Doby Watson makes his folk-based personal ruminations sound epic. Recalling the haunted sounds of Mark Kozelek, Jason Molina and Leonard Cohen, Watson has toured widely as a performer and has grown as an artist and musical collaborator. He recently released a brand-new song, "Natural Ice", and plans on more upcoming projects, which you can read more about in our interview below with the man himself, in addition to his generous selections of music recommendations.
Please introduce yourself. Where do you live and work? What does a typical day look like for you?
My name is Doby Watson. I live in a tiny room in a house with a bunch of dogs (that aren't mine) just north of midtown, but I'm barely there. Every day is different, but always busy. If I'm not working on music, I'm wishing I was. I try to spend as much time on the road as I can afford to.
You recently released some new music as part of a Double Shift Music compilation EP with Austin Swearengin and frequent collaborator and friend Margo May. Talk about this new music and other songs you’ve been working on since 2014’s Live- In Son.
That EP with Austin and Margo was a lot of fun. Both are longtime friends of mine. Margo and I were touring last summer and stopped in Minneapolis where Austin was living. We brought Austin (and his dog, pictured on the cover) with us to Milwaukee, where another old friend of mine, Cory Schulz, lives. Cory setup some equipment in his living room, and we spent a couple of afternoons playing together while he recorded it.
I just finished an EP and I've got a handful of collaborations in the works. I've got a lot written that I'm sitting on. If I had my way I'd be recording every day.
What artists do you look to these days for inspiration? What do you admire most about these artists?
That's tough to answer. I don't think about it like that. I just do my thing. I admire a ton of artists that sound nothing like me and a few that do. I'm sure I'm influenced by all of them in some way. People say I sound like Mark Kozelek, and I really like his music (not sure about him as a person), but I didn't know who he was until people started comparing me to him. I love the DIY spirit and general weirdness of some contemporary rappers, but I'm not about to emulate them. Guess I'm probably most directly influenced by close friends like Austin.
Can you point to one time in your life where you knew you wanted to be a songwriter? Who inspired you early on to write music?
I didn't necessarily aspire to be a songwriter, it just happened. When I was a kid I loved making noise and played guitar in hardcore bands. I got tired of relying on other people so I started messing around with shoddy home recordings. Through encouragement from friends I put some stuff online - next thing I knew I was touring all over the place doing DIY shows. The more I traveled the more people I met who encouraged me to push myself to become a better singer and songwriter. I've still got a ways to go, but this music thing is definitely my favorite thing.
What excites you most about the Kansas City music scene?
When I'm in KC I tend to keep to myself, so I don't have a great idea of what's going on. But whenever I play here I meet tons of supportive, decent folks. KC is easy living, for sure.
Doby's music recommendations:
Spirit Of Eden by Talk Talk
Excavation by The Haxan Cloak
The Missing Years by John Prine
Stases by Loscil
Axes & Aces by Songs: Ohia
Oh, Glory. Oh, Wilderness! by Holopaw
Heaven Or Las Vegas by Cocteau Twins
Superwolf by Bonnie Prince Billy and Matt Sweeney
Realms by Geotic
Exploded Drawing by Polvo
Distance / Skeletal / Union by Marta Mist
1979 by Deru
West Palm Beach / Gulf Shores 7" by Palace
Loop Finding Jazz Records by Jan Jenlinek
Finally LP by Mark Kozelek
High-Tech High-Life by 1991
Pineal Dreamer by Furthers