Kool Keith Interview
interview 0520 added 19.07.07 words:
“Abstract musical genius”. Are three words
often bandied about by pseudo editorialists
with little justification? Passing Electro/Indie fusions, 16-year-old
Grime producers and whoever else the Guardian music supplement is
currently giving head to, and invariably those three words get dragged
out. But yep, you guessed it, I’m going to do it: Kool Keith is an
abstract musical genius.
I’ve spent the last few months traveling and despite warnings of this my
inbox was still full to the brim with requests for interviews, reviews,
etc. But, when I saw an email from Fabric with the subject title ‘Kool
Keith’ I must admit, I was intrigued.
Would I like to interview Kool Keith? A.k.a Dr Dooom, a.k.a Black Elvis,
a.k.a Dr fuckin’ Octagon! An overwhelming ‘yes’ was my response.
If the truth were told very few rappers have remained as relevant over a
twenty year period as Kool Keith- from founding member of new school
pioneers Ultramagnetic MC’s, to the originator of Horrorcore via Dr
Octagon and Dr Doom or as the straight up dope MC with the bizarre
stream-of-conscious lyrical flow that became the signature sound of Kool
Keith. The man known to fewer as Keith Thornton has of course had many
more guises and achievements than those noted.
Interviews via email are far from ideal. As any good salesperson will
tell you, tone of voice and body language are often more important than
the subject matter itself when it comes to gaining rapport. But I was
never much of a salesman. So this is doubly more difficult when it comes
to communicating via keyboard and the anonymity of cyber space, which
may explain why we didn’t get of to the best of starts…
“...Dr Dooom, he's coming back to finish the job on Octagon...”
successes you are still considered for the most part to be an
underground rapper/producer, does that frustrate you at all?
Kool Keith: You really cannot label me underground. I have platinum and
gold plaques hanging on my walls, I've been on the cover of major
magazines, my videos are on MTV, I tour with the biggest rock groups
like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, I'm on the prodigy albums that sold
millions. I am in Sprite commercials, ipod commercials. My music is in
big Hollywood movies and TV shows, and I've sold over a million albums,
so I'm very happy with my own success and there will be more to come.
Do you think rap
lacks originality at the moment?
Kool Keith: In general rap has been stagnant for the last 20 years.
You've often been
associated with, or even arguably responsible for, the Horrorcore and
Acid Rap genres. How do you think they're doing now? Are there any
artists from those scenes that you follow?
Kool Keith: I invented Horrorcore. I don't listen to those groups who
try to sound like me very much, it bores me.
The paranormal and
sci-fi influences is a strong theme throughout your work, why do you
think it is that some people, or musicians, are better at connecting
with their sub-conscious/imagination than others?
Kool Keith: I don’t put limits on my self or my creative flow. I write
what I feel. One day I might write about eggs, one day I write about
bitches, the next I might write about chopping up bodies in the
basement. I'm a creative writer in my music and lyrical genius.
“...You really cannot label me underground...”
You are also known
for an interest in conspiracy theories, one of the biggest floating
around at the moment is that 9/11 was engineered by the American
Government, i.e. 'an inside job', what's your take on that?
Kool Keith: It could be true, you never know. I believe aliens exist. I
seen one in the projects one time wearing a gold chain and smoking a
One of my favorite
Dr Octagon songs is 'Blue Flowers'. Is it a reference to the killer
drug, substance D, from Phillip K Dick’s sci-fi classic 'Scanner
Kool Keith: No it's really a song about a blue flower I found one day by
a purple pond.
Do you think that
drugs are a help or hindrance to the creative process?
Kool Keith: A lot of musicians take drugs. A lot of them died or killed
they selves though. I think it can sometimes help open your mind to new
ideas or sounds. I used to smoke dust back in the day, that's some ill
collaborated with The Prodigy in the past as well having released
material on Mo Wax and have also been booked for a lot of shows in
England as of recent...Do you like it over here, follow English music at
Kool Keith: I love the UK, my fans there are great. Tim Westwood was the
first DJ in Europe to support my stuff back with Ultra, we (Ultramagnetic
MC's) used to be greeted at the airport by the fans. You know sorta’
like The Beatles.
If so are there any
English artists you would be interested in collaborating with?
Kool Keith: The Gorilla's could give me a call. I'd like bring back the
Cookie Crew on one of my new tracks.
“...Tim Westwood was the first DJ in Europe to support my stuff...”
Can you tell us a
bit about Tashan Dorrsett?
Kool Keith: That's a project I did with Junkaz in France. It's a fly
project, there's some different stuff on that album, I like it.
You appeared in
Prince Paul’s 1999 'Hip-Hopera', 'A Prince Amongst Thieves', would you
like to do more acting work?
Kool Keith: Yeah I like acting sometimes, I might make a reality TV show
with Kurt sometime.
What are your plans
for the future?
Kool Keith: I keep recording all the time. I don't need a budget just to
go to the studio like a lot of these groups. I pay for my own sessions,
and my own video's too. Look out for Dr Dooom, he's coming back to
finish the job on Octagon. Also my solo album king service, and ‘The
Conference Room’ project with Denis and Tytus Pen. Go look up all my
myspace pages. And for the ladies only come email me, I don't reply to
I read somewhere
that you are a big fan of Paris Hilton, would you consider a
Kool Keith: I'd like to do a photo shoot with her. I got some nice
outfits for her to try on...I'm a photographer, I got 1000's of pictures
in my private collection.
Well, what did you expect from someone who has skit called ‘a turtle
in your uterus’! A big thanks to Clare from Fabric for arranging the
interview. Kool Keith will be performing live at Fabric nightclub on
Friday 20th July.