Grammy Award-winning guitarist and Brooklyn resident Kirk Douglas, also known as “Captain Kirk,” has dropped a new single, “We Can Be One,” the first release from his upcoming album, “New Unknown.”
The lead single is significant, says Douglas, because it is a mantra for his life’s journey– from playing as a solo artist for Hundred Watt Heart; to touring the globe as the lead guitarist for the legendary hip hop band, The Roots; to collaborating with Gibson on his very own guitar line.
So, how did Douglas go from asking his parents for a guitar at age ten to winning Grammy awards? The journey starts in the same place he filmed parts of his “We Can Be One” video and where all his musical dreams came to life – his childhood bedroom.
“I was always passionate about music,” Douglas said. “It’s my natural way of having fun, processing things and creating.” He recalls playing the organ at age six and turning blue Danish cookie tin pans into drum sets, echoing melodic sounds of a household Douglas describes as an eclectic mix of “funk and reggae on Saturdays and church hymns on Sundays.”
“I knew from when I was very young, I would make a living playing music,” he said, “but I heard a lot about how that was impossible or not to bet on it happening.” He credits moving to Long Island during his adolescent years and the popularity of MTV as major influences in the evolution of his musical taste and quest for stardom.
He later moved to Manhattan, which further fueled his talents, as he taught preschool by day and played with several different bands at night. He shares, “It was a fertile time in learning different styles, a bohemian environment of rappers, and poets, artists, it was great training.”
Although he didn’t know it at the time, that training prepared him for almost twenty years of touring with The Roots and also how to take a creative shift during a global pandemic.
“I always wanted to record myself and not rely on an engineer and a studio to do so.” He adds, “Once the pandemic happened, I had time. I had to develop an aptitude for work and familiarize [myself] with the recording process from home.”
Douglas saw his ability to work increase tenfold.
The song and video for “We Can Be One” play on the multi-dimensional layers of his own life. “The song is my experience, the lyrics were created when George Floyd’s death was very fresh and the election was going on.”
“I was back and forth between Brooklyn where Black Lives Matter signs were plenty, and where my mom lives where there are so many Blue Lives Matter, signs” he adds, “ I tried to get the essence of being in-between spaces.
“I also wanted to capture aspects of my life, this musical dream in this one video,” he adds, “it starts from the bedroom and what dreams could be, and then how dreams are realized.”
“First was the music. Then I wrote words to process what was going on around me.” He adds, “WIth each new song, I discovered there was enough material to make up an album– an album that’s reminiscent of what I grew up around and what inspires me.”
“New Unknown” isn’t Douglas’s first solo body of work. However, the experience felt like a first for the musician, who describes it as a “creative process that I thought I would never see again, like how it was in my twenties but with more wisdom.
“To do this again on my own terms was so much fun and a great way to pass the time and go within.”
The artist is back on his own terms, creating music and touring with The Roots, who’s also the house band for NBC’s The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon. He recently returned to the AFROPUNK BROOKLYN stage with his fellow bandmates, a treat for the guitarist who thrives on the energy of the city.
Douglas lists Prospect Park as his favorite place to go in his hometown. “To be in a place like Brooklyn and have a direct line to nature is invaluable.” He adds, “Yeah it’s noisy but you see a bouquet of people that exude representation and flavor and variety yet coexist – I really dig that!”
Pursuing solo projects can prove challenging and even risky for many artists. However, Douglas embraces the opportunity as a way to help fans truly connect with his artistry and grow into his “new unknown”.
“I want to do what I can, when I can, while I can.”