The Kundalini Genie interview
Spaced out drones, druggy melodies, a hammering rhythmic section and an eccentric, high octane frontman leading the charge.
What do you consider to be your first real exposure to music?
Robbie Wilson: My first real exposure to music was my dad. He’d always be playing classic rock around the house. I’d wake up on Sunday mornings to good music and that started me on that path. I was one of those people who thought all the good music was from the past until I discovered the Neo-Psychedelic music scene that was happening.
Who’s in The Kundalini Genie and what do you all play? Have you all made any changes to the lineup since you started or is this the original lineup?
Well there’s me, I do all or most of the recording and writing, I also manage the band currently too.
We have had a few different line-ups since the conception, however nothing worked and around the time of me recording the second album I changed every member out and now things are starting to come together.
On bass we have Jack Getty, however he can play a few instruments as well and writes great tunes. To be honest structurally and musically he can write better than I can. Without him I probably wouldn’t be making music and he showed me The Brian Jonestown Massacre which changed my life. I’m now also the drummer in his new band, which will happen soon hopefully. You can expect to see some of his songs on the third album. I reluctantly admit that they’re the best ones on it.
On rhythm we have our man Davey Jones. Although again he can play a few things. He’s a more competent guitar player than I am really but he’s quite content to be the cool, collected rhythmic man at the side, always chewing chewing gum, wearing shades and could smooth talk the pants off you. Coolest guy on the planet. Everything he writes is always straight up 60’s garage rock‘n’roll.
At the head of our spacey noises department we have Gordon Mason. Big Gordo, what a fuckin boy he is. Sweetest guy you’ll ever meet. Soft spoken and gentle and a little shy seeming, he’s the most technically proficient guitar player I’ve ever met. One time he showed Jack and I a bunch of these mad chords and Jack was joking that he’s a jazz guitarist now after learning them. He’s the only person I’ve met that makes everything sound massive without taking it too far. Like he’s got this mad pedal board but he actually knows how to use them all tastefully and doesn’t take the piss. Which I’ve never tended to find in people who use that many pedals.
On drums we have Ruth Switalski. She’s the most recent addition but has completed the line up currently. I work in a studio in Glasgow and I heard her other band practicing and I liked her drumming. It was simple, tight and heavy, but again not like breaking sticks and shredding heavy. Her band finished practice and I asked her bold as brass to join my band in front of them all. I don’t think they were very happy about it but it’s all good now. Ruth is our badass artist punk. Professional artist and does all this mad shit. She’s into mad kinky shit too. I think what most people would consider kinky she’d think was mild.
When did you decide that you wanted to start writing and performing your own music?
When I was about 16/17, Jack wrote this tune called “I Get By”, at this point all I had really done was fuck about with E, G and A and some lead guitar (there’s an argument to be made that I never really broke through that stage), anyway, I played the lead guitar and it was a beautiful, innocent tune and we used to walk about with our guitars and we got asked to play and we played that and the people liked it. The next day we got asked to play a gig in our local college supporting this solo artist guy whose tunes all sounded the same. We just played that song. That was when I realised I wanted to do this.
What does the name “The Kundalini Genie” refer to in the context of the band name?
Fuck knows what it references. So many people have asked me what it means. I was trying to come up with band names and it came to me and I just really liked it.
What’s the songwriting process like?
So far it’s really just been me writing and recording songs. I wrote everything on the first album except “Deja Vu Vu” which was written by my partner Julia, and half of “Deciphered”. For the second album I wrote everything except the lead guitar to “Spaced In and Bleedin’ Gums Mushroom”, which again Julia wrote. For the third album Jack and Davey have had quite a bit of input.
Can you share some further details how your latest album You Are The Resurrection was recorded and released?
I basically ended up really not liking Reverberation. It came about due to a multitude of reasons, I won’t get into them. But the band at the time basically wasn’t working and I recorded all the second album myself in my house, and then I met Jason Shaw, who without him I probably wouldn’t have finished it because he helped me a lot, and we went to a studio and re recorded the drums and vocals in a studio. Jason took the files away, mixed them, sent to Joe for mastering and then I self funded the vinyl and here we are!
Is there a certain concept behind it?
The concept behind the name is quite simple to explain. Basically my understanding of ego is that it’s your lens through which you experience the material and sensory world. Having said that, I, like everyone else, have it within me to be extremely egotistical. A trait you need to be in touch with to be able to create good art. That said, like anything, it’s a tool to be used and put away when you’re finished with it, (I believe), and so it can be dangerous. If you let yourself get carried away it can cause all sorts of problems, you need to be able to take it off like a jacket at the end of the day or you’ll spend your life in a constant struggle to satiate it, which of course, by it’s very nature it never can be. So anyway, a few people very close to me have gone off the rails a bit with ego, and I don’t mean egotism, I have a bigger ego than they do in its height, but they can’t really ‘take it off’ at the end of the day. Someone very close to me told me “You walk around like you’re the second coming”. To which my response was something along the lines of “I’m not the second coming of anyone, I’m the first coming of me.” Which for some reason to them seemed worse, as if I was comparing myself on the level of the biblical Jesus Christ. (The whole thing is stupid, I know). So that got me thinking about that, and I thought to myself that it was a good metaphor for the way the world is just now. Everyone is waiting for a savior, a metaphorical second coming. So many people I know, completely unhappy, have absolutely no idea what to do or how to un-fuck themselves. Trapped in the constant cycle of consumption to satiate what’s missing in their soul, drugs, food, sex, etc, mostly drugs. It’s so bad that I know people who openly try to make it look like they are more trapped in that cycle than they are to look like they suffer more, making it look like they’re always outta their mind because it makes them look like they’re deeply suffering, which they think makes them look cool. I’m not explaining it very well, but I feel like folk will get the gist of what I mean. So to bring it all back home from my convoluted rambling, you can stay stuck in that cycle and continue to complain about why you’re so unhappy, waiting for someone to un-fuck you. Waiting for something about the fucked up, consumption based capitalist death machine society to change that will alleviate the pressure you feel, that we all feel. You can wait for someone else to stop fucking the planet, or you can take some personal responsibility, and realise that you are the resurrection. You’re the only person with the power to save your soul, to save the soul of all mankind. It’s not like you’ve gotta fucking go out and change the world, that’s stupid, change yourself. Do what you can, if you even make one small change to improve your life, the lives of those around you and the planet, then you’re doing it. The only issue is consistency, you have to consistently be able to ‘take off your ego’ and try to act from a position of empathy consistently, it’s not enough to do a few good things. You have to make it part of you. When you do that, things happen, there’s a force like gravity in the universe, maybe it’s karma, that notices that and suddenly doors are open that were once shut, a path starts to reveal itself and you know it’s what you have to do. It doesn’t have to be massive, just something. It has to be you. No one else can. Having said all of that, I think I’m kind of preaching to the choir with the Psychedelic Baby mag audience. Psychedelic by the very definition of the word (Psyche: ‘the human body, mind or spirit’. Delos: ‘the bring forth, to manifest’) means the human spirit manifest, and so the type of people who are attracted to it are often people who are aware of this, and the infinite variations of it in their own personal lives and viewpoints. I feel many people will read that and perhaps have their own differing viewpoint of it, but largely I think the song remains the same, so to speak.
What kind of process do you have at mastering material for the release?
After Jason is finished mixing the music, it’s off to Joe Carra at Crystal Mastering to give it that magic. He done a fantastic job too. He’s who masters King Gizzard, so you know he’s good.
What about your first album Reverberation? How would you compare it to The Resurrection?
I don’t really like Reverberation. I spent a lot of money to make it in a studio environment only to realise after it was finished that it wasn’t what I wanted. Time limits were the biggest factor, and I couldn’t really take the time to re-do the odd track here and there, to get things mixed the way I wanted, etc etc. I also recorded the guitars clean so FX could be added afterwards because I was told that was the way to do it. Too many other people were involved in it. Too many chefs in the kitchen. With Resurrection, it’s me playing every track, every vocal, I basically recorded it all in my house, the way I wanted. Then I met Jason, he got it, knew what was needed and we went into a studio just to re-do the drums and vocals, and then we were done. I much prefer it, although now I have my own studio, and I have great amps, great mics, my drumkit sounds really good, and I have no time constraints and can do everything slowly and surely. The level of quality of the recordings I’m coming out with now also make Resurrection seem not as good. But I guess that’s a good thing, improving over time. I like that, I want to look back in 10 years and compare a track from Reverberation to whatever I’m doing then.
Who is behind the artwork for The Resurrection?
Javier Foppiano (Xequio), he’s the ex-drummer for Los Acidos (interview here). He’s a cool dude, makes great art. Moss Moth (Moss Moth Creations) designed the artwork for the first album.
Who are some of your personal favorite bands that you’ve had a chance to play with over the past few years?
The Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Stevenson Ranch Davidians, Frankie Teardrop Dead, Acid Mothers Temple, The Limiñanas, Spindrift, Triptides, The Valkarys (who I’m currently the drummer for), Ghost Dance Collective, to name a few.
What are some future plans?
More recording, I’m working on a third album just now. I keep scrapping songs and re starting, but it feels great doing that, because it keeps getting better. I hope to have it out by summer next year but who knows. I’d like to try getting some more good gigs, continue to work away at it, keep opening doors etc until shit starts happening more. I’m also recording some other peoples music to help them get stuff out there too.
Let’s end this interview with some of your favourite albums. Have you found something new lately you would like to recommend to our readers?
Los Acidos – Los Acidos, anything by Black Market Karma, anything by The Brian Jonestown Massacre, in fact, literally any album on Captain Beefart’s YouTube channel. Paul has never uploaded a bad album.
Thank you. The last word is yours.
No, thank you. For the work you do making a platform for those that otherwise might not, and helping to spread the good word to those who might otherwise not hear it. Thank you for taking the time to ask me these questions. Thank you for premiering my second album on your magazine.
– Klemen Breznikar