Domino Kirke is a woman of many talents. A classically trained singer, she fronted an eponymous band back in 2006 that toured with Lily Allen on Mark Ronson’s label, Allido. Then Domino met Morgan, a busker at the Union Street train station, and gave birth to their son, Cass, altering the trajectory of her life. Enamored of the birth process, Domino studied to become a doula and went on to found her own birth collective, Carriage House Doula. She is now well-known around Brooklyn and in high-demand enough in the birthing industry that she recently landed a book deal. Not one to stop there, she also just released a collection of songs that are at once hauntingly beautiful, sad and deeply personal. Here, I got to ask Domino a few questions about the intersections of her various passions and the common ground between them.
Katherine Krause: So you had a band called Domino in 2006, and then you stopped performing and became a full-time doula. A few years ago you were quoted as saying: “Nowadays, Morgan [Domino's ex-partner and father of her son] plays enough music for the both of us and I get to focus on babies.” What happened that made you change your mind and start singing again?
Domino Kirke: When my son turned three he started to engage with me in a whole new way. When Cass was a little tiny thing, I could imagine having any kind of persona. You become so selfless… but then he started saying things like, “Mummy, I like your dress” or “Mummy, it’s too late, you can’t go outside.” But the line that was a complete game changer for me was, “Mum, I like it when you sing. Sing that again!” So I did.
Katherine: Why did you decide to stop singing in a band and come out as a solo performer?
Domino: When I fronted a band I felt the need to “perform” in a way that I wasn’t comfortable with. I toured on and off again for three years and by the end of it I was so depleted. I joined my boyfriend’s bluegrass band after quitting my band, to remind myself of why I did this all in the first place. I had to figure out why it had stopped being fun. I was able to hang back and just play in a group again. Once I started work on The Guard (some songs were performed while I was eight months prego!) I knew that once I was ready, performing would inevitably be a whole new experience. I was older and wiser, I’d made a human from scratch, and, frankly, I just had a lot more to say.
Katherine: What are some of the inspirations you had when you were recording this album?
Domino: Motherhood. The South. Quick, old love. Writing lullabies for my son. Divorce. Grief. Losing my voice, finding it again, and why I lost it in the first place.
Katherine: Your dad is a famous musician. Does anyone else in your family sing or have musical talent?
Domino: My siblings are all amazing at what they do. Lola, my youngest sister, had a band in college this year and she just blew me away! She played drums and guitar while she sang so effortlessly. I was so proud!
Katherine: For your new album, The Guard, you worked with Jorge Elbrecht from the Violens who has also worked with Chairlift and Diego Garcia, among others. What was working with him like?
Domino: Jorge is a gifted musician, one I’ve respected for years. He was so reassuring during a very vulnerable time in my life. I hadn’t performed in years. I hardly had any time to write as a new mum. I was wiping away some of the dust, and gaining more and more confidence with each of our sessions. We worked out of his apartment, which was always very low key and natural. I’d just show up at his place and work on a song. He always knew how to give it to me straight. If he didn’t like the way I sang the line, he’d very quickly say (even before we were very close), “You can do it better,” and he was right.
Katherine: Did you write all of the songs? The lyrics in some of them are so deeply personal. How long did it take you to write the album?
Domino: I cover two songs on the EP, Joan As Policewoman’s Real Life and Philip Roebuck’s Out of Nowhere, but for the full length record (produced by Edward Sharpe’s Nico Aglietti, due out in March) there is only one cover. I wrote most of the lyrics and co-wrote the music with Jorge, and Producer Timo Ellis.
Katherine: How did you get hooked up with Timo Ellis?
Domino: Timo is an old friend and mentor. We’d always wanted to work on a project together since I was about 16. He played drums in my old band too.
Katherine: How did you get interested in becoming a doula?
Domino: I’ve always felt a very protective over pregnant women. I even remember as a five-year-old always wanting to hold the baby. I guess it really set in after the birth of my son.
Katherine: Do you ever sing to the mothers you work?
Domino: I have!
Katherine: Are you still studying to become a midwife?
Domino: Yes. I deferred a year to finish my record, and to write a book about doula work.
Katherine: Do you have any plans to play shows or tour?
Domino: Yes, next spring and summer!
Katherine: What’s up next for you?
Domino: Numerous trips to LA to finish recording, lots of writing (book and songs), births, and finding my band!
Photography by Skye Parrott, Styling by Pamela Love
Top image: Jumpsuit, Electric Feathers
All other images: Dress, Mara Hoffman