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Roy Is Featured In 'The Word' Magazine...
Part Of A Feature On Cult Heroes - August 2009
I haven't seen the published version. It may have been edited. This version has not been edited.
1. Why do you think you inspire such devotion?
I don't think that I properly realize that I have anyone devoted to me. There's something called Roy Harper, and then there's me, a person who seems to trundle along in a parallel universe to that narrative. In the times when I realize that the narrative may have devotees, it's tempered with a thought that there are a lot of people out there who may be in some way antipathetic. In other words, I think that Roy Harper divides opinion a lot. He's not really someone you can really treat as wallpaper. There's some very high class incidental music out there. Pink Floyd, and Coldplay immediately spring to mind. Moby and even Eminem on a lesser level. Stuff with a capability to be used as soothing or familiar background sound. Complimentary audio to a particular lifestyle, or to being played in the workplace at reasonably low volume. Things that might seem to suggest, but don't finally say very much other than they are very well produced high class music art. Often image is the key component. You could describe this as a way of writing in which any lyrical content is purely subject to the music or the image, and is actually ancillary, and often even incidental. The reason why this kind of music art is always going to be fashionable is that it doesn't disturb people, and it usually compliments the status quo. Which is great, I don't have anything against that, but it's not where I'm coming from, that is, me, the founder of Roy Harper. I'm coming from the same kind of place Woody Guthrie, Phil Ochs, Richard Fariña and Big Bill Broonzy came from, where a song can be a contentious point of view, often a bold a statement, or a strong opinion based on available empirical fact. Any and all of which can be loaded with emotion. Some people really get it, lots don't, people who can't be bothered to decipher meaning in lyrics think of me as purely esoteric, and there are billions who know nothing of me at all. One thing is for sure, I don't think I leave many who do.. sat on the fence. And Roy of course, well he's likely to carry on for quite a while after I've left. He's nothing I can actually stop now.. he's become a slight disturbance out there in cyberspace.
2. What do your following want from you?
I don't think I know. And I don't think that I'd like to presume either. Many of them probably want me to be who I am. There are probably some who don't want me involved in Roy Harper, and I know how they feel. Of course, there are a few who want me to be more involved in Roy Harper.
3. If you had a mission, what would it be?
To hold a mirror up to the face of humanity.
4. What's been your greatest artistic achievement so far?
It may very well be that I've almost single handedly wrestled with the design of my garden, on a very difficult piece of land, for over a decade now. It's been like working a five acre canvas that can only very slowly be brought into shape after years of sculpting, with one pair of hands, although latterly with some physical help. I'd be in line for a couple of replacement vertebrae, if anyone's got any spare ones hanging around.
5. Have you ever taken a wrong turn?
Automatically, (and absolutely) I would say 'Yes', but that's all a matter of perception isn't it? Spontaneity often brings fortunate wrong turns. Sometimes I think that the whole of Jazz is built on an endless stream of fortunate wrong turns, often intentional. I've made a lot of fortunate wrong turns. The most unfortunate wrong turn I ever made was to allow my first marriage to drift.
6. What keeps you going?
To be honest, sex and drugs and fish and chips. There's not as much rock 'n roll these days, but there's other stuff... experience, knowledge, different vistas, momentum, recalcitrance, defiance and will. To name a few. Not a lot's changed to be honest.
7. Who else should we be listening to - and why?
Yourself, your inner self, because you might eventually hear things that are more pertinent to your precious moment here than anything politics, religion, dogma, doctrine or any other prescribed way of life could ever present you with. For instance, hearing myself clearly enough has always helped me to avoid confusing herd morals with natural ethics.
8. What's your next project and why do you think we'll like it?
My next project has been in bits, all over the place, for years, sometimes due to distraction, often to my own meditative habit and sometimes because hard work is needed in another area of life. If I'm being honest there's some disillusionment at times as well, but I do my best to stick that in the 'triumph and disaster' file for as long as I can. I will eventually pull it all together, and it will make sense. It'll become another part of the ongoing vision. Whether people will like it or not is another thing entirely, and probably wont be understood for decades, but obviously I won't release it until I do.
Roy Harper July 14th, 2009