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Dawn Watley of Black Kids

Listen to the Gospel

After rising from relative obscurity in Jacksonville, FL, to become the international buzz band of the moment, Black Kids return to San Francisco for a headlining gig at Great American Music Hall on October 13th. Fronted by lead vocalist Reggie Youngblood (his sister Ali is also in the group), Black Kids released their debut LP Partie Traumatic on Columbia Records in July. Dawn Watley (keyboards/backup vocals) spoke with SF Station during a phone interview from a tour stop in Atlanta.

SF Station (SFS): Do you feel your band has a polarizing affect on people?

Dawn Watley (DW): I think so, but we have fun, danceable music. Who doesnít like to go out and have a good time and party sometimes? I think maybe that is what attracts people to us. We also have that underlying sexual angst and tension in the songs. Itís a little like dark comedy -- the music sounds happy, but the lyrics are a little down.

SFS: Thatís a little surprising for a band with several members who met at church.

DW: I came from a different church and background, but I grew up in church as well. My dad is a Pentecostal minister, believe it or not.

SFS: Does that mean you keep it pretty tame when you are on the road?

DW: We probably stay in more and sleep or read books. I knit now.

SFS: Does your father approve of you being in the band?

DW: Heís actually really proud of me. He has the album and he knows Iíve made my choices. Heís happy for me and he even came out to one of our shows and supported us.

SFS: You are best friends with Ali Youngblood. How did you meet?

DW: She used to work with some of my friends and they thought we needed to meet because we are both crazy and strange and creative. We just clicked and started doing arts-and-crafts puppet shows together and writing some songs. We made a puppet booth and painted it for a festival.

SFS: Will we see a Black Kids puppet show in the future?

DW: I donít know, maybe if we get the time. I would love to do one again.

SFS: Has your relationship with Ali changed since you have been in the band?

DW: I like to say that we are common-law married and we canít get a divorce or separate. Our friendship has gotten stronger because we kind of cling together in this band because the boys have their friendships. My friendship with Ali hasnít changed at all, except it has gotten better and stronger. I couldnít imagine being in this band without her.

SFS: What got you interested in playing music?

DW: Iíve been playing piano since I was four. Back in the day, I was really into gospel and I liked a lot of oldies. In middle school I started listening to indie rock, like Smashing Pumpkins.

SFS: What got you into gospel?

DW: My dad. He even had Elvis Presleyís gospel record.

SFS: Does that transfer into what you are doing now?

DW: If it werenít for gospel music and the way I played when I was younger, I probably wouldnít have the ear to be able to play the chords and melody and be able to sing at the same time. In church, that is just what you do but I think it came in handy with the band.

Black Kids perform at Great American Music Hall on October 13th. Tickets are $20. Doors open at 7pm and the show starts at 8pm.