Usually, when someone claims that they are an ‘abstract interdimensional entity’, you apologize and tell them you don’t have any change to spare. But when Kirin J Callahan claims to be an ‘abstract interdimensional entity,’ it seems like a plausible explanation for the antics of this one of a kind alt-rocker.
We caught up with Kirin in New York for a rowdy interview. We decided to get strait into the good stuff: religion, music, and the history of Australia.
Hey Kirin. Let’s start with an easy one. Do you believe in god?
Uh, phew, yeah?
What is god to you?
A guy with a beard in the sky.
A guy with a beard?! What if you were a girl? Do you think it’d be a girl with a beard?
Still a guy with a beard?
I’m just toying. That’s a big question. I don’t want to jump into some sort of conclusion, it’s not something I think about regularly. It was once upon a time.
Sorry I just threw it out there didn’t I?
No, let’s get into it.
OK if you insist. Do you kind of go through stages in your life where you are more or less spiritual than other times?
Yeah. When you’re miserable and you don’t know you’re miserable, you start looking for some sort of alternative. If you go through a trauma or abuse or just rough times and you’re looking for an escape, some people choose drugs, some people choose god, some people choose even more esoteric spiritual practice. Anyone I’ve ever known that’s really into this stuff would probably disagree with me.
Do you think when you’re performing or just hit a transcendent strain when you’re creating a song, do you think there’s something beyond yourself?
I used to really believe in that. There’s certainly an ecstatic feeling when things are going right-whether you’re writing a song or a film. There are lot’s of things we can’t explain through our kind of knowledge of science.
Any specific unexplained phenomena that you find interesting?
I can be on the other side of the world right now and connect with you in real time on my phone. Our brains are much more powerful than our phones, so when you’re in front of someone performing you can connect with them too. I don’t think there’s anything too extreme about that, it’s just like, connections or wavelengths.
So you’re rational about creativity?
Right now. At other times that you could’ve caught me, I might’ve given you a totally different answer. I don’t believe that it’s magic obviously, it’s just that there’s particles involved.
People wouldn’t see your show and instinctively associate it with the rational or practical…
Oh it’s not practical or rational. It’s irrational, impractical.
Right, that’s what I was getting at-does your music come from something learnt, or does it come from somewhere else?
Does it come from an abstract interdimensional entity?
It does come from an abstract interdimensional entity, and that is me.
Fair enough. Changing gears, what do you look for in music?
I like people who can’t sing. I can’t really sing. I think if someone has a beautiful voice, you say that’s why they can sing. That’s nice to listen to, but people with terrible voices that are getting into singing-you gotta ask why they are doing that. More often than not, it’s probably because they’ve got something to say. Why would you put yourself through that if you didn’t have something to say?
What are you writing about these days?
Same old. Still my ex-girlfriend, but aside from that, world peace is a big one. I did a duet with Alex Cameron, that’s about two cowboys who have to come to the conclusion that this town-this town being Sydney in this instance-may just be big enough for the both of us.
When in your career did you realize that character and persona were important to your act?
Honestly, it was pretty natural. You’re on a stage you gotta put a performance on, can’t stand there staring at your shoelaces.
When did you develop this look?
The look is always changing. Everyday’s different. When I was a teenager, I was dressing up wearing makeup. Even this morning, I was wearing a whole different kind of character that I kind of drew it on for the show-actually that’s not true I drew it on for the flight last night. I had a real mustache and I shaved it off. I like to look good when I fly.
As an Australian artist, can you tell us what you think about your homeland?
This sounds controversial but it’s really not; Australia has a very long and beautiful history of indigenous people, and also a very dark history of atrocities and dominance. However, we have to remember that we’re looking back on that now with a privileged retrospect. We can’t imagine what it’d be like coming to the end of the earth as a European. I think people generally take a black and white view of the issue, and it’s actually very complex and interesting issue that should be discussed nationally.
Alright let’s end on a lighter note; how do you go through metal detectors in an airport?
I got a lot to take off in the metal detector. On a practical level it’s not all fun and games.
Thanks, mate. Take it easy.