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Steve talks about spiritual ideas with Print E-mail
Monday, 01 June 2009

An unusual interview with Steve, focusing on his spiritual side. From, originally published at

"Art and music can have similar processes of creation." Star Dust: The PlanetShifter interview with Steve Kilbey, painter, father and songleader of The Church by Willi Paul.

Ideas to the world and the existence of the dead vary from tribe to tribe but present nothing specially distinctive. The world is usually regarded as surrounded by water, sometimes as floating upon it. It is often secured by four or five pillars, ropes, or other supports. Beyond where earth and sky meet there is often another land. The dead sometimes go below, sometimes above, sometimes across the ocean to the west, and sometimes to more or less distant parts of this earth. The entrance to the world of the dead is pointed out by some tribes. People who have temporarily died have been there and returned to describe it. Dances constitute the principal occupation of the dead. No ideas of future rewards and punishments based on conduct in this life have yet been found. If such ideas exist they must be very scantily developed. As in other parts of the world, there are occasional ideas of transmigration of souls into animals, but these conceptions are nowhere systematically worked out or of a religious importance.

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Your latest release: “Untitled #23” is best described to me as painting with sound. Your reaction to this?

i like that description
i like to make music at the point music and art meet up
i like our music to suggest pictures and stories
art and music can have similar processes of creation
you start with a little thing
and you build upon it
you tinker with it
a songwriter is a painter in words
he suggests far more than he ever shows

When the band collaborates with high spirit and merges into One force, where are you physically?

i am in an anaesthetized place where there is no gravity
my fingers become free and do what they will
music becomes effortless
we are swept up by some powerful wave
the feeling is completely addictive
and total release is rarely achieved

“Metaphors are Steve Kilbey” – both sonic and via lyrics! Which ones have landed and enlightened you and your audiences to a higher consciousness recently?

yoga makes the man
theres a metaphor for your audience
on our last tour of america
i did yoga 2 sometimes 3 times a day
people could feel my energy from it
i ran around on stage for 2 n half hours and gave it everything
and yoga made it possible for me to deliver that
as for my lyrical metaphors....oh i can’t think of any right now...!

Do you write music – or paint - based on your dream experiences?

no not usually
but i try to recapture the feeling of a dream in almost everything i do
my own dreams are very blurry
i try to get a certain blurriness into everything i do

What is your favorite instrument? How do you select electric or acoustic instruments for your compositions?

my favourite instrument is the piano
my compositions usually have a combination of electric n acoustic instruments
one just gets a feel of where one wants what
its an on the spot calculation rather than a general philosophy

Hero. Who are yours? Are you a hero?

my artistic musical n literary heros were
marc bolan david bowie salvador dali beatles stones dylan rimbaud
mervyn peake cs lewis jrr tolkien gustav klimpt neil young

i am probably someones musical hero yes
to myself i'm just an old craftsman whos been doing it a while

What are the sounds from pre-history? Do you sample Nature? The City?

oh the sounds from prehistory are pterodactyls screaming off in the warm evening distance
the buzz of the jungle and the wind blowing across the steppes
the monkeys chattering and the glaciers slow grind
i have used samples of both nature and city in my songs

Is sustainability a form of religion?

no i dont see how it can be a religion as such
i mean we must cultivate sustainability religiously
but it is not a religion in itself

What effects does commercial music and television have on our well-being?

well not all commercial n television music is bad...tho most probably is
therefore it would enervate the unhappy soul being bombarded with musical dross
like looking at bad worthless art all day...youd go kinda numb

Robyn Hitchcock told me that music is a form of alchemy – perhaps an invisible attempt to alter people’s moods. Your reactions? See: Hitchcock Interview -

yes it is alchemy
you take all this improbable stuff...the wires n skins n strings n sticks etc
and with correct manipulation by inspired players
wonderful feelings can be taking drugs but no side effects
no one is really sure how its done
no one can explain the players or the listeners nor the musicologists
in truth music is an impenetrable mystery
oh can learn HOW it works...but never why....

What are some of the creative or spiritual initiations that you have went thru? Still working on?

mainly time is what i went thru
i was not a quick learner
things took a long time to sink in
against this i balance my curious naivete
life n drugs n love taught me the blues
but they also taught me to transcend
i read the bible
i read the gita
i read the pali sutras of buddha
i read fucking playboy
i learnt to rocknroll somewhere in the last 45 years of playing
it seems so easy but its hard to do things easy
mainly i just persevered and i reaped times reward

Many are talking about a major collapse in the world economy and a catastrophic period of anger and hunger. Do you see this near-term scenario? In not, what is your perception of the next 2-5 years on the planet?

im just an artist
i have no real valid thoughts on this subject
as a parent of five children i hope this world endures
tho humanity is a can of worms
the earth would be much better off without us
who can deny that?

As a painter or musician, are you a Shaman? Are you painting about a new world?

i wish i was a shaman
i perform pseudo-shamanistic artistic feats sometimes
but in truth i am a shrewd and intelligent manipulator of ideas n techniques
unless i have completely fooled myself
sometimes i get confused where its all coming from
i would hate to have delusions of grandeur
yes and no about the new world
my worlds are alternate worlds
neither newer or older
much like ours but stranger and more improbably probable
i'm trying to represent these other places/other things
i dont really know
its just what i have been "told" to do

Define myth per The Church, please. What myths are critical to your spirit these days?

the name the church itself is all about myth
i cant tell where myth ends and history begins
i interpret everything on every level possible
and i see all myths have truth and fiction
and all history has truth and fiction
and all my songs/paintings/words have truth and fiction
the band has become legendary tho not yet quite mythical
we are still men not myths
can you be a living myth?
do you want to be a living myth?
i still think about paris a lot
paris prince of troy i mean...and the greek myths in general
boy what a bunch of fucking characters!

How do you think women’s reverence for the sacred differs from men’s?

i believe women are more an even keel
most of them have a reverence for the sacred
whereas men tend to have higher peaks n lower troughs
for example if you went up to random women and said "jesus" (for example)
i think most would smile and say yes or no
whereas with men youd get an extreme atheist rant or
a christian diatribe....

Please give me your top three contemporary painters.
vincent van go go
sali dali
gustav klimpt

Do you have specific ways that you instill a love of creativity in your children? What art do they do with you?

my kids are drawing n painting n singing all the time
art has no boundaries in this household
everybodys creating something all the time
the kids just go for it
and i offer my honest critiques of their stuff

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