Dalton Kane can't sit still. Or, better put, he can't stop writing. Performing under the pseudonym "Chinaski, the Fury," he has a colossal catalog of work squirreled away on his hard drive, featuring over 300 tracks that he insists he can't ever release. Even in his live performances he improvises half the show on the spot in an effort to connect with the chance audience member and moment. Oh, and he's written about 80,000 words of his first novel. For Kane, the phrase "singer-songwriter" takes on a whole new meaning.
As a stage presence, Kane exudes a certain standoffishness. In fact, he would be the first to admit that he isn't a performer by trade. As the sole body on stage during a recent Rubber Gloves set, he's only accompanied by his voice and oscillating guitar tone. Perfectionism is partially to blame for his meager output of recorded music, but Kane also has a short-lived interest in the songs he creates. When he finishes writing a song and plays it a few times, his creative craving is already reignited.
Three days later in a Denton Square coffee shop, Kane orders a cup of King Crimson tea and reaches into his pocket to reveal a sheet of folded scrap paper. Scribbled on it is a collection of ideas and words; half-cooked concepts. For both his creative writing and songwriting, Kane says he finds it crucial to consider each day its own snapshot belonging to a bigger picture.
As you may have already guessed, Kane studied English. He's a clear product of that hysterical madness, looking for an angry fix; and he possesses an insatiable desire to write that manifests in 100,000 different mediums.
His body of work includes huge tomes of poetry, notebooks of short stories and a handful of half-written novels. What he just finished, however, is a complete novel titled The Many Dead Miracles, the plot of which delves into the life experiences of a prostitute and her family. The book employs different perspectives from different-aged characters to drive the narrative, a technique that's also present in Kane's songwriting.
The project's name comes from Bukowski's repeat character Henry Chinaski, an asshole who gets crabs sometimes. But what Kane sought to convey through his project's name was a youthful version of Chinaski from Ham on Rye, where he imagines himself as a football player -- as "the fury."
"The character has such a vision for who he wanted to be, and as he grew up it just disappeared," he says. "But that idea always appealed to me, looking back at childhood experiences."
Lyrics stem from the perspective of this fictional character interspersed with experiences from Kane's own life. The resulting product is a morose reflection on existence that, more recently, evolved into ideas of hopefulness.
At his most recent show, Kane only had four planned songs out of an eight-song setlist. In between the pre-written material were several tracks completely improvised based on Kane's interpretation of the environment. He modifies tempo, pitch and energy to match the crowd as well as to create an experience that appeals to random listeners. At one point, he asked the crowd to pick a number between one and five to decide which key he would play in.
"Whenever that happens, I'll have people after the show come ask me what that song was, because it really hit them," he says. "But I won't know what it was either, it's just what happened from what I was feeling."
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Between improv-heavy shows and a dearth of fully recorded tracks, Kane realizes that his approach to the project is risky. He largely uses it as a means of abreaction, to transcribe his turbulent emotions in a therapeutic format. And to him, it's not a matter of fearing abrasiveness or forcing congeniality, it's just necessary to create a genuine moment for an unsuspecting audience.
"You might just feel like a fish out of water, flopping around," he says. "And if you're going to do that, you might as well hop on stage and flop around. Maybe that'll make everyone else feel like they're not so different."
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