MAGREB talked with King Dude, “luciferian country” artist from the USA, whose latest to date album Songs Of Flesh & Blood — In The Key Of Light really impressed us.
You know, in our country you’re promoted as a “Johnny Cash raised from hell”. How did you come to this format of “infernal country”, after being previously involved in metal? Would you like to experiment in the future with the new genres (“western dark ambient” or something) or will you continue to work as it goes now? Do you have probably some ideas about new interesting collaborations?
TJ: I don’t really consider myself anything but myself, King Dude and I of course love Johnny Cash but I never consciously set out to be like him. Stylistically I wanted to be more like Roy Orbison. You know, like a weird singing vampire. As for experimenting in different genres I don’t consciously set out to do that either, I usually let the song lead me to what it needs to sound like. It’s really quite easy since I feel as though most of these songs are created through a form of automatic writing. I have collaborated on a song most recently with Julee Cruise, it’s really nice. I wrote the song and she sings it. That will be out this year on my label Not Just Religious Music. Also Drab Majesty produced the music for a track on my next album. I wrote the lyrics and sing it. The single version for that will come out on Dais this year.
Just like classic country songs, your songs are telling stories – about love, death, God and Devil. Could you say that there is some conceptual story lying behind each album (because they are obviously feeling different from each other)? What does the cover of “Songs Of Flesh And Blood” mean?
TJ: Yeah there definitely is a concept to each record as I go into it. I try and write the songs so that they weave one big story together so that to really understand it, you have to listen to it beginning to end. I usually pick a theme for each record and then maybe two or three sub-themes to work with. Furthermore I have been weaving all the records together in one big piece since “Tonight’s Special Death”. There is an massive story arc being told from that record all the way up to my most recent one. The cover of “Songs of Flesh & Blood – In the Key of Light” was really just a necessary step in the evolution of King Dude. I had to put my face on it, I knew that much. It’s a really vulnerable album so I had to show people that I wasn’t afraid to hide myself. That photo is in my rehearsal space in Seattle and was really inspired by Ozzy Osbourne’s album, “Blizzard of Oz”.
In our country you became (and probably still is) mostly known for the song “Lucifer Is The Light Of The World”. Most of your lyrics feel like allusions to something greater and hidden, but in this song you’re speaking straight. How did it come to you, and what Lucifer is for you – is it the manifestation of your own true belief, or just the artist’s play?
TJ: I am a religious person. I consider myself to be a Luciferian, it’s no joke to me. I go to sleep with this feeling and wake up with it as well. Although Lucifer is nothing I deify or pray to. I believe we all have the potential to be great “Light Bearers” on earth, here and now, to become Lucifer ourselves. Like Christ or Buddha except here and now to change the world and make it a better place. The direct link to the God of our souls, not the God of our mind and flesh.
What do you believe in? Do you practice Magick?
TJ: Not in the traditional sense, no. I think of my music as magical but really it’s a gift from above that I can channel into creation. That’s the closest I’d say that I get to “Magick”.
What is the most vivid remembrance of your childhood?
TJ: I’m not sure I could say, that’s a very big question.
What inspired you the most (in your life) and what is inspiring you know? If there are some books, albums or movies that really impressed you recently, could you name them?
TJ: I’m really inspired by the Portishead cover of Abba’s S.O.S. It’s fucking great. Also the soundtrack to “The Unknown Known” by Danny Elfman is very inspiring. Johan Johansson’ssoundtrack to “Sicario” is perfection. It is so dark and tense, it really fits the film so perfectly. I like true crime films or TV shows, that’s usually what I watch. Documentaries on brutal crimes, you know, the usual stuff.
“Not Just Religious Music” just released the debut album of Destroying Angel, what was so special about this project that you supervised it?
TJ: Well I love Destroying Angel, we played a show with them once a few years back in NY and I just fell in love with their sound. Tony Cesa in my opinion is a masterful songwriter and in his band he is crafting some of the most exciting music to come from America in a long time.
“Fear is all you know” you sang some years ago. What is, by your opinion, the main problem today of young people, your audience? Could you give them an advice, like, what qualities and character’s traits must individual have in order to survive, to live real life, to create and to realize himself?
TJ: Well it is crucial to examine one’s own fears and desires, to meditate on them and to learn to live beyond them. They are merely a part of life’s grand illusion.
What is the most inspiring thing or dream that happened to you recently?
TJ: Last night I dreamt I was in an old house, murdering the people that lived there with a shotgun.