Eclectic: American composer and guitarist Kaki King will perform at the Green Point Sports Field next month. Picture: Simone Cecchetti
This may be the first time you hear of the guitarist and composer named Kaki King who hails from the US. If that is the case, I would suggest that the first of her work you look up is her provocative and beautiful stage production titled The neck is a bridge to the body she performed at Brooklyn BRIC Theatre in New York City in 2014.

Here, King collaborated with Glowing Pictures, a visual experience company, to produce a multimedia production that illuminates the guitar and the artist, creating a dreamlike visual escape that will transport you into another world.

With an eclectic mix of sounds and haunting melodies, King's guitar playing technique is surreal.

When you listen to her music, you will be struck by the acoustic and jazzy melodies and transfixed by how her fingers move over the fretboard.

King is in town for the Design Indaba Festival where she will collaborate with information designer Giorgia Lupi on aperformance combining data and the senses.

I meet her at the Taj Hotel where I find her petite frame curled up on a couch at the foyer, her guitar leaning on herlegs.

She looks too fragile for someone who produces such powerful sounds.

Many, like me, have tried to box or describe the sound that she plays without success.

“It's complicated,” she tells me.

Petite: A Kaki King portrait by Shervin Lainez.

“The sound is hard to describe. What I usually say to people when they see me with my guitar and who ask ‘what kind of guitar do you play? I tell them it's complicated...which it is. My guitar playing is very complicated;

“If they push the issue, I tell them I write my own music and I use different kind of techniques, and that I hold myself to a standard of excellence that is often found in people who take guitar playing very seriously,” King says.

With a 13-year career that includes six LP and two EPs, King's career is serious business that has secured her the work of creating music for numerous film and TV soundtracks, including August Rush and Sean Penn’s Into the Wild, which received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Original Score.

Hailed by Rolling Stone magazine as “a genre unto herself,” King has performed on every continent over the course of multiple world tours, and has presented her work in a variety of prestigious arts centres, including the Kennedy Center, MoMA, LACMA and The Met.

King started playing music at the age of four experimenting with the guitar, the piano and the violin.

“I am coming from a father who loved music more than anything and who filled my life with music of all kinds and some of it fantastic and some of it not so;” she says.

“To my father, music was like his everything. He didn't really push me to study the guitar or push me to study music in any was just part of our lives and part of my relationship with him...that was how it kind of started,”explains King.

“My earliest music memory was listening to Barbara Streisand... I was majorly in love with her. I don't know how or why, all I know is that I wanted to run away with her, she was like the circus and I was going to run away and join her and be part of her band or tour,” she says.

“I began playing baby tunes such as Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, really easy stuff that kids relate to. I wasn't amazing or bad or show early brilliance , a lot of middle class kids attended music school.

“My father was cool enough to let me play the guitar instead of the piano or the violin,” she says.

Her career highlights includes performing with music icons the Foo Fighters, Timbaland, and The Mountain Goats,

“The guitar has a connection to my mental and physical self that I can no longer escape from it. It is very much dictating my life as opposed to the other way around. A lot of people have told me 'You are a master of the instrument'.

“However, I am not the master of anything, the guitar is the master of me. It tells me what to do, it shows me the way.

"I have played it long enough and I have spent a huge part of my life to know that I will never master it... I am just doing its bidding,” King says.

“People have told me that they have done everything to my music, including giving birth and getting married to it.

"Some have gotten through divorces and break-ups, climbed mountains...I hear a lot of I am helping people escape or enhance something that is beautiful... for me that is what it's all about,”she adds.

* Kaki King will perform at the annual Parklife Music and Gourmet Street Food Festival at the Green Point Sports Fields in Cape Town on Monday, April 17.

The festival will be headlined by Australian rock group The Temper Trap and also sees Parklife become bigger with two stages hosting live acts throughout the day.

Joining The Temper Trap King, Jeremy Loops, Francois van Coke, Matthew Mole, Guy Buttery, Medicine Boy, and Opposite The Other – the first of many acts to be announced.

Parklife Music & Gourmet Street Food Festival is the perfect day out and a relaxed way to end your Easter Weekend.

* Early Bird tickets are on sale now at R295 and available from