INTERVIEW: Edward Ka-Spel of the Legendary Pink Dots
Edward Ka-Spel is best known as the lead singer, keyboard and electronics player, songwriter and co-founder of the band The Legendary Pink Dots, in which he was initially known as D'Archangel, Prophet Q'Sepel and other pseudonyms. He has also released numerous solo albums (initially featuring other members of the Legendary Pink Dots, and including contributions from Steven Stapleton), and has worked in various side projects, including The Tear Garden (with cEvin Key of Skinny Puppy), and Mimir (with Phil Knight, Christoph Heemann, Jim O'Rourke and others).
We recently had the pleasure of chatting Edward about his new album, gear & recording, the scene in the 80's, the future of live music, the letter "P', and more. - Darkest Wave Magazine
You’ve recently released a new album entitled “Prints Of Darkness” which is fantastic, by the way. Tell us a little about the inspirations that birthed this collection of songs.
It’s been the strangest of years, and my antenna is always up, hoping to detect some small light in all that darkness . I guess the music keeps me sane ( just about) as it’s a scenario that is strangely inspirational. Nevertheless I wish I was writing the songs from memory rather than daily reality.
I’m fascinated with how artist’s, like yourself, go about writing and recording their music. How do you go about this process and do you record in a home studio or do you prefer traditional recording studios?
All home recorded. The tools are good these days and, without the spectre of a crippling studio bill hovering over my head, it means I can be as perfectionist as I want to be.
“Prints Of Darkness” is filled with amazing instrumentation. Particularly the synth work and electronic aspect. What instruments do you play and are you the sole musician performing on this release?
I’m a Synthesizer player. If a line or idea proves to be beyond my abilities, I’ll happily programme it - but only after 99 attempts at actually playing it.
What are some of your favorite instruments that you use in your music? Are there any instruments that you feel you just simply couldn’t live without?
I tend to mix and match a lot of virtual synthesisers, but I do also love to spice things up with devices on my “analogue table”. I don’t have much space, so I’m thrilled with weird and wonderful contraptions that take up as many square centimetres as a pot of coffee.
You have a massive catalog going all the way back to 1981. How did you initially begin playing music and what was the music scene like during that time?
Things were very homemade back at the start of 80s. The whole punk thing allowed many of us who had little money for instruments to “ follow the dream” - even if the dream was no more than making a cassette album. Of course, everything depended on snail mail , so it inevitably meant many visits to the post office.
I had the pleasure of seeing The Legendary Pink Dots live, several times, way back in the early 90’s. Do you feel that the live music landscape has changed since then?
For us, the live landscape ebbed and flowed. As the 90s went on, the audiences grew in the US and Eastern Europe but shrank in West Europe. The first decade of the 2000s were hard, crowds thinned out .. but around 2010, the people started to return. By the beginning of 2020, things were positively healthy again just about everywhere- but then Covid happened.
We’ve all spent a year quarantined and without live shows. How do you think COVID-19 will affect live music and the way shows are done moving forward?
When ( if?) live music returns, I think there will be an explosion of starved spectators. I’m just worried that they will not be allowed in.
Some shows are starting to happen in various places. Do you have any plans or any shows / tours in the works for later this year?
We tried. Nothing possible yet. I’m also living in the U.K. where Brexshit just happened... it just makes things so much harder.
You’ve played shows all over the world for decades, Is there a city you particularly love performing in?
Paris. Prague. Portland. Interesting... all the cities start with the letter ‘P’.
What are some projects you’re working on that we might get the chance to hear soon?
An album with Patrick who used to play violin with The Dots is nearing completion. The new Pink Dots, “ The Museum Of Human Happiness “ is at the mastering stage. Actually there’s hours in the can...
Listen to "Prints Of Darkness" and purchase on bandcamp below