expwy. to yr skull
Join Date: Mar 2007
Do you need that kind of pain to verify to yourself that you're putting your all into the music? Or is it more like if you were playing properly you wouldn't feel any pain whatsoever?
The latter is possibly true. But I don't like that kind of method. To be more precise, I'm using a religious image again–Christ was nailed to the cross and if his pain was his testimony, then I feel that my pain is unavoidable. To put it a better way, I'm offering up my body as a sacrifice. In terms of the relationship between me and the universe, in order to make myself feel better I have to offer myself up to the universe. I started thinking this way when I was about seventeen or eighteen. I believe in the therapeutic properties of music, this is something I've talked about before–how some music makes you feel good, how it physically relaxes your body. Then there's all this so-called "healing music" recently–that's just a joke. What I can't understand is how the people who make that kind of music believe they can heal people without they themselves experiencing any pain. Of course, from their point of view I'm just a fool–putting myself through agony in order that my listeners can experience happiness. They think it's a pointless waste of effort. I have thought the same thing myself, but still I wonder how someone who hasn't experienced pain can hope to heal other people.
Is this healing effect different from the idea that certain tones react with certain parts of the brain, all those Indian ideas of modes and so on?
This idea of there being certain sounds for morning or afternoon etc., as far as I understand it, is a Northern Indian idea. Southern Indian music doesn't seem to have quite the same concept of ragas for morning, or ragas for evening. When I first started listening to Indian music I thought that that concept applied to all of it. But recently I've been listening to Indian music again and revising my initial opinion of it. If you look at it in terms of the relationship between the self and the universe, then the time of day doesn't matter. I think that was how Indian music must have been originally, though I don't like that word, been. This idea of music for... for example, say it's afternoon in India, then it's a different time in other countries, so the music has no universality. The whole idea of morning or afternoon just acts as a limit. You can save people who are experiencing afternoon at that time, but not those who happen to be experiencing evening. That's why I always concentrate on the relationship between the self and the universe–I want to show proof that time is irrelevant. If you start thinking about time, about morning or afternoon, then you become limited by that. If you talk about time and position then things like age also come into play–but what I talk about is if someone's consciousness begins to long for something, then that person can exist in the one-on-everything relationship that I mentioned earlier. Just from talking like this, we can gradually move closer to a reply to your earlier question. There's no way I can explain the relationship between the individual and the universe just off the bat. But this is all stuff that I've talked about again and again. Ask me something different.
AC : Do you think that singing, using the voice, creates a more direct relationship with an audience than expressing yourself through the medium of some instrument?
KH : At the moment I don't feel any difference between them. There's a tendency to use the word "voice," to describe it as an instrument–I don't agree with this. I am most definitely a singer. When you use the word "voice" I just have an image of someone playing around with methods of voice production, whereas what I do is I sing. For me what I do are songs, though maybe some people might not agree. Maybe there is a slight difference between singing a song and playing an instrument, but because I use both to make music I look upon them as being the same.
AC : How important are the actual words to you when you sing?
KH : If lyrics come to me then I'll sing lyrics, if they don't then I'll sing something else. The best situation for me to sing lyrics is darkness. (laughs) So if you want me to sing, you can forget about having a video crew around. (laughs) For me the best song is one where I surprise myself, where I sing melodies and rhythms that I've never sung before. And if I can attach lyrics to that, then that's the best kind of song for me. But for some reason, if there is any light, I can't sing. This links back to another image that I always use–where does music come from? I personify that every time I play live.
AC : Are there any singers that you would identify as definite influences?
KH : There's so many. But that word "influence" . . . . I'm going to put this bluntly–it's not a word you should use towards people, they can be offended by it. Especially if you ask them who they've been influenced by. There are a lot of people whom I like, but I think that influence is really only limited to one part of what I am, there was some influence at one particular time upon one particular part of me. Maybe I learnt something from them, but this idea of influence means that you can never go beyond what that person did. And that's why I get pissed off when people ask me who I've been influenced by. I've never said that I was influenced by Blue Cheer. My sound is far wilder than theirs anyway. (laughs) Maybe I liked them back when I was in high school, that's only natural. Everyone was given birth to by their mother, they didn't just suddenly materialize. But I don't think I was influenced by them. In one sense, I still like things that I once liked. Everyone talks about growing out of a certain kind of music, don't they? They say that they used to like hard rock, but they've grown out of that now. I don't feel like that at all. I still love to listen to Blue Cheer. It makes me feel like dancing. Or if I listen to Charlie Christian I can still really get into it. Probably the stuff that I've stopped listening to the most is contemporary 20th century composition. Definitely. Too much of it just coming from the head. When I talk with people I try to make these ideas as easy as possible to understand. I use simple words. Like I always say, any conversation that a child can't understand is a lie. If you don't do that then you'll end up playing with vocabulary, playing off the words you know against the person you're listening to. If you do that then there's absolutely no way that the ideas of music as therapy, or a tool to become closer to people can exist.
AC : Moving on to something totally different. You present a very defined image, a definite style, don't you?
KH : Again this is something that I've said before–if I were to shave my head and wear white robes it would be too close to what I sing about. (laughs)
AC : Is there any sense that as a musician you feel you have a certain role in society, and you then wear certain clothes to differentiate yourself from other people?
KH : It's got nothing to do with feeling. I've been doing the same thing now for over twenty years–so this is the only way I can be.
AC : But still, there must have been some point when you made a decision to dress a certain way. You weren't born looking that way.
KH : Priests are the same, they're not born wearing robes.
AC : So what made you decide to adopt that particular style?
KH : Because I like it, obviously. I'm not being sarcastic or anything, but if I don't dress like this then I feel uncomfortable and can't relax. That's certainly true now. For example, if someone worked as a wage-slave at a company for forty years and then retired, the day after they retired they'd probably get up in the morning and put on a suit and tie. I'm probably close to that. Now, if I had some clothes that weren't black and I put them on by mistake and went out, I think that I'd run straight back home and change. I wouldn't be able to relax. Rather than deliberately choosing any particular style, like everything else I do it has to be this way. Do you understand? This is my reality. I've got to wear something–the police would arrest me if I went out naked. For me, it's not a question of wearing, it's a principle. I don't tell you to wear black or grow your hair long–they're my own principles. This is the way I want to be. Just like when I was small and I'd play by myself in the sand-pit when everyone else was playing with building bricks. Of course the way I look now is a pose, but I don't want to look any other way. If I hated people looking at me and kids pointing then I could cut my hair. I could do it anytime I wanted. But for the moment I want to look this way. Maybe I'll change tomorrow, who knows. I enjoy being this way. If I didn't like it then I'd change.