News Column

Free Dominguez is committed to 'Sea' change

November 14, 2013

YellowBrix

Nov. 14--Free Dominguez, whose voice floated above the industrial-rock drone of kidneythieves in the 1990s and 2000s, says music no longer pays all the bills. So she's had to get creative.

"It makes me some extra money," the Houston native says. "And it fulfills me spiritually. But if I get a vision of a project, I have to do it. It's going to haunt me if I don't."

She's been a private chef since 2007, whipping up fabulous foodie affairs for dinner parties and charity events. She's launching adoptakitchen.com in December as a tool for low-income families to get necessary household items and to learn about natural, healthy food alternatives.

"My mother used to put a stool up against the stove, and I'd make pancakes or try and mix things in the fridge. She said, 'Do what you want. Just eat your mistakes.' Think about it. That's a metaphor for life," Dominguez says.

She's also spreading her creativity across several musical projects, including a grass-roots push behind her third solo record, "Volcano & the Sea." She funded it through Kickstarter, raising $50,000 with the crowd-sourcing platform. (She already has enough material for a follow-up.) It was produced by Grammy winner J.J. Blair, whose credits include work with Johnny and June Carter Cash, Rod Stewart and the Who.

"I've been wanting to make a record like this for a decade and just never had a way to do it," Dominguez says. "I had no idea that it would get funded so quickly. I reached my goal in seven days. It's been a really incredible creative experience. If it weren't for the fans, it wouldn't have happened -- ever. I'm really proud of this piece of art."

"Volcano & the Sea" is lush and rich, a full-bodied representation of Dominguez as a solo musician. She cites Peter Gabriel, David Bowie and Kate Bush as influences, and it's apparent from song to song. Dominguez's voice seems to haunt, rather than lead, every work, floating from verse to chorus and back again.

"I'm a firm believer in the magic of intention and what you put out there in the world," she says. "But there are so many other things that can happen if you just don't try to think too much about how the solution is going to happen."

Dominguez lived with her maternal grandparents in West University as a teenager before making the leap to Los Angeles in the mid-'90s, after two years of college. Her Cuban relatives still live here; her cousin Jordi Baizan plays with local rock band QandA and opens Saturday's show.

Though she hasn't played in Houston since 2003 at what is now Bayou Music Center, Dominguez is considering settling in her hometown. But she needed to leave to kick things into high gear.

"I wanted a new start. I knew I wanted to be creative. Like a lot of young people, I wanted to explore and find my place in the world," she says. "I literally packed up my car and drove out and stayed with a friend and just thought I'd figure it out.

"I had no idea how. I had no direction. I naively thought, 'LA is a place where people make music, and I'll just meet musicians.' Shortly thereafter, I met Bruce."

Bruce Somers and Dominguez form the core of kidneythieves, which amassed a devoted following that sticks with the duo thanks to placement in film ("Queen of the Damned"), TV and video games. Debut album "Trickster" was issued in 1998, and they have plans for a new project.

"Bruce pushed me to be outward (about my music). I went home and said, 'You know you've wanted to do this. Don't be afraid. Just try it.' We did, and it just went fast," she says. "I had no idea that it would hang on like that. It sometimes doesn't compute. I have a special place for that project. We're not done. We just want to make music and put it out for the people that want to hear it."

Dominguez has several other things in various states of completion, including a promising dance-music project that's "electro with a touch of Lana Del Rey" featuring Doctor Fink (Prince and the Revolution) and a hip-hop collaboration with Kool G Rap, Big Daddy Kane and KRS One.

She seems to have it all under control.

"I learned a very valuable lesson to only deal with what's in front of me. Planning is not difficult when you look at it that way," she says. "Yeah, I have to fly six people to Texas on Friday. We have to do a (great) show and get all our gear in order and rehearse and all these things. I can worry about it, or I can make a list. Everyone's a grown-up.

"I don't let (other things) occupy my space when I'm doing something else. And I'm very clear about making time for the love in my life and the friendships in my life. You fill your day, and you don't stress about it. I think people get stressed out the most when they focus on the outcome or they expect how it's going to be. If something comes my way and I don't have time for it, then I just say no."

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(c)2013 the Houston Chronicle

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