DUPE talks to artist and musician K Craig
You are quite creatively versatile (music, art, video). What did you get into first? Do you have a preferred field?
I’d always drawn - gig posters and flyers- a few illustrations for zines. That spiralled into doing a couple of album covers. I didn’t start with music until quite late, I guess. I was 21 and approached in a nightclub by Marc Rahr (one third of A.R.C. Soundtracks). He’d just carved up the dance floor, spooky insane dancing, landing sprawled in a heap to the final beat of The Birthday Party’s ‘Release The Bats’. He asked if I was a singer. I said yes (I really wasn’t). And that was it. We were in a band. I’d never considered it before. That band collapsed within months, but it was there that I started being involved with music.
One thing tied into the next, I began doing more album covers for projects I was involved with, then making films grew from that. But it all comes from the same drive. The music and the video and the art are just different ways of creating a window into the Other place. Video is great for that because it is so much about mood and atmosphere. It’s sound and image working together. Everything coalesces into a big, interlinked whole.
How do you work? What inspires you?
It usually starts with little experiments, really. An amount of ambiguity from the beginning is important to me. I never really want to know exactly what it is I’m making, I need to keep a part of it unknown. I’ll throw an idea around for a while, discard most of it, start again, go back to the beginning, abandon everything, pick up the pieces and sometimes -sometimes- there’s a little spark there, something I didn’t consciously make. If there’s enough of those little sparks, then you’ve got the beginning of something. That’s the part of the process that I’m interested in. Once things are finished I don’t really tend to got back to them. Other times things just fall out, fully formed and ready. And I really try not to think about that too much, just let it happen and don’t ask any questions. Things just churn away, under the surface.
If you were a color, what would you be? And why?
Do you always dress in black? Since when? Pictures please.
I’ve worn black everyday since I was about 14. Every day. It’s such a teenage thing to do. In the beginning it was all small town subcultures and misguided attempts of self expression, flailing around and looking ridiculous. Teenage rebellions which meant a lot to me, but nothing to anyone else. The same thing pretty much everyone goes through. But I became so used to wearing black, so comfortable in it, that it stayed.
All of my clothes match. If I need to buy clothes then my options are instantly cut down to one question -‘Is it black?’ I never clash with anyone else, it never dates, it’s appropriate for every occasion, it’s utilitarian. I wear a pair of black overalls when I work. The perfect working outfit. It just seems to be the right thing to do. I really cannot see myself ever not wearing black. It never bores me.
What does “dark” makes you think about? How does it appeal to your imagination?
Of all the different forms of ‘dark’ in cinema or artworks or music, the type which appeals to me isn’t just the dark which is linked to horror or the unpleasant or miserablism (although they all play a part). Darkened rooms, night scenes, high contrasts. The type of place where something could happen. There’s something very intimate about that kind of darkness. Looking at that unknown quality, it can be glamorous or touching or dramatic in ways that the everyday can’t. ‘Dark’ isn’t the same as ‘creepy’. Everything can happen in the dark. It’s ambiguous enough that the most amazing thing can still be totally devastating. So I feel that the ‘dark’ is very much a place beyond the everyday, where certainties no longer really apply.
I do have some problem with the term ’dark’ when used to describe the foregrounding of previously hidden subtext in (for example) children’s stories for an adult audience. That’s incredibly prevalent in popular culture at the moment. I don’t really need a ‘dark’ version of Hansel And Gretal or Alice In Wonderland. The beauty of the darkness in those tales is already there. To draw attention to it, to take that those motifs and write them large, just removes any ‘darkness’ for me.
What are you working on at the moment?
David Armes and I have just released the A.R.C Soundtracks album. This was really important to us, the project was instigated with Marc Rahr in an effort to capture some of his musical ideas.
So we improvised over several weekends, started building sound collages. And we kept going back and refining these pieces, over a couple of years. Then in 2012, Marc died. So eventually, David and I felt that we had to release these pieces as an album. This has led to a kind of curated record label, Little Crack’d Rabbit, releasing all kinds of experimental music. I’m in the process of making films to accompany these recordings. We’re also working another Last Harbour album. That should be ready for release next year.
There’s also a film/installation project that I’m working on at the moment which deals with the Sublime, science-fiction, mysterious faculties and institutions, pseudo-science, meditative practices and hoaxes. It’s called ‘The Swedenborg Institute’. I’m hoping to show that over the next year.
What would be your top 10 “dark” films and/or songs?
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me - David Lynch
David Lynch is a fairly obvious reference for ‘darkness’ in cinema, but I completely fell for Fire Walk With Me. Lynchian cinematic tics in full force.
Night Of The Hunter - Charles Laughton
A famously ‘dark’ film. The river boat scene is another touchstone in dark cinema.
The Turin Horse - Bela Tarr
The Innocents - Jack Clayton
Gothic thrills, weirdo children, ghosts, sexual undercurrents and madness.
Onibaba - Kaneto Shindo
Beautifully shot Japanese horror from 1964.
Midnight Black Earth - Bohren & der Club of Gore
Sloooooow German jazz. I saw them play live recently and there was more dry ice than I ever thought possible.
Past, Present, Future- The Shangri-Las
I could easily have chosen Dressed In Black or He Cried, but the first time I heard this song I needed to hear it again and again. Moonlight Sonata and spoken word vocals.
Superstar - The Carpenters
The song is great and bittersweet and all, but I find the final, unresolved note heartbreaking and strange. Sonic Youth’s cover version is also also great.
Shut Me Down - Roland S Howard
Dark, dark pop from the under-rated Roland S Howard, who passed away in 2009. Either this or ‘Shivers’- the ultimate teen angst song, written when he was 16.
Farmer In The City- Scott Walker
Epic and scary and sad. Scott at his best, I think.