The Prophet Ka-Spel
Interview by Brian Albert
Ed: I was born in East London (Dagenham)... Itīs a place to avoid. Enormous car factory and nothing else except rows of projects. Not such a creative environment (though actually it is, now I look back). Actual childhood reminiscences I tend to avoid in interviews since an informal conversation with a journalist revealed many things I didnīt want to see in print.
DR: Growing up, did you think you would become a musician? Did you ever have any musical training?
Ed: Always dreamed of making music. But it was some time before I could afford an instrument. No formal musical training. I tried to form a band once before LPDs (Vizzyen Laedyr.) We made a tape, and that was it (sounds like very very early LPDs).
DR: You have mentioned before that you were inspired to start making music one night when you were at Stonehenge, how exactly did that come about?
Ed: It was a spontaneous pilgrimage by myself, April and Phil (the other two original Dots) to the annual midsummer festival. A wonderful occasion.we watched an unknown band with a full light show in a field in the middle of the night, and there was no other audience. It was the spark.
DR: What were you listening to at that period of your life?
Ed: Joy Division,Wire, Throbbing Gristle, This Heat.
DR: Has your musical taste changed much? What is in your CD player now? Do you listen to your own music regularly?
Ed: Always listening. Right now its old David Bowie and Eno CDs.
DR: What do you think of the music that is being produced today? Is there anything that sticks out in your mind as being exceptionally good?
Ed: I thinik thereīs a lot of good stuff. I love Radioheadīs last album, so much emotion... Thom Yorkeīs a great singer too.
DR: I find it hard to describe your music to people, there is no one category that it fits into, it is in a category of it's own. How would you describe your music to some one who has never heard it?
Ed: I never try.
DR: What is the overall philosophy behind your music? Is there a particular point you are trying to make?
Ed: Ultimately I believe people must think for themselves. Iīm no preacher and retain the right to change my mind at a millisecondīs notice.
DR: What is your favorite piece you've done?
Ed: Possibly, "You and Me and Rainbows." Very personal.
DR: What was the concept behind The Golden Age? There seems to be a central theme throughout the album.
Ed: One of my favourites of LPDs. Extremely emotional time especially with relationships... Somehow not so optimistic at that time, the music reflects this.
DR: I've always been curious as to why you chose to use the sample from "The Brady Bunch" at the beginning of "Hellsville." What is that song about?
Ed: Didnīt know it was "Brady Bunch." Just left tape recorder on while TV was babbling... I liked that snatch.
DR: What exactly is a "Crushed Velvet Apocalypse"? Where did that title come from?
Ed: The time we live. Right now. put some flowers in your hair (roses with sharp thorns, be Jesus. Bleed for me...)
DR: You have titled yourself "The Prophet" Ka-Spel, but do you think people have missed the humor taken that too literally? I have even talked to people who believed you were the re-incarnation of Merlin. How do you respond to that?
Ed: Maybe. There are at least 1000 Napoleons walking around too.
DR: Your spirituality comes through in your lyrics, but doesn't seem to have any kind of set religious dogma. What is your opinion on organized religion?
Ed: Probably its necessary so people donīt go around killing each other. Ah, but then they do...Chains. Why donīt people ever leave the room?
DR: The Pink Dots have an apocalyptic theme running through the music. Do you see the end of the world coming, or perhaps in the sense of a transformation or new beginning?
Ed: A transformation and its already happening.
DR: What do you think of the new millennium? What kind of things do you see 2000 bringing? Where do you see society headed?
Ed: Itīs a hard one. Ultimately Iīm optimistic as Iīm a great believer in pre-destination... and there would be no point in the world ending or the human race moving backwards or wiping itself out. I also do not believe that humans have the power or intelligence to destroy this planet. Greater forces are at work (always have been)...and I believe this world will appear enormously different in 10 years time to what it is now. As much of a difference as looking back 100 years.
DR: Do you believe that we are alone in the universe or that life exists on other planets?
Ed: Life does exist on other planets. Fact.
DR: What is your relationship with David Tibet? How did you first meet him?
Ed: Davidīs a dear friend. I met him through Steve Stapleton back in 82.
DR: Do you have a pre-written story that you tell at shows or do you just improvise?
Ed: Always better to improvise. Keeps the mind active.
DR: Do you have a favorite story that you've told?
Ed: Maybe that thing about the talking cigarette.
DR: Do you ever write stories or other pieces not intended to be set to music?
Ed: Here and there, eventually there will be a book.
DR: Have you ever done any work on movie soundtracks? Would it be something you'd be interested in doing?
Ed: Iīd love to, but nobody asked yet. Alas.
DR: I'm not aware of any videos you have done for any of your songs, be it LPD, Tear Garden, your solo work etc. Have you made any? Are there any plans to make any?
Ed: "Siren" from 9 Lives had a video clip, but it was awful. Unbroadcastable too for various reasons.
DR: Based on the amount of material you release you must all but live in your recording studio. What do you do other than tour and record?
Ed: Read, listen to music. Time with my family.
DR: I have heard that you are a long time vegetarian. What made you decide not to be carnivorous?
Ed: Quite simply, I like animals too much to eat them.