Khaela Maricih started recording music under the moniker The Blow in 2002. It was for fun, mostly, as her friend Calvin Johnson is the owner of K Records and asked her if she’d like to record some songs. After a few small releases, Khaela teamed up with friend Jona Bechdolt for Poor Aim: Love Songs in 2004. Their brand of low-fi pop songs and joint dance performances on stage began to cultivate a niche audience in their home of the Pacific Northwest. But with 2007’s Paper Television, The Blow outgrew the west coast, and singles like “Parentheses” influenced fans to track the album down, and for critics to include it on their Best of the Year lists.
A week before the release of Paper Television, though, Jona left The Blow to pursue his own musical venture, Yacht, and the success of his collaboration with Khaela was on her shoulders alone. But while this could have been cause for some to retract and let the songs go it alone without any performance or live tour, Khaela embraced the opportunity, and took her live show across the world to impress fans further with her enigmatic, fun, interesting presence.
In the past three years, Khaela has moved from Portland to New York and is readying an album of new songs and is trying them out on select audiences this fall. And she’s coming with even more of a show this time around, as her girlfriend Melissa Dyne is collaborating with her to provide the sound and light work as part of an installation of sorts, while Khaela sings and tells the audience stories, which is exactly what they have come to expect from her.
I met with Khaela before her show in Chicago, and I told her how intimidating it was to attempt to interview and write about her because she was one half of one of my favorite interview pieces I’ve ever read. Shortly after Paper Television was released, Khaela was interviewed by her friend Miranda July for The Believer, and it was in-depth profile/insightful conversation between the two artists that ranged from what The Blow “is” to how Khaela’s mom’s favorite song on the album is sung in French so she doesn’t know it’s about women having sex loudly in the next room over.
Khaela told me that Miranda, a writer/artist/director, had decided she wanted to talk with Khaela and “For The Believer‘ would be cool.”
“She was like ‘I want to do an interview with you because you’re doing something really cool right now.’ In that nice way somebody who has a little more pull can do,” Khaela said. She drank hot tea while sitting across from me, looking marginally different from when I had seen her perform at this venue last in 2007. Her blonde hair now reaches past her shoulders and down onto her back, whereas it used to come just below her ears, giving her more of an androgynous look when paired with her stage outfit of a white button-down shirt and white skinny jeans with sneakers. Now, she’s wearing a turtleneck sweater.