September 2003, Belgium
Interviewer: Henk Vereecken for www.darkentries.be
Tell us something about yourself. Who is Louisa John Krol?
If I ever meet her, I will ask.
When I listened to Alabaster several names of artists came through my mind. Can you give your comments on (some of) them? Here they come:
Kate Bush – made eccentricity sexy.
Cocteau Twins – brilliant, we have several of their albums. I love Treasure.
Enya – innovator in vocal multi-tracking with Watermark.
Loreena McKennitt – I have all her albums; favourite song is ‘The Lady of Shalott’.
Blackmore’s Night & Angels Of Venice – both are on my “must have” list.
Fleetwood Mac – ‘Gypsy’, ‘Crystal’, ‘Rhiannon’ and ‘Gold Dust Woman’ are early influences.
Suzanne Vega – I always liked her lyric of the woman who closed herself up like a fan.
Donovan – ‘Mellow Yellow’ – love it.
Alan Stivell – Renaissance of the Celtic Harp called to my sense of ancestry… or past lives?
Sandy Denny – her work with Led Zep on ‘The Battle of Evermore’ inspired me. We’ve some Fairport Convention in our collection.
Björk – an innovator… I particularly love Vespertine.
Garbage – I especially love ‘Milk’ & ‘Stupid Girl’.
When and how did you get interested in composing music yourself? How (and maybe due to which artists) did you change from a passive in an active music lover?
It was in a bath. As a child I was pushing a mermaid doll into a cave of bubbles, swishing a wet cloth around my sister, chanting love is like a fish…gotta make a wish…it made her scream. Guess I thought “Hey, better write more stuff!!”
Which Kate Bush album do you like most? In my opinion, the closest to the things you do on Alabaster are the electronic experiments of The Dreaming. Do you agree with that?
My favourite on The Dreaming is ‘Night of the Swallow’. I love all her albums but have favourites such as ‘Cloudbusting’, ‘Jig of Life’, ‘The Red Shoes’, ‘The Sensual World’, ‘Under the Ivy’, ‘Wuthering Heights’, ‘The Kick Inside’ and others I’ll kick myself (inside) for neglecting to mention.
My favourite song on Alabaster is ‘The Lily and the Rose’. Can you tell us something more?
It’s a melody I set to a 16th century anonymous poem that could describe rape, plague, or love. Interpretation is open, but I suggest The Bailey is a churchman who rings the bell of the dead… or personification of Death. Maidens might be Fates who personify plague; roses are red spots on white skin – lilies – recalled in a game, Ring-a-ring-a-Rosie. I was reading Byatt’s Possession…
Why did you give this album the title of Alabaster and what does this title mean?
Alabaster, a kind of marble, refers to the Alabaster Chambers of Emily Dickinson’s poetry.
Most peculiar lyric on this album is that of ‘Waterwood’. It’s very surrealist and it’s like Syd Barrett on one of his LSD trips. Where does it come from?
‘Waterwood’ was inspired by my niece Lucy. She has beautiful eyes that needed an operation and eye-drops. I thought of Shakespeare’s fairy drops in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and a gift to see the world through magic eyes: like a butterfly riding a bicycle.
Another song that intrigues me is ‘Me and the Machine’. Is there a message behind it?
We were thinking of Gurdjieff’s notion that humans are sleeping machines… To what extent can we call ourselves free, given biological and social systems?…Brett introduced loud speakers – the type used in large stadiums – to convey an Orwellian impression of a society that shouts orders…