AC : What was the first time you performed as a musician?
KH : At my high-school festival(5)
maybe. I was in a cover band. We played stuff by The Stones, The Beatles, umm what else?
By the time I was in high-school I was already listening to psychedelic music–in Japan,
it was known as "art rock" though. I was aware of Cream, Jimi Hendrix and all
of that scene, but the other people in the band weren't maniac record collectors and all
they knew were The Stones and The Beatles. So I just went along with what they knew...
Then I dropped out of high-school half way through my sophomore year.(6)
AC : What was it about music specifically, as opposed to theatre or art, say,
that attracted you so much?
KH : I think it must have been the idea of singing songs. I'd loved singing from
when I was very young, so it was like I could do that, and I could do something theatrical,
and on top of that there was some sort of a message in it too. The difference between me and
everyone else back then in the sixties–it wasn't like this when I was in junior high, but by
the time I was around seventeen and was in high school I hated communication with a vengeance.
Especially because at that time everyone was flashing peace signs and all of that. There
wasn't so much of it in Japan, but in the rest of the world everyone was singing songs about
peace–I loathed it all. So I wanted to make music that was different from that. This all
came together around the time I left high school, and The Doors just fit my ideas exactly.
What I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it was totally different from The Beatles and
their ilk. All this stuff links up if you think about it. Like what people always say about
Jim Morrison and the stuff that happened in Miami: how he'd seen a theatre group who'd been
directly influenced by Artaud and it had blown his mind. Of course, I wasn't reading Artaud
back in junior high. I got into him later and then I found out that Jim Morrison liked his
ideas, too. We were both inspired by the same sort of people. I don't like to use the word
"influenced," but if I think back now, Jim Morrison possibly had an effect on me
far beyond any ideas of influence. Maybe it's like that scene in the movie where Jim Morrison
sees the Indian and absorbs him–maybe Jim Morrison entered into me.
AC : Like a spirit-guide, or whatever.
KH : Yeah, possibly. But still there are certain pitiful aspects of what he did
that I want to stay away from, drugs, etc.
AC : Were you aware of Albert Ayler when you were playing with Lost Aaraaff?
KH : He exists in my memory, but I'm never conscious of him. I mean, I don't
compare what I do with what he did. All I'm aware of is that he took the music to a certain
point, but no further. I was thinking about this earlier–and I'm old enough now to start
making sweeping statements. There are all these people–The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Ayler–people
that I like. They've all possessed parts of the essence of expression. If you imagine the
essence of expression as a huge object, then Jim Morrison and so on are all just a minuscule
part of that. They didn't have enough–all they had was maybe one thousandth of the whole.
Albeit that's a lot better than most musicians who don't even have that. I think that I can
possibly become the sum of all those bits. Ten or twenty years ago, the power and
effectiveness of my performances were very slight, but I have managed to really increase that
through training. If the essence of expression actually exists, then I am an amalgamation of
all those separate essences. Though I think that probably this essence of expression doesn't
actually exist. For example, Artaud dismembered words to take them back to the basic sounds.
In that sense, the bits I liked of them all still exist within me. I never feel like I no
longer need Jimi Hendrix or Jim Morrison. I still listen to Blue Cheer once every few years.
I still like all the things I once liked. That said, there are many parts of them I hate.
AC : Have you completely absorbed them?
KH : There is no such thing as completely. If the whole is one thousand, then I
only want to get as far as nine hundred and ninety-nine. If there is anyone who comes after
me, then they can begin from where I left off. I would like there to be more musicians like
me–I'd like to meet them. The person I'd most like to play with at the moment is a certain
Iranian musician, a guy who plays the tár(7). I'm not interested in the politics or
system, not in any discriminatory sense–I'm interested in individuals.
What I want to know is why are there no proper musicians now? Or is
it because I've worked so hard that everyone else appears so weak? Whatever–it's very
boring for me. The reason why I still listen to so much music is because I want to discover
someone who is better than me. I want to find someone who can tell me that what I'm doing
isn't that great. Human beings need that kind of competitive stimulus to keep on going
further. When I pick up a new instrument I get a real rush of power as I try to work out
how to play it.
AC : Is what you are trying to communicate through music also communicable
through different arts–for example, painting, or theatre, or dance?
KH : At the start I had no interest in other genres, but as I have thoroughly
explored music I've found that other genres have possibly begun to be relevant to what
I'm doing. As an example, Artaud thoroughly investigated words and in the end it lead
him to a relationship with sound. It's close to that, I think. Through doing music, I've
come to painting.
AC : Is that a recent thing?
KH : In terms of painting for other people to see, yes. Just since last year.
AC : What about dance?
KH : For me, everything comes back to sound. Everything comes from sound.
Sound can be expressed in terms of colour, in terms of the relationship between people,
or the relationship between your limbs.
AC : Why are you so interested in singing? You talked about being impressed
originally with the power of rock, but to me songs seem to have much less of an immediate
impact–less power, more of a sense of beauty in the construction or delivery.
KH : I sing because I want a sense of becoming one with someone outside of
myself. I don't like using the word "message," but what I want is that feeling
of union. Back when I was doing Lost Aaraaff I had absolutely no interest in that. I
didn't want any points of contact with people, to become one with them. It was like I
would just explode by myself, and if people wanted to get close to that then that was
their problem. That element still exists inside me somewhere. But over the years I have
studied different methods of presentation–whether I should explode suddenly, or gently
draw people in. I don't like words like "balance" or "control" as
they imply that something is contrived–I would prefer to say that I constantly choose
the most effective method of presentation while I'm performing. I don't think about
what I'm going to do the day before. I respond to the internal vibrations of each sound
as it appears, and decide which type of sound will follow it most effectively. I construct
the sounds one by one.
AC : Back when you were doing Lost Aaraaff, did you ever use external
stimulants like alcohol or drugs?
KH : Never. I had and have absolutely no interest in that. And that's why I am
the way I am now. I don't resemble anyone, nor do I have any intention of doing so. I
want to avoid the gaze of god. God is always watching, always following and that's why
people are able to do things. When I do something, I don't want it to be under the gaze
of god. If I do it properly then I can avoid that gaze. That's the true meaning of being
an outsider. That's where everyone goes wrong. The reason why people say that they want
to be free is because they aren't. They want to be something that they aren't–but once
you are conscious of that, the same state will persist forever. That's why I am an
outsider in the true sense of the word–I am something else. I don't mean blaspheming
and saying fuck you to god. Everyone is born a descendant of god–the true outsider
wishes to go somewhere else. That's what I want to do. I believe that I need to do that
in order to make my own music. There's no one who can legitimately use the word
"myself"–everyone is a "too." That's why I think that I am justified
in saying "I myself" so much in my lyrics. And that is far more difficult than
taking drugs. What I am doing is the real stimulant. To truly perceive yourself, to
realize that you are alone and then see how far you can go on your own.
AC : Have you always been interested in religion, or did you gradually
begin to think and connect what you were doing with god later?
KH : It's not thought, it's consciousness. Thinking is
something that you do after the event, you analyze it. Consciousness is something
that exists before, during and after. I don't like this idea of just thinking... For me,
consciousness is the most important thing. When I listen to someone's music, first I try
to feel what they are conscious of–melody, rhythm and so on comes later.