2014-08-13 King Dude

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It´s not Occult Rock, it´s not Black Metal and it´s not even real Neo Folk. For a few years TJ Cowgill has been roaming as KING DUDE through a spiritual and musical parallel existence with meanwhile a small label behind him that offers other people of his kind to release their music. His new album "Fear" manifests an interesting philosophy about communication using the images "mirrors" and "telephones". So never call "Demon Number 9" - it might be a two dimensional trip into the unknown...Interview

Hi TJ! How are you?

I am doing very well, thank you.

What had been your intention to found KING DUDE a few years ago? What does this project give to you that your other bands BOOK OF BLACK EARTH or ORAKVL do not?

Well, it was founded more or less at a time in my life I wasn’t rehearsing as much with my band BOOK OF BLACK EARTH and you know what they say about idle hands, don’t you? So I kept myself busy by writing songs on an acoustic guitar and recording them myself without the intention of sharing them with anyone really. It wasn’t until some of my friends encouraged me to share them which I did and through that process it has become a much more serious musical project than I ever thought it would.

How did the idea come up to write music in the style of religious bible-sounds of the American north-west and combine it with dark and luciferian topics as you call it?

I don’t know, I’m not sure that I did! I think it just occurred in a natural way by being interested in both country music and Luciferianism.  Did I call it dark? I don’t think of it as dark by the way, I think of my music as very light, uplifting and positive in every respect. Sure sometimes it may sound dark, but I guess that’s what cheers me up.

It is always said that KING DUDE just consists of only you, but when you play live, you have to resort to other musicians on stage. Who are these people, in which other bands do they play, and do they have influence on the songwriting of KING DUDE?

Well as you may or may not know the very first tour I did in Europe was a solo tour and still often play shows on my own. It’s something I never wanted to give up and I definitely don’t ever feel like I need to resort to having other people on stage with me. I write and record almost all the music myself with the exception of "Fear", which had other musicians performing on it in the studio. But I still wrote all the music. The people that have played with me in the past were friends that had more or less volunteered to play with me and I don’t feel like I ever really did an intense search for other people to perform live with. It seemed to me as though they just showed up with instruments in hand wanting to contribute. After the last tour in the USA and Europe which lasted two consecutive months and was filled with some of the highest ups and downs I’ve ever had on the road, my band decided to hang up their hats on touring. It’s a decision I completely respect and understand… I can be a real handful sometimes! I am continuing on though of course, next month touring the USA with Earth and I am planning another tour in Europe in the spring of 2015. This time though in the USA I am only bringing a drummer along for accompaniment and when I go to Europe in the spring I will most likely do those shows on my own.

When listening to your new album "Fear" I notice that especially the influence of Johnny Cash has been reduced somewhat, and the songs collectively are not as depressing as on your last record "Burning Daylight". Has it been your intention to create "Fear" a little bit more accessible?

Yes, definitely. That’s why I decided to work in a studio with a producer, to get a more polished sound that I didn’t get on "Burning Daylight". I wanted that for two reasons – it was conducive to the concept behind "Fear", which is to have songs that appear as pop songs outwardly to effectively mask the sinister sub-text of the lyrics and secondly, I wanted to see if I could actually work with a producer I didn’t know in a recording environment that was more or less unfamiliar.

You say that "Fear" is hold together by the two topics "mirrors" and "telephones". How did you come up with this idea? By the way, who is the "Demon Caller Number 9"?

Well, mirrors and telephones while being completely ordinary objects found in everyone’s possession these days (in fact I’ve seen people use their camera phones as mirrors) are actually quite sinister objects to me. With the invention of long distance telecommunication came the ability to be everywhere and nowhere all at once. It’s terrifying to me when I think of how entirely dependent on this technology we have become, a fact that to me clearly demonstrates our fear based culture. In a world where we define the modern anti-socialiteas someone who simply lacks a "Facebook" profile what do we consider someone who doesn’t have a phone? Crazy? Unemployed? Incarcerated maybe or just plain stupid? When you look at the phone in your hand as the necessary extension of an ever growing and connected fabric woven between all people you realize that taking it away would create a terrible void, an all consuming vacuum where you cease to exist in the eyes of a modern and civilized world. Mirrors on the other hand are nearly as old as time but not unlike a telephone entirely. While mystics throughout history have used mirrors for scrying, to see into the future or to communicate with spirits, the average person uses a mirror in a much more mundane way yet still as a form of communication. But unlike the mystics of yore, the average person uses the mirror to communicate with themselves. The message transmitted is usually something like, “I am” or more precisely, “I am reflected, therefore I am real”. And much like a telephone what is reflected isn’t literally there, it’s merely a two dimensional surface that appears as though it is there. So when you talk on the phone with a loved one that lives hundreds of miles from you, you aren’t really talking to them are you? You’re communicating with a reflection of their voice, bounced around by invisible waves to outer space and back again. This is in a sense what happens when we look into a mirror, we see a reflection of ourselves that of course is not ourselves. Perhaps the "Demon Caller Number 9" I’m talking about is who calls when you look into the mirror too long so remember to be careful!

You have just started your own label called "Not Just Religious Music", so can you already name some bands that you have signed so far? And what kinds of styles will be represented there?

Well there isn’t much of a contract to sign. I don’t want a label like that. I am putting out records for bands I like with the intention of them getting a physical record in their hands to get into the hands of the people that like them and not much else than that really. I also only want to release music I personally like and since I like a lot of different kinds of music I suppose there will be a lot of different styles on the label. So with that in mind the next thing out will be a single from BAIN WOLFKIND and then a full length LP from a band called DREADLORDS. Both are great in their own right and I’m really excited to get a copy on vinyl for myself.

As far as I´m informed you have released two 7" split records with the Californian singer-songwriter Chelsea Wolfe. How did it get to this cooperation?

I think we both were just starting to play more shows at the time and I was asked by her label to come down to LA and play a couple of shows with her so I did. We had never met before but luckily we got all along really well. When the idea came up to do a record together it just seemed like a great excuse to hang out with Chelsea some more and maybe we could write music together. I had a great time recording that first split and it wasn’t long afterwards that we decided to do another record together. I had my new label so we decided to release it on Not Just Religious Music since the last one was with her label Sargent House. I seriously love Chelsea Wolfe. She’s the best.

In which way would you call yourself a religious person?

I consider myself to be Luciferian but that doesn’t mean that I go to a Luciferian church or belong to any organization or order. The way I see it is my faith is an intensely solitary and personal path that leads me towards enlightenment and freedom from the bonds of flesh and blood while granting me the divinity to cast Light into darkness.

When will we be able to see KING DUDE on German stages again? And can we expect you to play with one of your other bands with us? Are there for example any gigs of BOOK OF BLACK EARTH planned so far?

I’ll be back in Germany in spring of 2015. I wouldn’t expect BOOK OF BLACK EARTH to tour anytime soon, I think I’ve got my hands full enough with things the way they are now!

Do you have some special final statement for your fans in Germany?

Thank you for the endless support, Love and Light and I hope to see you all very soon!