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Gothic Silhouettes & Statues: An Interview with Edward Ka-Spel of The Legendary Pink Dots

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Cherry Red Records released Silhouettes & Statues: A Gothic Revolution – 1978 – 1986 on June 30th, an ambitious and comprehensive 5-disc box set that covers an essential musical era that was a direct response to social, political, and economic dystopia of the United Kingdom in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Silhouettes & Statues provides a comprehensive view of the bands, large and small, that captured the spirit of gothic music. Edward Ka-Spel of the renowned band The Legendary Pink Dots took a bit of time to answer some questions about his place in the gothic music realm and what he’s currently up to (a recent album and tour with Amanda Palmer!).

Stereo Embers Magazine: Hello Edward!  It is a distinct honor for me to reach out to you and ask you all about your influential music and involvement with the Silhouette & Statues compilation album, which covers the revolutionary years of UK gothic music from 1978 to 1986.  To begin, what does the term ‘gothic’ mean to you?

Edward Ka-Spel: Having played the Wave Gothik Treffen Festival in Leipzig on a number of occasions, I’d say “Gothic” clearly refers to a lifestyle. I have seen 80-year-olds in full regalia, babies wearing black in their prams…I guess there must be parallels with the hippies of the ‘60s. It’s not necessarily austere, gloomy…There’s a deep love of poetry and beauty there.

SEM: During the time period that this compilation draws from, were you known as a gothic band?  If so, what did that mean to you at the time?

Edward: Legendary Pink Dots always existed in the margins, but back then we were considered to be one of the “Wild Planet” community of bands. Enormous diversity musically, but we felt (and still feel) a great affinity with the likes of Nurse With Wound, Severed Heads, and Current 93.

SEM: In your opinion, what is the overarching importance of the gothic music genre?

Edward: Is it really a musical genre? While there is a generic sound present among quite a number of bands, just where do you fit in the likes of say, Dead Can Dance, Nick Cave or, indeed, The Legendary Pink Dots…?

SEM: How has gothic music/culture impacted your life?  How has the passage of time, with its accumulation of experiences, shaped your outlook?

Edward: I enjoy contact with many of the good souls dressed in their finest black. They have treated me well, and I’m thankful for that.

SEM: What were some of the main themes that you addressed on your records?

Edward: We tend to deal with the porous border that divides reality and extremely lucid dreams. As a narcoleptic, I tend to spend too much time searching for my passport in that zone.

SEM: Why did you choose to include “Love Puppets” on this compilation?

Edward: It simply fits…

SEM: Please recount a (crazy, good, bad) highlight from your music career.

Edward: Ha! That would be telling…Best wait for the ridiculous biography…

SEM: What bands/artists, goth or not, are you into at the moment?

Edward: Been a bit nostalgic recently, as I’m on tour with Amanda Palmer right now (We made a record together.), so there has been a lot of talk between us about the music that really counted. Even so, for me, Radiohead really bowled me over with their latest record last year. There was also a stunning release by William D. Drake, formerly of the wonderful Cardiacs…Jenny Hval impresses me greatly. Supersilent, too…

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