Interview: Klown Kampf

Klown Kampf

Don’t be fooled. Hip-hop band Klown Kampf might look like the cast of a straight-to-DVD horror movie but they are actual qualified clowns. They started life as a theatrical show. There have since been many different members and many new beginnings. They have imploded several times but have always been pieced back together by the two founding members Klown and Scarlett.
We caught up with the two of them on a sunny afternoon – exactly 5 years to the day from when it all began – for a picnic in the park.
And if you are wondering what evil looking clowns bring to a picnic (and at this point I can’t see how you couldn’t be) we can reveal that they are very fond of fresh fruit.
I guess being an evil clown is hard work. They need their 5-a-day.

First question, then. How did Klown Kampf begin?
: Well the very beginning of Klown Kampf happened at a bus stop, where all the best things begin. I met Scarlett and she asked about some gloves that I was wearing. They were fingerless gloves but, they had a bit on that you could fold over, turning them into mittens.
It very quickly spiralled out of control from there to the point where we ran off from university to a clown school in Finland. An actual bona fide clown school.
Scarlett: The Helsinki mime centre.
K: Yeah that’s right. It was run by this old school clown from New York, Adam Darius. It was questionable why he was even in Finland but he had been a clown for 25 years, bless his cotton socks. So it all began to take form there, where we learned about Commedia dell’arte, which is like a 16th century form of Italian clowning and they were the political terrorists of their day – and that phrase got me hooked. I was like ‘political terrorist clowns’ – that’s what we need today.

So how did you evolve from students of a clown school, into a hip-hop band?
: Okay well, it’s been a really long process. It began as a theatrical experience, a stage show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – 5 years ago to the day – there was a whole troop of us, including musicians and Finland’s national break-dance champion.
K: And, might I add, Finland’s national wrestling champion a couple of years previous.
S: Yeah, he got hooked in. So it was a show and a movement to begin with and it kept changing and evolving.
K: And then the hip-hop thing happened when I worked at this bar, Fez Club, and there was a group, The Runaways, that used to a do a night there. Their music was trip-hop and we wanted a musical soundscape for our show so I asked one of them, Joe, to produce that for us. After that I started working in a Hilton Hotel with a friend of mine. He was crazy. He had been in some Egyptian cult where he used to take a lot of acid. He was on a different level. Anyway, we would rap back and forth over the breakfast shift, just making up little rhymes for our own entertainment. Eventually I realised that if I put some of those together, I would have a verse.
So I went back to Joe and broached the idea of the hip-hop clown. He was already into his weird old school rap like Dr Octagon and Swollen Members and things like that and he felt that this could be…
S: The next big thing!
K: (Laughing) Yeah! And that is how we moved from a show to a hip-hop act.

So aside from ‘hip-hop’, how would you describe your music?
K: I quite like the phrase ‘the sound of 2012′.
S: Yeah.
K: I think it encapsulates the galactic changes that are coming to the planet. This music is, if you like, the grounding of those changes. It’s bringing those huge galactic events into a common vernacular so that the man in the street can understand what’s going to happen as our sun eclipses with the centre of the galaxy.

On that note, I understand that your song ‘Hot Nasty Summer’ predicts that the beginning of the end will happen in 2012. If that is the case, are you pissed that Hollywood made a film about it?
: No, no. I actually nearly had a fit when I saw that trailer. I was so excited that finally my ideas were getting credence on the big screen. I watched that clip multiple times just kind of almost fitting in front of the screen.
And it is definitely a prediction, I probably went a little further than Hollywood dared to. Having said that, what I’m predicting isn’t the end full stop. It’s the end of this period. We’re moving out of the age of Pisces and into the age of Aquarius, at the same time aligning with the centre of the galaxy and things are going to change. That song is what I think will take place when this happens.

On a lighter note, who are your influences, musically speaking?
: (Laughing) My Mum – Diana Ross.
K: For me it’s anything that has a real beat with heart. I listen to all sorts of music and as long as it has that punch, that urgency, as long as it speaks to you. It doesn’t matter if it’s pop or punk or hip-hop. But whatever it is, it’s got to have that sincerity.

It’s interesting that you mentioned punk because I can definitely hear a real element of punk within nearly all of your songs. Is that something you’re very aware of?
: Yeah, definitely. I mean at this juncture, singing and holding a melody isn’t really a strength of mine, so punk seemed a natural choice!
S: And we’re pretty fucking punky, anyway.

So what is your proudest KK moment so far?
: Wow. That’s tough. There’s quite a few stand out moments. I think completing a 26 day run at Fringe is right up there. I mean, that was pretty intense. 26 nights in a row. Sometimes playing to a crowd of one!
K: Yeah, drunks, tramps, whoever we could coax in off the street. Actually one woman that we hustled in – she was a drunk – and we actually had to accent words at certain points just to make sure she stayed awake!
S: Yes! Also getting through to the final of Live and Unsigned. That was pretty cool.
K: Yeah, and then actually not even going to it because the band we had at the time imploded just before it happened! For me though, getting voted ‘Worst Of Fringe 2005′ with 75% of the vote and winning a reviewer an award called ‘Best Bitch’, which is awarded for the harshest review of a festival act, was pretty special. I didn’t even find out we had won such a prestigious title until I googled us a few months later at a friends house.
S: Yeah, bring it on. It’s good to win such titles for your debut performance.
K: Yeah, to me that shows that even when we’re the worst, we’re the best at it!
S: Yeah that was a real love it or hate it show.
K: Oh yeah, and another proud moment was getting the finished album through, which happened on my Birthday this year. Just seeing it all there, actually real. A culmination of a good few years in darkened studios.

Where do you think you fit into British music today?
: We don’t.
S: We don’t assimilate.
K: Yeah we’re here to dominate not assimilate. We’re here to take over.

Have you got anything coming up?
: I’ve been working on a Techno remix which I hope to play at various squat parties and the like. It’s centred around one of my favourite rhymes; ‘Fuck you Big Brother, CCTV motherfucker.’ That is all you need for a Techno tune!

I know you don’t shy away from politics, so what do you make of our Coalition Government?
: Well, I think that David Cameron is doing a sterling job of travelling the world, selling fighter jets and nuclear fuel to developing countries. That’s a big move on his part. In real terms though, I do feel that this government is acting against the interests of the people. I’m not saying Labour was perfect but a lot of the things they were doing provided a lot of support for the people. Arguably too much, I suppose. But I feel that the Con-Dem alliance is much more of a pro European movement and I feel that is against the best interest of the Country. I think what this Country really needs is a strong Monarchy and I feel that Prince William is the big hope for our future. We need a King to lead this Country. I’ve done a little research on this and we can legally petition the King to take back the rule of the Country if we feel the Government is acting against our best interest. So that’s what I would like. Many people would probably say that I’m an anarchist but I would really describe myself as a monarchist. This is the political future that we need.
S: And I deem them all to be cunt-fearing-cock-worshipping-moles. That’s my opinion.

What would you like to have achieved with KK in, say, 10 years time?
: 10 years time? I think 2 years time is the bench mark.
K: Yeah 2 years is more like it. What I would like to see is KK with a strong and determined following who are making genuine moves on the world stage for the betterment of humanity. We want people that give a shit enough to actually get off of their fat, lazy arses and do something. Because if we don’t, these ‘moles’, are going to send us to some deep dark tunnels.
S: And for ‘Hot Nasty Summer’ to be the anthem of 2012.
K: Yeah, number one! And longer at number one than Rhianna’s ‘Umbrella’, and just like her song saw the wettest summer in British history, we want ours to see the hottest!

And finally, do you have a message for our readers?
: We’re here to inspire the masses to their own enlightenment. Get involved and get evolved.

If getting evolved sounds like something you would like, you can find out more information here:

Written for The Ark (London)

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