of music and more about a collective of rad women putting out music. We’re also in the process of planning some bigger shows and conceptualizing a mega-festival. We also have some rad collaborations in the works that I can’t talk about yet, but that will definitely be next-level. Beyond that, we just want to continue supporting female talent and other rad feminist collectives such as Women Fuck Shit Up Fest, Grrrl Independent Ladies, and GIRLSCHOOL. L.A. has such a vibrant music scene, and we’re just really excited to be a part of it and facilitate when we can.
Photos by Jeffrey Baum