The Legendary Pink Dots Want R2-D2

Legendary Pink Dots vocalist, keyboardist, and songwriter Edward Ka-Spel talks about his love of sci-fi and fantasy themes the their music and why a certain astromech droid would be welcome to join the band when he’s done hanging out with C-3PO. As a fan of sci-fi films and the Star Trek TV series, what was your initial reaction when you first saw Star Wars?

Edward: Strangely it took me many years to see even the first Star Wars movie, but my oldest son Calyxx insisted that I was missing something that could potentially change my life — he was just six at the time. As a result, we rented the initial trilogy of films out from the video store. Shame on me! My passion for “Star Trek: The Next Generation” had blinded me to a new exquisite adventure. I confess I thought nobody could compete with Jean-Luc Picard.

Of course, Alec Guinness swung it for me right from the start. I guess he must have been so old when he appeared in Star Wars, but seeing him in his finery, uttering those wise words gave me my most blessed Star Wars experience. Which of the Star Wars films is your favorite?

Edward: Definitely A New Hope. It’s just an old-fashioned adventure in space. Even so, what I really like is that it isn’t so utterly black and white. Darth Vader is a complex, intriguing character — that pulls you in and makes you want to go on the whole voyage. What’s your take on the prequels and Anakin’s back story?

Edward: Anakin’s struggle with the dark side moved me the most. I believe that the dark side resides in all of us, though in most of us, good will prevail. I did find the scene in Revenge of the Sith where Anakin strikes down the younglings to be particularly shocking. Why do you think the Star Wars films are so popular with generations of fans?

Edward: I guess it’s down to the morality tale. We need our heroes. We need characters who give us hope, take us away from what would seem to be an ever darkening planet. As a musician who likes to experiment and utilize unusual sounds to evoke feelings from your audience, what did you think of composer John Williams’ score of the films?

Edward: Music is an expression of emotion. John Williams captures intense emotions extremely well. The score for a film is so important because sometimes, in scenes without dialogue, music must convey everything that is happening on the screen and inject each character’s emotions into the audience. Now that all the films are available on DVD, do you find yourself watching, rewinding and watching again certain scenes?

Edward: I never return to individual scenes from a movie. It feels like just playing one or two songs from a favorite album. I always choose the greater experience and plunge in all the way. So my thumb never strays to the rewind button. Have you ever dressed up as a Star Wars character for a costume party or for your son who’s a big fan?

Edward: I admit the celebration of Halloween only began in England perhaps 10 years ago. If it had been there, I’m sure I would have tried to hide in the corner as an inauspicious R2-D2. For sure as a kid I would have been using the Force on the mirror in the bathroom. Since you wouldn’t mind using the Force, which character would you say you identify with the most in the entire Star Wars saga?

Edward: Probably Obi-Wan Kenobi. The secrets he can reveal, the wisdom of the character, also the complexity. He is so very multi-dimensional. Which character would feel right at home playing in the Legendary Pink Dots?

Edward: R2-D2 would be just fine in the Legendary Pink Dots. He has plenty of sonic possibilities and there would be no power struggles or ego issues. He’d be fantastic for the image too, though I would insist that he wear a red scarf. That being said, who in your band would best blend in well with the Star Wars galaxy?

Edward: It has to be the Silver Man, especially when his machines take over and start rolling and bleeping around the room. Actually, the old analog synthesizers probably are machines that blend in the best — so utterly alien and unpredictable. Do you ever play any of the Star Wars video games?

Edward: I confess that I’ve played computer games very rarely. Maybe it’s a fear of ending up like the character in “Dying for the Emperor.” Normally, I observe as my kids are quite obsessed with space games. Of course, they are now far, far more advanced than the beloved old Space Invaders. Do you ever go to sci-fi fan conventions or Comic-Con? What was the experience like for you as a fan of the genre?

Edward: Many years ago in London I visited sci-fi conventions. They were important for me as I met like-minded people and made friends that I could talk away the nights with. These days, time just doesn’t permit as Legendary Pink Dots takes up so much of my time. No complaints — I chose this path. Why do you think sci-fi and fantasy films like Star Wars are so important — especially as a creative muse?

Edward: They remind us of how small we are and how great and beautiful the universe is. They perpetuate the dream, they make the colors brighter, they allow us to laugh and cry in public. God knows we need that. Your song “The Saucers Are Coming” was a great update to the War of the Worlds story! What kinds of sci-fi/fantasy themes do you like to explore in your music? And how have Star Wars and other sci-fi and fantasy films influenced your music?

Edward: I have my favorite authors — Harlan Ellison, Robert Sheckley, Robert Silverberg. I cannot believe that this beautiful little pebble named Earth is the only spot in the universe where life exists. There simply has to be more than that and I will not rest until I’ve contacted a few of those “others.” Why will Star Wars always be cool to you?

Edward: Star Wars made my peculiar universe a richer place. I can revisit these films again and again and always see a little more. This is rare in a movie.


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