Meet Juno MacGuff’s Muse

An unlikely Hollywood hit spotlights the songs of an unlikely singer-songwriter.

The success of Juno, a modest independent film that earned multiple Academy Award nominations and over $200 million in worldwide box-office receipts, has brought many good things to Kimya Dawson, including recognition, renown and a share of royalties from the flick's companion CD, which topped the Billboard sales chart earlier this year. But one dream remains unrealized. Dawson attended Juno's premiere last December with the goal of finding, meeting and befriending actor Danny DeVito, yet she still hasn't gotten the chance to bask in his presence. Hope springs eternal, though.

"I'm so close," she says, confiding that she's close to one of DeVito's co-stars on FX's It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. "She contacted me and told me she was going to try to arrange something the last time I was in California, but he ended up going out of town. So the next time I'm in L.A., I'm supposed to drop her a line, see what we can finagle."

Kimya Dawson channels Juno MacGuff.
Rhett Nelson
Kimya Dawson channels Juno MacGuff.

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With Angelo Spencer and L'Orchidée d'Hawaï, 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 22, Bluebird Theater, 3317 East Colfax Avenue, $12, 303-830-8497.

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Given the surreality of her Juno experience, anything is possible. The Olympia, Washington-based singer-songwriter owes her participation in the film to its star, Ellen Page; the actress touted Dawson's music to director Jason Reitman, who eventually built the soundtrack around solo material and ditties cut with two groups, the Moldy Peaches and Antsy Pants.

Since then, she's watched with fascination as organizations have attempted to turn the movie, about a pregnant teen who gives up her baby for adoption, into a political football — including one outfit that invited her to perform at a pro-life event.

"I wrote back a really long e-mail," says Dawson, an avowed choice advocate. "I was like, 'Are you fucking kidding me? Have you heard my music?'" She thinks finger-waggers who argue that Juno promotes unprotected teen sex are equally misguided — although she concedes that Diablo Cody's Oscar-winning screenplay leaves open the prospect of future repercussions. "It's not that far in advance where you would find out if she actually caught an STD," she points out. "But I don't know...I feel like Paulie Bleeker" — the Michael Cera character who knocks up Juno — "probably didn't have herpes."

In recent months, a few major-label representatives have knocked on Dawson's door, but "I looked through the peephole and didn't answer," she says, laughing. Instead, she's sticking with K Records, an Olympia independent, for the September release of Alphabutt, an album she made for children like her daughter, 21-month-old Panda Delilah — meaning, she confirms, that it was recorded "without saying 'fuck' as much." Until then, the DeVito watch continues.

"He and I have the same birthday, too," she says, "so I just know we're going to be best friends."

Visit http://blogs.westword.com/backbeat/ for more of our interview with Kimya Dawson.

 
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