steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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andrew w.k. and andrew k.m. have a conversation


AKM: So, uh, on the subject of collaborations... fairly recently, you've been working with some pretty interesting people.

AWK: I've been very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with some of the greatest people that exist, in my opinion.

AKM: Yeah. Among them, you worked with Lee "Scratch" Perry. What was it like working with him? How did you two click?

AWK: I met him in Austin, Texas. He was someone I'd heard a lot about. I'd heard some of his music over the years, had many friends who were completely obsessed with him. I'd always been overwhelmed by the amount of material that there was, and I was right to be overwhelmed, because he is overwhelming, in the best way. Just blew my mind when I saw I was going to be interviewing him for Direct TV. I mean, I got a list of people I was interviewing, and it was a pretty incredible list. A lot of amazing people. Truly mindblowing. And I was truly excited about him. He was the most wild-card, like, I really didn't know what to expect from him. I just thought I could count on it being amazing. And it was more amazing than I could have expected.

And all I wanted was more of that feeling. As soon as that interview was done I wanted to talk to him again, so I set it up with his manager to try and interview him in New York. So I met him again in New York, and interviewed him again. I appreciated everything about him, and was really intrigued, like so many people have been, by his creative force. He's someone that's been able to devote his life - or has chosen to devote his live, he's been very heroic in devoting his life to following his artistic impulse and living it, letting it emerge fully and completely in every direction at once at all times.

So, just to see someone doing that their whole life, and continuing to do it at age 73, that's just about the best kind of energy anyone can be around. That's an influence I want to rub off on me. So, just getting to be in his presence, let alone getting to make music with him, was just an incredible, incredible life experience that I'll treasure forever.

AKM: Of the other people that you worked with on your recent recordings, is there someone in particular who we may not have heard of that you were just blown away having worked with?

AWK: That I was blown away by?

AKM: Yeah.

AWK: Well, Lee "Scratch" Perry, but really, everybody I've ever worked with. I don't mean everybody I've ever worked with... but I've had a lot of mentors throughout my whole life, and I bow down to these people and worship them. Lee "Scratch" Perry was a very intense one for a short time.

By a mentor, I mean someone who had something that I don't - who's either older than me, has experiences, has done things I haven't done. I mean, everybody can be a mentor, because everybody is unique and has experiences that no-one else has had. They have the feeling and the spirit that is only theirs, but they can share. We all deserve to share our perspectives, I guess.

But the people I've been working with on my record label, these are the people I'd most want to work with on music in the world. It's not like they just happened to be my friends and were making music. I sought them out. And because of their talent and their vision... I mean, I can contribute to it, but they don't really need me. I feel almost selfish, I just want to be around people. I mean, they think of ideas that I wouldn't think of. The ideas that they use for their projects... the feeling of that is really healthy, I think, to be around people who are very advanced in using their imagination. I just like it. I just want to see how they see the world and learn from them. Even if it's very different from me. The more different perspectives we get, the more clear our own view becomes.

AKM: Is there any one, I guess, dead person that you have really liked to work with?

AWK: Yeah, well, sure. Hell yes. I would liked to have met Bach. That'd be pretty amazing.

AKM: Bach, as in, Johann Sebastian?

AWK: Yeah... well, just any of the titans, these titanic musical forces. The founding fathers of melody. That would be exciting. Just to see what they think about music. Just to ask them about - anything - I mean, I haven't read hardly anything on Bach, but, just to be able to be in his presence. Again, there's something about being in a person's presence that's very powerful. In fact, it might be the most powerful experience we can have. That would be great.

But of course, you still feel him coming through in his music, but we don't know what that him is. I don't know. Maybe you can't ever know who somebody is. But it would be really cool just to look into his eyes. You can see in the paintings, though. There's really great paintings of him, where his presence comes through.

AKM: Yeah. The impression I get, at least, of Bach, is that he looks very composed - to an extent, but it looks like it's really sort of turbulent beneath the surface with him. Yet, he comes across as being very calm and still. But you can tell there's a lot going on, I find. That's the impression I get from looking at portraits of him.

AWK: Yeah. There's one great painting, I don't know who did it, but it seems to be the one I see most often. He has this slight smile -

AKM: Yeah, I think I'm thinking of the same one.

AWK: Yeah. There's this gleam in his eye! This incredible focus, but this incredible realization. It's great. It must have been how he operated. I mean, who knows how he conducted himself physically, what he was really like to be around. We're so lucky right now to have videos and movies where we can see what it looked like when people moved, how they inhabited their bodies. Because most of these old paintings were strangely organized, like they would put the body of the person into this kind of template almost, and then their head, their face, would hopefully give out some character. But other times it's like a mannequin in those old paintings. I'm a big fan of photos and videos. I don't think it's bad at all.

AKM: Yeah. Those old paintings kind of remind me of those photobooths, where you just sort of sit in and they artificially put in a background behind you, where it's totally focused on your own face and that's about it.

AWK: I know. It's weird.

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interview conducted by Andrew Kai-Yin MacKenzie
June 2009
published July 11, 2009



all content copyright 2009