you were born in abroad, and have lived all around the
world during your childhood. How do you think this has
affected you as an adult?
I was born
in Malta a small island in the Mediterranean, my dadís
English and my mother Maltese, I have lived in Dubai
(Arabia) for a short time, then Brunei (Borneo) for
most of my childhood. I moved back to England when I
was 10 and went to school in Devon, then came to London
in my teens. How has it affected me? Well I had a broad
cultural upbringing, my schooling was very progressive,
I have a good understanding of different faiths and
cultural attitudes. I still have a hunger for travel
and exploration of cultures, be it politics, music or
is your nationality on your passport?
I have two
passports. Iíve got dual nationality: Maltese and English.
Malta gets me into places like Libya and Turkey without
the grief of belonging to an arrogant colonial power
with an army under the influence of George Bush,
you choose to settle down in London?
I moved back
to England fairly young, went to school here. As a teenager
I was in the suburbs just close enough to go to
gigs in town. Why London ? Music, music, music. Plus
my girlfriend bought a beautiful but quite decrepit
house in East London Iíve been living in central London
for 5 years now. It's a very creative area of town.
There are a lot of people working hard at there craft
here, a lot of new boutiques, designers, musicians,
witch makes for a good supportive network for the development
of new ideas.
two first albums were released through Planet Mu. How
did you get to work for Mike Paradinasís record label?
I like what
he did, I was experimenting with sound collages and
a 4 track and Rachael (NDLR: Kristianís girlfriend)
was sending me mix tapes of all the records she was
buying, and hearing Mikeís music helped turn me onto
the sound of drum machines and synths. I saw him live
a few times and then my girlfriend gave him a tape at
a gig because I was too chicken to let anyone hearf
it. He called me up and asked if I fancied making an
album. I said yes, all right then, seeing as Iíd almost
finished making one. I knew the right thing would come
along when the time was right. Iím a firm believer in
fate. I ended up making two albums because he's a good
businessman and has a knack of getting you to sign pieces
of paper when you shouldn't.
Of The Empire had a much more electronic feel than
Island Row, even if you already were using
guitars a lot, and songs such as Janome Home,
People or Lagoon previewed what Capitol
Kís next releases would sound like. Was it a deliberate
choice to develop a more ďliveĒ feel on your records?
Of The Empire was all based on studio experiments
and at the time I wrote a few lyrical guitar tracks
but wasn't happy with the way they turned out. The ones
I liked went on the album so I took my time experimenting
at introducing guitar and vocals; let things grow at
there natural pace. With Island Row I found
myself back to the home studio set up, logistics of
recording at home meant that live drums and screaming
guitars were out, and more time was devoted to writing
songs and a simpler sampled guitar and voice type of
atmosphere. Tracks like Anon and Soundwaves
were written for the first album but working them in
a new way meant that they got better, my music has always
been about capturing performance and thereís always
a live element. Sounds Of The Empire was a
very live album, a more dub style live sampling mix
downs and delay boxes.
think that people who liked Sounds Of The Empire
might not follow you on Island Row because
of the more radical sound?
I never thought
about that to be honest, Sounds Of The Empire
and Island Row are similar pieces of work,
they sound totally different but theyíre from the same
did you use to listen to when you were a kid, and what
brought you to develop an interest in electronic music?
Brunei, I heard a lot of Chinese pop music (on radio,
in shops), and a lot of marching band music, simply
because there was a large military presence there at
the time protecting the vast oil reserves. We had a
record by the army of the United Arab Emirates. It was
amazing! They played traditional Arabic songs with Arabic
percussion praising Allah. I loved Abba for a while
then Blondie and the Clash, and then I started listening
to Metal and had a good phase with the ripped denim
and bad t-shirts. My taste refined and I got crazy for
grunge and hardcore, particularly Fugazi and Sonic Youth.
This led me to Japanese noisecore and bands like the
Bordoms, then came a kind of watershed and the whole
spectrum of sound opened up all the way from pop to
techno to modern composers. Now Iím listing to a lot
of late punk, new wave, and modern electro. Both Rachael
and I collect a lot of records. We have thousands of
records and really enjoy Djing.
to get inspiration from very diverse sources, ranging
from pop/rock to lo-fi electronica. What influences
you? Who would you say has made a mark on your musical
I ever heard has had some influence at some level, but
on this album I was very much influenced by imagery,
people and places. A lot of the music has a very visual
element and a lot of the time I have a story or some
imagery that Iím trying to express in a song. This somehow
explains the way I can cross over a lot of barriers
and genres because I just use whatever I can to get
to the point or express the story. Anon is
the story of land struggles in Palestine and Israel,
using a lot of biblical imagery. In Breakers
Iím playing the sound of the ocean breaking on the shores
of the beach were I played and swam a lot as a child.
City is London.
you want to re-work on Island Row before re-releasing
it on XL Recordings? Is it true that you were not entirely
happy with the first version released on Planet Mu?
A bit like
brain damage or amnesia, all the information is in the
brain but its jumbled up and confused and when you open
your mouth its all gobbledegook. Take the same brain
and same information but everything is working right
and it all makes sense, does that make sense? I finished
the first version because I was exhausted and couldn't
go on. There were tracks I was working on that I hadn't
finished, hence essential parts of the story were missing.
Now it is perfect,
worked with John ďLeafcutterĒ Burton, that we interviewed
at the beginning of last year, on Duffle Coat, and heís
also remixed Pillow for you. His musical universe tends
to be very different from yours. How did you come to
work together, and what do you think he brought to your
I first met
John when I went along to the cut for his first album,
Concourse, and we just got on instantly. The
funny thing is that his musical universe is not actually
as far removed as it would seem at first. He has a love
for location recordings and live sound, we were both
into a lot of the same music when we were younger, he's
an incredibly talented musician and Iíd like to think
I am too, so we have a lot to show and teach each other.
We've both had a lengthy period of isolated studio work
and so it's nice to thrash things out live and collaborate.
Now that Johnís joining me on stage, he gets to perform
very different material in very different environments
and venues and he's a great one at rising to a challenge.
Keeps me motivated too! Having John pushing the digital
realm forward frees me up for getting serious with my
voice and the guitar and is proving to be really exciting.
The live show is definitely very exciting,
have plans for other collaborations?
a few young musicians doing some really good stuff.
One of them is Patrick Wolf. He's writing and recording
some really amazing music on a laptop and comes to my
studio to mix down, his stuff should be coming out really
soon hopefully through my own label Faith & Industry
if the label works out and doesnít prove to be too time
consuming, then who knows what else could happen.
Dance On on the previous version of Island
Row. How did the idea of this cover come about?
Why did you drop it for the new version?
I did Dance
On at the request of Rex Records who were doing
a Prince tribute record. That project seemed to be moving
slow, so the track went on Island Row. You can
now find Dance On on If I Was Prince
through Rex Records. There are some really good Prince
covers on there, by people like Peaches, Fort Lauderdale,
and Op:l Bastards, plus I didnít want people being distracted
from my own song writing by a brilliant cover version.
kind of music are you listening at the moment? What
is the last album you bought?
brought: Wire: 154
Mum And Dad
LP (Twisted Nerve)
LP (Flesh Records)
music is very often more complex and sophisticated than
it seems, with loads going on in the background. How
do you actually work?
I spend a
lot of time on the layering of sound. I like it when
there are different layers of sound you can get into
the mix and drift through it and hopefully every time
you listen, there will be something new. There for you,
my set up is very lo-fi and simple, a lot of time I
write and record something, comeback to it, dissect
it, re-do a part, take a dictaphone clip, build up a
large collage of sounds, find the part that works best,
throw the rest away and start again. I spend a lot of
time on each tracks and get pretty meticulous with some
of the finer details.
inspires you to compose? Do you have different ways
of working for instrumental tracks and songs?
I'm a bit
of a workaholic and always tend to create something.
I recently composed a few track over Christmas at Rachaelís
parentsí house. It's in the Lake District. Itís incredibly
beautiful and thereís a piano there. Sometimes I play
around on a laptop, other times on a guitar. I don't
have any set rules. I try to push new things. I play
new material live as much as possible. I suppose this
comes from playing in bands, seems when you play stuff
out it's much easier to get an idea weather it is working
or not. This rule can't be applied to everything mind.
the idea of the rag doll featured on your more recent
releases come up? Is it supposed to be a representation
of yourself or is it just your way to say that you donít
produce faceless electronic music?
All the art
direction comes from my girlfriend Rachael Matthews.
She works with textiles, kind of crossing over between
sculpture and fashion. She makes all the props and strange
toys for the videos and album covers, the rag dolls
have always lived with us and it just seemed right to
use them. You could read what ever you want into it
and you'd probably be right.. The doll is Capitol k
pay attention to what the press says about your music
in reviews or features, and how does it affect you?
not to when it makes all the difference between getting
on the Radio 1 playlist or not, selling your record
or no one hearing it and not selling. The state of the
press in Britain for some areas of the arts is fucked
and our attitude is terrible, the whole emphasis is
on following there own agenda, pigeon-holing, building
barriers, and marginalising artists. Capitol k does
not fit in the current agenda. As a friend put it: "it's
a bit like trying to sell Martin Creed to THE SUN".
European magazines are far superior, more open. They
actually have a love of music and see it as there job
to tell you about EVERTHING that is happening out there.
A lot of British journalists are just social climbers,
desperate to be seen with the right crowd at the right
party or gig or whatever. It all comes from having too
much critic power. It all goes to their head. They think
theyíre more important than the music. Some even think
they are the ones changing things. They don't really
do us any favours. England needs to get off its high
horse and open up a bit.
is coming up in the Capitol K diary?
Quite a lot
of gigs. Iím on a mission to play to as many people
and different audiences as possible. Everything from
Mixing It on BBC Radio 3 to supporting Kosheen. Iíve
got a lot of new material written and we (John and I)
have been developing it live so, at some point, it would
be nice to get definitive versions done. Also, I'm starting
a label named Faith & Industry to release some fine
fine music that some friends have been creatingÖ
K on stage, what does it sound like?
and vocals, breaks, drum loops, live electro-acoustic
treatmentsÖ Occasionally, when the audience is right
I do allot of spontaneous mix down and let some random
factors in. Sounds a bit like the albums really, only
a bit rougher and harder and more ''live ". Also, I
play a lot of new material live.
have any idea of where youíre going for Island Row?
Have you already got a feeling of what the follow up
will sound like or is it something youíd rather not
think about too much?
I know a
lot what the next record will sound like, most of the
ground work is done. The tracks are written and Iím
working on lyrics concepts and honing the songs down
in the live arena... It's all quite different again,
so I think there will be more than just a few raised
eyebrows when it's released. Ever evolving... constantly
is the meaning of Capitol K?
was a character I created when freestyling some vocals,
it means Ego and just fit in with the idea of going
CAPITOL K EXPRESS INTERVIEW
place to find inspiration?
greatest albums ever released?
that's too hard a question... It'd take me a week to
think that through
track that changed your life?
Clash - London Calling L.P
you were not Kristian Robinson, who would you be?
Kristian Craig (bastard child)
Sunday morning, what do you do?
Wake late, have sex, get a bag of records, go to Adrian's
coffee shop (coffee@brick lane) and play records to
our friends and the customers for about 5 hours, go
to the pub, have a couple of drinks, probally bump into
more friends who have been working the market (Spitafields),
then get a curry and back to the pub just in time for
to Kristian and Rich @ Almaroad.