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Campbell James Kneale (Our Love Will Destroy The World)

Campbell James Kneale (Our Love Will Destroy The World)

Interviewed by
Chris Cudby
Thursday 25th September, 2014 1:22PM

For lovers of uncompromising sound production in New Zealand, Campbell James Kneale needs zero introduction. Under a variety of pseudonyms his output has been sonically and literally HUGE - from the charred sub-bass doom metal of Black Boned Angel, to Our Love Will Destroy The World's dense holographic noisescapes, to Brilliant Swords' mystic post-Husker Du melodic punk, the diversity of Kneale's projects is unified by the intensity of his vision. Thanks to Campbell James Kneale for taking time out to answer some questions in advance of this Friday's Our Love Will Destroy The World show at the Audio Foundation...

What can punters expect when they see Our Love Will Destroy The World live?

Well, my music is an exchange of energy so it depends on the characteristics of the room, the PA, and the audience, but some kinda malevolent microtonal violence, ecstatic boredom, and extreme body gnosis would be an excellent place to start the blueprint. "We will see" as they say.

It seems like almost every time I've see you play live it's as a different incarnation of your sound – as Birchville Cat Motel, Black Boned Angel, Brilliant Swords, and coming up Our Love Will Destroy The World. Why separate your output into these distinct (often concurrently running) identities?

"Music" as such doesn’t really interest me as much as "bending space and time" (for which music is a great tool), and each of these band names denote a unique strategy for achieving that goal. In most ways their objectives and outcomes bear little resemblance other than some obvious overlaps at their ragged edges. I have always had a "mothership" kinda musical vehicle but I have usually worked from the premise that I will only play the music I actually want to hear and with this comes the usual swings and phases that most healthy people embrace to avoid boredom. I have very little interest in developing a "trainspotter" type interest in any one genre, but I do have a pretty good general knowledge of the ways many people have made music over the course of recorded history... everything from ‘80s pop to horror movie soundtracks to Negro slave music of South America. I kinda don’t get the idea of only letting certain ideas enter into the music a person makes, it smacks of easy marketing and hints at the ugly life-force behind (ahem) MOST contemporary music. I’ll genuinely give any kind of music a crack, given that I will be approaching it from a certain heartfelt techniquelessness. My Dire Straits phase was singularly unimpressive.

In your discussion with Antony Milton in Erewhon Calling you talk about not being so interested in talking about your music as "art". Do you see your output as being part of the spectrum of pop music, or...?

Yes you are right, I consider most definitions of contemporary art to be magic-less, meaningless, crap and almost all the "now" kinda artists you could name to be nothing but desperately over-schooled, funding-seekers with their faces pressed up against the window of the art worlds revolting middle class dinner party. Ditto pop music. And definitely ditto noise music. I simply don’t care about any of it… it's so dreary and boring. I make music that I like because it meaningful to me and allows me to connect some dots around my own experiences. I don’t expect others to like it although it is always welcome when people do. At times others have been able to align it with "this" and at times with "that" but in the end none of this matters other than the perverse joy I get from watching the diverse ways that people can attach meaning to such blankness. I reject the term artist, and the term musician is just silly when you apply it to most of what I've recorded. There has got to be more to life than the crap we are handed by handed by "experts". Bah! Humbug!

Your recorded output is pretty massive – as seen on your Bandcamp page, plus I get the feeling that's just the tip of the iceberg. Are you still “a recovering workaholic”?

No, no… I've recovered and repented. All this began nearly 20 years ago when I had unending time and energy for the most inconsequential of things… it was a period of time that rewarded hard work… these days that approach only plays in to the mind-dulling overload of the internet and has a soul-destroying effect on me. Disconnection from the totalitarianism of the city is far more rewarding than the mindlessness of having "stuff to do" with people that are exact cultural reflections of yourself. Finding the genuine humanity in what I do and creating a "lifetime's work" is much more interesting to me than the tired rah-rah of labels, and blogs, and reviews, and the politics of being a listener. Again, art is such a yawn.

I've been seeing images of your 30-minute paintings crop up online, which seem different to earlier abstract works of yours as they're very representational. Is there any relation between your painting and your music practice?

Well, no… not directly. Although if you like to view things through a certain prism my painting is also driven by the idea of creating a "lifetime's work", then yeah, there may be overarching similarities that explain why I continue such futile practices. If it could be said that I am only interested in genuine and inimitable sound as music, then I am also interested in producing things to look at that capture a certain charged improvisation and developing a genuine and inimitable visual "handwriting" of sorts within them… hence the extremely limiting 5, 10, 15, and 30 minute paintings. They deny expertise and finish in favour of magic moments.

What do you get up to when you're not making music or painting?

Over the last couple of years I have spent a lot of time learning the traditional craft of briar pipemaking… y’know, like "smoking pipes". I am not a handy man of any description and it has been utterly earth-shattering to uncover the simple, rewarding, contemplative joys of patience, perseverance and concentration in the search for a "perfection"… a rustic, bashed up, kinda perfection, but still governed by the idea of making something that is exactly the way it should be rather than the result of some flippant art-process. Dust, noise, and smoke! Its so great to work with physical rather than digital tools and its so great to work on something that has almost no social currency. I am being informally mentored by an older gentleman in Nelson who is New Zealand's last traditional pipemaker and he is in the process of "retiring" from the craft so I am working really hard to deserve the mantle of New Zealand's NEXT last pipemaker, haha.

What's coming up in the near future?

Vinyl LPs entitled Carnivorous Rainbows and Xerxes Astral Megafauna out on Badabing (USA) and Blackest Rainbow (UK) respectively, but homeburnt CDRs and cassettes in limited editions on my own Don’t Fuck With Magic imprint are still my favourite though. I have almost done away with distribution in any meaningful sense so a lot of what I make can only be found at live gigs. Come along! But to be honest, my big challenge at the moment is developing my exit plan from full time employment. Although I have been a high school art teacher for the last 15 years, I have never been a "career minded" person and I have come to understand that "making stuff" in various capacities is the thing I have really given my utmost to over the years. Is it still a "career" if you don’t make any money from it? Yes, I think so. So I am beginning a process of extricating myself from the "need to" aspects of my work and focussing more on the ‘want to’. I want to spend less time at the behest of an employer and more time constructing the life that is denied to most of us because of this artificial sense of need created by the capitalist fundamentalism of our time in history. Of course, I might end up having to eat my own shoes. Sigh.

Our Love Will Destroy The World with Richard Francis and Cross Talk from 8pm on Friday 26th September at the Audio Foundation Auckland, presales HERE at UTR.

Campbell James Kneale solo performance is from 2pm on Saturday 27th September, Audio Foundation, koha entry.

  This interview is brought to you by the Audio Foundation.