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news Archives - CHRISTIAN KIEFER


I tell you now: there are no epiphanies.

Category: news (page 1 of 4)

Fahey Dizz

Fahey playing over the hidden speakers at California Adventures. Brown acid?

The Infinite Tides

It is official.  My novel, The Infinite Tides, is out making the rounds of publishers. Super agent Eleanor Jackson has the reins now and I am trying to have the patience of a zen master.  A dear mentor / famous writer friend wrote a nice blurb about how good the book is, which helps matters a great deal (and is quite the ego boost for yours truly).

Incidentally, if you’ve been paying any attention to the novel writing/editing as it has unfolded here, you might not recognize the new title.  The working title had been Gravity but I’d never been that fond of that as a title.  The clincher was reading that George Clooney and Sandra Bullock have a movie in development called Gravity (about astronauts too).  And so, yes, The Infinite Tides, a title I like a great deal more anyway.  I would have called it The Remains of the Day but Ishiguro took that one.  Ishiguro has all the good titles.

In other news, perhaps related to the above, I’ve been pondering making a new record and have been demoing a few pieces in that direction.  These are somewhere between the slow funk of War, the weird swamp grease of Dr. John’s Gris-Gris, and some kind of minimal folk experiment.  It has a groove to it but is all slow and, I hope, spooky.  Having said that the current song I’ve been working on uses Icelandic poetic eddas as its source material.  Sometimes I wonder what’s going on inside my own mind.  How can one not write a song that starts with the line, “Give rede now, Frigg, as to fare me listeth”?  That’s as good an opening as I’ve ever heard.  (From “The Lay of Vafthruthnir,” the Hollander translation of The Poetic Edda, in case you’re wondering.)

Meanwhile, something I played on a while back is out in the world and it’s worth seeking.  Jefferson Pitcher’s fine minimal ambient acoustic project, Now the Deer, is out on tapedrift and is excellent.  If you much enjoy Eno’s Music for Airports or the Mori/Frith/Hideki project Death Ambient I’d wager you’ll enjoy this one too.  Click on to Tape Drift to order a copy.  Each CD is packaged with a unique photo taken by Pitcher in N. Africa.  Bad ass.

Agent Deathmarch

Looking for an agent for the new book, which is like throwing your child off a cliff and hoping someone will catch it.  I ended with 24 drafts total–11,000 draft manuscript pages altogether.  That’s alot of manuscript drafts.  Final draft is a few pages under 500, which means it’s thick.  Not William Vollmann thick but thick nonetheless.

Working on a novella now about Napoleonic-era cartographers.  It’s weirder than the novel and fun when I have time to work on it.

Also thinking of revisiting my dissertation with a mind toward turning it (at last) into a proper book manuscript.  It’s probably time I did so, although knowing me it will end up too weird for any publisher.

For those who ask me from time to time when I’m playing next, I have no great desire to do so and don’t see that changing in the immediate future.  No one actually comes to the shows so it feels fruitless to spend the time and effort to present something to the public only to have 4 or 5 people show up.  It likely wouldn’t matter to me much if I really loved playing live but alas I don’t and never have.  I’d rather just play in my studio at home so that’s what I’ll do when it’s time to work on the music again.

January ends

Thanks to all of you who have been kind enough to keep track of my novel-writing progress over the past year.  It’s been a lengthy and rewarding process.  This is my fourth manuscript and the first one that I really felt like was beyond the “apprentice” phase.

In any case, I finished the beast earlier this month–515 manuscript pages in all–and it’s off to the agency.  Let’s hope they choose to represent it.  I really do think that it’s worth reading and in some ways its the most important art I’ve yet been able to make.  I likely say that every time I finish something new, but then again that’s why I keep making art so hell yes I’d better feel that way.

Much of the time since reading.  Some are asking when I’m making a new album.  That question I can’t yet answer.  I can tell you that Digitalis has one last album that I did with Tetuzi Akiyama and Tom Carter.  It’s titled “The Darkened Mirror” and will be out whenever Digitalis does it (and it will be on vinyl only).  I also have a cassette-only release with Digitalis under the band name “Generals & Such,” which is a project I did with friends Erik Werner (who directed the Washington Dreams of the Hippopotamus video) and Tim Rowan.  It’s called “Quixote” and is marvelous.  I’m the drummer.  Sounds like a noisy freakout of Explosions In the Sky.  Perhaps a bit more obtuse than that.

As for new songs, I have a bunch demoed from before the novel, but I don’t have much interest just now in delving into them.  I likely have enough for an album, actually, but those who know my work will already know that I don’t really release song collections.  Everything always has to have a central theme or idea or narrative.  I don’t run sprints; only the distance.  So either a theme will be revealed or I’ll keep silent until something comes along.

One thing to look for on the music front: Ptolemaic Terrascope asked me to contribute some material for a scrapbook project they’re working on and offered up 10 minutes of time on the accompanying CD.  This I filled up with a single track: “Cartographers.”  It’s a long rumination on mid-19th century explorers in the Western American mountain ranges.  Heavy but luminous at times.  I recorded it with help from Tim Metz, Scott Leftridge, and percussionist Bob Gemelin.  These are good people, all.  The finished track sounds (I hope) like Talk Talk’s best work: Spirit of Eden.  A luminous album indeed.

I’ll get some chunks of the book up here in the near future, I promise.  Meanwhile, thanks again for all the e-mails, twitter comments, texts, and facebook messages.  You guys are all champions.

House show!

House of David

If you’re in Sacramento and/or the Bay Area we hope you’ll join us
for a special house concert at David’s in Davis, CA featuring
Christian Kiefer, Stephen Yerkey, and Richard March. We’ll be trading
songs, telling stories, and doing alot of harmonizing. Friendly for
the kids but music for the grown-ups.

The model at David’s is kid-friendly so bring them. We start early.
Food (great Indian food) at 6pm (for FREE!), we start playing at 7pm
and are done at 9pm or so. Don’t have kids and want to stay late and
get hammered? Feel free. David is just that friendly. Last time a
contingency of fine drunkards camped in the backyard for the evening.

But that was all after the kids had gone home. Speaking of which:
Babysitters will be around to take your kids to the park and entertain
them. How’s that?

Here’s the address:

718 Hacienda Ave, Davis 95616

If you’re coming, please RVSP to so we can
keep some kind of head count happening.


By way of keeping you informed of other goings on, the band just
returned from Chicago where we played our Presidents songs at the
Hideout and at the Taste of Chicago in Grant Park with help from Tim
Rutili (Califone), Tim Kinsella (Joan of Arc), The Gunshy, The Bitter
Tears, Jon Langford (Mekons, Waco Brothers), and so many others I
can’t even remember.

More shows like this in the works but likely not until next year.
Keep your ear to the rail.

Coming Up

Vinyl release by the Tetuzi Akiyama / Tom Carter / Christian Kiefer
trio is on the way, also from Digitalis. It’s called THE DARKENED
MIRROR and features some guest work by percussionist Chip Conrad and
bassist Scott Leftridge.

Other stuff in the works too, which I’ll let you all know about as
it comes up, including a double batch of new songs, some of a more
rockist vein than I’ve done in the past.

Presidents to Chicago

We’ll be bringing the Songs for Presidents show to Chicago for July 3 (the Hideout) and 4 (Grant Park for Taste of Chicago) with a horde of special guests.  E-mail for more information.


Live at Davis High

May 15, 2009, 7:00pm-8:30pm
Davis Senior High School Library
315 W. 14th Street, Davis, CA

Live “Songs for Presidents” show with Davis High guests Doodle, Shiva Shahmir, and The Cast Shadows helping us out.  Educational outreach!  Woo!

E-mail to rvsp so we can make sure we have it covered!

My first serious attempt at doing my music live came with a trio format we called Men with Guns.  Me on guitar and banjo; Chip Conrad on drums; Scott Lefridge on bass.  It was a good format–loud, weird, clanky, junky, too loose.  That’s us below, playing at a dive bar called Kimo’s in San Francisco. 
We’ll be bringing that trio format back to Sacramento this Friday (May 1) at Luna’s (1414 16th Street).  Stephen Yerkey and James Finch, Jr. are opening.  Should be a good, loud, weird, clanky, junky, too loose night, particularly since we’ve made a concious decision not to rehearse ahead of time.  Keepin’ it real since 1849.  That’s us.
Kimos, San Francisco, way back when...

Kimos, San Francisco, way back when...

N. Cal shows

Lots of local (to us) shows up and coming…

April 15, 7:00AM
Rotary Club, Rocklin, CA
Lecture on Presidents project



April 18, 7:00PM
House Show, Davis, CA
E-mail for location and information



April 22, 12:00PM
Sierra College, Rocklin, CA
Live daytime, outside show for whoever wanders by




April 25, 3:30pm
House show, Sacramento, CA
Benefits the American Cancer Society
E-mail for location and information




April 25, sometime in the evening…
House show, Marysville, CA
E-mail for location and information



May 1, 9:00PM
Luna’s Cafe, Sacramento, CA


June 6, 9:00PM
Luigi’s Fun Garden, Sacramento, CA


We three Presidential songwriters, along with about 10 other musicians, played a gig a few weeks ago in Sacramento–a kind of local celebration of the release of Of Great and Mortal Men.  I took some of the proceeds of that gig and joined the National Organization for Women (NOW if you dig acronyms).

There are numerous reasons to do this–it’s an important organization for forwarding the rights of over half of the people on this planet: geniuses, scientists, writers, mothers, poets, wives, doctors, etc.  But more immediate for me is the knowledge that Jefferson, Matthew and I collected over 50 musicians together to put together Of Great and Mortal Men and I think there are only four women on the entire project.  That seems embarrassing to me.  (Not to mention that to my immediately knowledge there are no people of color whatsoever.)  One could make the argument, I suppose, that we wrote a bunch of songs about white men and hence the “casting” makes sense, but I still don’t like it, and I’d guess my co-writers have similar feelings on the issue.

In any case, there’s much a man can to do help, and this is just one way.  Apologies to women everywhere for our phallocentric representation of a phallocentric history.

If you’re interested in NOW, just click here.

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