COLD LIPS: Curious about the line between Kieran Leonard on stage and the author … Talk to us about pseudonyms and alter-egos:
KL: With the first record [as Saint Leonard’s Horses], I thought identity needed to be about beauty and truth. But that is counter-intuitive, and admirable artists, whether Bob Dylan or whoever, they are constructs of a kind, and the idea of being a fraud to myself was clawing, particularly living in Hollywood, and this is the sort of thing that Kieran Leonard would do. And I needed an epiphany of deconstructing myself to work out who Kieran Leonard, the earnest character, was. Writing provided that.
Kieran Leonard is the strange identity I’ve created, and that character has become a guise, and, through the writing, the tortured whisky-drinking songwriter has become arbitrary. The current culture is totally phoney of singer-songwriters, but what I like about writing sentences is you can’t fake them.
There’s an idea in Crowleian magic that you sacrifice yourself or another, allegorically.
Although Crowley was mental and a great poster boy for magick, he’s not my favourite – and maybe got the wrong end of the wand … I love the golden dawn and Jorodowsky, Yeats, and you think of Bram Stoker, Oscar Wilde, they’re all into the higher order –
It’s the ego we hang onto, so if I created an arbitrary name for it – I could destroy it, then I actualised it, and everything changed; it was proof of magick, it was like a spell – I thought I should have done this a year ago … it’s been very liberating. I’d stopped enjoying the character by making it real, by becoming it – and it became preventative to who I was, restrictive, so when I had a new guise I could explore new avenues, new ways of thinking, and nothing was forbidden. When we develop as humans, we can also limit ourselves, that leap of faith, and that thing of developing themselves is an act of surrendering one’s identity, without sounding too lofty. There’s a moment of Picasso reverting to primitivism, the art has to come to the surface, and in Marlon Brando’s book, Songs My Mother Taught Me – all he had to do was hit the mark, but do that, he said lose your personality, and I had to drop my ego and identity and say it – I just go on stage and express – and leave it there.
COLD LIPS: How far have you experienced the power of prophecy in writing?
KL: I think anyone who writes says there’s that low and fucking behold moment when the exact circumstances occur. Candid experiences are how I even ended up writing the book, but it was my tour manager who realised everything that was fantasy started to happen, and when you’re in it, it can be unsettling. Fanciful episodes almost happened as written. The third song I wrote from this album, I was on a friend’s porch at 3am and had this thing about Kubrick, and later, Kubrick’s grandson was there and allowed me to record in their old house. The exercise of focusing attention and magic is much the same, so it’s caught me to careful.
‘A Muse‘ is an article published exclusively in Cold Lips II. To read more stories from the issue, you can purchase a full copy in select shops or in our online store.