Edward Ka-Spel of Legendary Pink Dots answers reader-submitted questions
By Bob Gourley | Published on June 10, 2015
For the second in our series of reader-driven interviews, we invited site visitors to submit questions for Edward Ka-Spel of Legendary Pink Dots. Thank you to the following people for contributing questions: Georges, Chris Janssens, Peo, Addie Hondo Pray, James Doerflinger, Arsenic Strychnine, Gregg Russell, Orson Panetti, dogma, Frank, Teresa Ortiz, Geoff Doner, J TM, Brad C, Jacek Armatys, Kelly Graham, Scott Coan (note to contributors – some questions have been combined and edited for publication, but all personal comments for Edward were passed along to him.)
For many years, we’ve heard of a possible collaboration between you and David Tibet. Is it still on the pipeline?
Nothing in the pipeline but I rule nothing out. I like David and have a very high opinion of him as an artist so if the possibility arises I’d certainly go there…
Are there any plans to expand the band’s current line-up?
Not right now. We still enjoy the freedom afforded by such a line-up.
Will there be a future Tear Garden tour?
Probably…I know I say this every year, but the will is there on all sides..
Any plans to work with cEvin Key on a new Tear Garden album or some other project?
Already working on it.
Will there ever be a Mimir tour?
It’s been quite a few years since Mimir recorded together so I can’t really see this happening.
You’ve recorded more than forty albums with the Pink Dots and even more solo albums. Many bands are out of good ideas after only three albums, and after one or two albums more they are fed up with each other and they quit. What I find the most impressive about your production through the years is not that your are still able to make new songs, but that thirty years later your new songs and albums are still GOOD. While many other bands split and quit, you just seem to keep on going. My question is: How do you do that?
Thank you. There is no master plan…we simply do what we HAVE to do..
You are such a prolific artist, your discography is astonishing. What tips do you have for other musicians to keep such disciplined, consistent focus, basically for a lifetime like you? What is your best recipe for struggling with procrastination?
Just don’t [procrastinate] ….life is too short.
Do you have writer’s blocks from time to time, and if so, how do you cope with them?
Terrifying…they do happen occasionally. Normally I tinker with old pieces that were never finished….it often does work too.
What is the main place where Dots’ records come about? Is it a studio which is somewhere out of your home, or is it in your and Phil’s homes?
Both our homes…We have modest set-ups (mine is in the living room of our very tiny house)…but it makes for a special atmosphere to recordings.
On what parts of records (besides lyrics and vocals) do you usually work?
I’m a kind of “hands -on” guy. Not exactly a control freak (I appreciate and need interaction with others) but I want to be there from the beginning to the end of a piece.
What is the creative process generally like between the members of Legendary Pink Dots, and has it changed much over the years?
Lots of improvising in the last years…Takes me back to the first days of the Dots. We record everything and then develop the best bits. In fact we improvised way less in the 90s after “9 Lives”.Of course, there are personal pet songs too…
The last time you’ve been to Moscow was in 2012. Do you have any plans or wishes to visit this city with a gig in near future?
Love to. I love Russia, the people, the country, the special atmosphere…Have to return..
Do you have a favorite place to play live?
Maybe Czech republic…From Prague through to the tiniest villages people listen so well and know how to show their appreciation.
Do you ever find yourself overthinking and nitpicking aspects of your songwriting? I read an interview with Micheal Gira and he talked about the dangers of using modern sound editing tools to ruin his work, by worrying too much about the little things.
It’s a danger for sure. Sometimes, after fighting with a piece for days using those very sound tools Michael refers to, I can tear it up and make the spontaneous, “damn it all” version. Same tools, different settings.
What drum machine(s) were used on the early (80’s) recordings?
Drumatix 12 (?) Roland 505,707,808, Linn drum.There were more but the names evade me.
What are some of your favorite synthesizers?
Pretty much anything by Korg. Still very attached to my old Yamaha CS30, but here are soft synths that blow my mind- love Izotope Iris for example. There’s a great developer out there called Rhythmic Robot too who conjure up the grittiest, dirtiest sounding inventions I ever heard …love them all..
What has the experience of being in a band, expressing yourself lyrically, the whirlwind/slog of travel and meeting people and seeing so much done for your personality and emotional well-being?
I’ve actually always been painfully shy and the life forced me to face and meet people.I reckon it has been good for me, but that nervous core is still pretty much the same..
Also, I’ve heard it said that you have a very strong intellect (which doesn’t surprise me). Does this difference still make itself visible in odd ways in your life?
not for me to say…
Is there any chance we’ll ever get to hear those early recordings made under the Vizzyen Laedyr moniker?
There’s a chance. I recently made contact with an old school pal who was also part of it…He has the tape – but has to find it!
Do you trust people who don’t like cats?
Do you like Depeche Mode? If so, what is your favorite song?
Alena played me the odd song and some of it is very decent..but I don’t know their music well enough to chose a favourite song.
What has been the most impressive album you’ve listened to this year?
Heroin in Tahiti’s new album. They are from Italy which is the centre of the World as far as psychedelic music goes these days.
For someone just starting out making music, do you recommend anything in particular, such as software, a book, or a mindset?
Just do it. Do it for yourself, and if others like it then that’s great
How do you feel about the industry shift toward streaming services rather than albums?
Harder for us to live now, but sadly the way of the World. Personally I prefer something more tangible as streaming implies background music and I never could keep something so beautiful pushed to the back.
I am a composer ( heavily influenced by you and your music) and often listen to some of my own compositions from time to time and there are particular pieces that I come back to more often than others. Do you often listen to your own music? What material of yours do you find you listen to more often than others? A particular album perhaps?
Alena makes me listen to my own creations, which can be difficult for me. The emotional connection is somehow too intense- like your life crawling (not flashing) past your eyes.Left to my own devices, I choose the creations of others.
What advice could you give somebody trying to make a living in the music business?
Make the music first, then think about living from it.
Why not a SACD or BLU-RAY edition of classical albums, eventually in 7.1 (or 5.1) like Steve Wilson?
Oddly never considered it..I do love what Steven has done with all of those timeless albums though (as well as his own wonderful music).
Are there any chances to re-release first 3 albums by The Tear Garden on CD’s? I think they’re excellent but I think they need a reissue.
Best ask Nettwerk.They seem to be into the business of suffocating good music and are being quite effective.
Will “The Gethsemane Option” be released on vinyl?
Yes, but in a while…
With such lyric intensive songs, combined with your prolific output, do you remember all your writings or do you ‘dust-off’ and revisit the material you perform?
My memory is decent , but not THAT good.
For more info and the latest news, check out the official Legendary Pink Dots website at legendarypinkdots.org.