Free Dominguez Talks ‘Volcano + the Sea,’ Kickstarter and Kidneythieves. – Interview

Fans of Kidneythieves are in luck. Free Dominguez is set to drop a solo album with the help of some very generous fans via Kickstarter. There is still time to donate if you’d like and the rewards are plenty. (You can find the link at the end of this interview.) Free recently stopped by to talk about Kidneythieves, her solo effort and the popular pledge platform.

Q – Thank you, Free, for chatting.

A - Thank you.

Q – You’re mostly known for fronting the band, Kidneythieves. However, you are venturing, once again, into the solo world with an album called, “Volcano + the Sea.” What can fans expect from this solo album that may not be prevalent on Kidneythieves’ records or past solo albums?

A - There are so many influences that naturally come from me, and over the years, I have always said “I want to make a record like this”—Meaning, my own songs, material that sounded impeccable, had fluid full musicianship. I’ve never used more than one type of microphone on any Kidneythieves record. I’ve always wanted to try an array of mics, pre-amps, amps, etc. for a vision I’ve had in my head for an album. I want the voice to be warm, yet still have that raw quality, where you can hear every crack or scream in detail at the same time…What will be, for my solo record, I will have a studio to go to and a producer that is focused on my material. I write so much, it is clear that if I put it on a KT record, one would say, “That doesn’t sound like a KT song.”  

Everything solo I’ve done before has been piecemeal and mostly recorded in my bedroom or sometimes if a friend had some spare time in their home studio.  

Kidneythieves is a partnership. It’s always been for me this visual expression of a story of the central figure just trying to find their place in the world.  All the stories have linked together from album to album. It is electronic, slick, dramatic and that has its place, so – to not take away from it – that is the place for that. But as an artist, I have many sides to me!

Q – You opted to go through Kickstarter to subsidize “Volcano + the Sea.” Why?

A - It came down to this: You’ve heard it a million times the industry has changed. Even as Zoe Keating showed with her spreadsheets of millions of Internet plays—well, you can’t live off a couple thousand dollars a year, which is how people listen to music now. Licensing is not only more competitive but companies know this and pay a fraction of the cost than they used to, say, when I was on ‘Queen of the Damned.’ People are trained that music is “free,” generally we are to “take our crumbs and like it,” and for people like me—it does not pay all the bills.

I love my fans. I care deeply how they are connected and also when they share what they are doing in the world. Combine that with I have no extra money, albums cost money and I have no studio.

Then Kickstarter (genius!) makes it possible for people to connect with their fans, get their project done, and it already has been this beautiful experience. At first I was like “how do I just ask people for money?” Then I thought, well, if they are getting something in return, and getting MORE than they would if it were just an album put out, then this could work and build a deeper friendship between them, if you will.

I have had help and love from my friends and artists such as Sascha KMFDM, Shawn Crahan / Kyle Sherrod, Matt McJunkins, Jeff Friedl and my brothers Beat Ventriloquists – to start – people who knew my situation and wanted to help in this process showed up. I had no idea this would happen like this, I have had tears in my eyes reading some of the loving emails that have been sent to me – which in turn just makes me want to do better!!  My fans have become my label (or silent partners, ha ha). 

Q – Kidneythieves released an EP in 2011 called “The Invisible Plan” and the band (I read) is currently working on its fourth studio album. “Volcano + the Sea” is scheduled for release April 2013. First of all, what is the current status of new Kidneythieves material?

A - There are some demos going around but nothing completed except for one track. The writing process is what it is, but I’m hopeful to have something out in 2013.

(Photo credit: Kiino Villand)

Q – Secondly, will Kidneythieves be touring for both albums or will you be playing shows separately for your solo album?

A - We haven’t been able to afford to tour since ‘Zerospace.’ This is something that will have to be figured out, or we will keep doing our one-off shows. 

Q – You’ve collaborated with many artists. Do you consider yourself a solo artist first or a member of Kidneythieves? 

A - I created Kidneythieves with Bruce. That’s an artistic expression. I am very proud of things we have done and do, but I am neither that nor a solo artist. No labels. Just artist. 

Q – You’ve been around long enough to see changes in the music industry via genre popularity and formatting including CDs to iTunes. How do you market yourself and Kidneythieves differently than when you first arrived on the scene?

A - It’s funny—marketing sometimes seems so logical and then there is an X factor. Isn’t it just about visibility and finding that visibility to get to people who may want to support you? The biggest difference is that before there was money. That money, those labels, those record deals spent money for you, to get your name out there. Now, there is no money. And there are no record deals.

Thank goodness for the Internet—Kickstarter and things like this – because now at least you can have a direct connection to your fans; however, if you really want visibility on the Internet – you still have to pay. Facebook won’t let my fans see what I am doing unless I pay them about $90 a shot, my email membership costs about $700 a year, and there are social media marketers that can help you to the tune of a minimum of a couple grand a month—so it still costs money. However, it’s not the old adage “It takes a million dollars to get one song on the radio,” for independent artists. Save that for the Lady Gagas and the Biebers of the world.

Q – Which bands/artists inspire you in your own music? Why?

A - Do you have all day? You’d have to look at my Facebook “likes” to start but that doesn’t even scratch the surface. I have such a wide range of loves and inspirations from strong women in different genres, pure artists in all kinds of performance art, I can go watch a Refused, Jack White or Roots concert and be enveloped and inspired, and I can go watch a bluegrass street band and be inspired. If I can feel the core of it, in my guts, and connect, then I’m probably into it. I love to rock out with the best of them, lose my mind, groove out – you name it.

I do, however, distinctly remember my mother playing Stevie Nicks when I was 4-5 years old and me being swept away by her voice. She sounded like a witchy angel talking to my soul.

Q – Thank you again. I look forward to hearing the new album and possibly seeing you on the road. Is there anything you wanted to add?

A - Because of this renewed connection with Kickstarter, I have become more intent on putting out the best art and music I can. And for that, I am forever grateful to those who have supported and continue to support.

Please check out, support and share my Kickstarter page ( – if it gets to a certain amount after covering all costs I am setting that $ aside to figure out some tour dates. With Kickstarter, all it takes is just a simple pre-order of a digital download to make a difference!  

Also, watch out for the announcement of a Video Game soundtrack in the near future…and there are some very cool artistic collaborations coming up and 2013 is going to be full of music. Thank you.


Jason Tanamor is the Editor of Zoiks! Online. He is also the author of the novels, "Hello Lesbian!" and "Anonymous." Follow him on Twitter at @zoiks_online. Email Jason at
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