home | table of contents |feature | record reviews | live shows | news | events |archive | record label | links | contact


"Why D'ya Do It"
Khan/Kid and Khan/Kid, Khan, and Julee Cruise/Julee Cruise
(2001 - Present)

Khan, Julee Cruise, and Kid.

I was curating some gigs at this club Tonic in New York and they had a different person every month do a different day of the week. And I had the month of Sundays and it was near Christmas and I really could not get anyone to play somewhere near Christmas. Everyone was going to be out of town. I just couldn’t find anyone to book. But I had good people: I booked Mark Eitzel. I booked Michael Gira. I booked Thalia Zedek from Come – one of her first solo things.

There was an opening so I was like, “Oh my god, maybe I should just have a band.” So I got Jack and Barry to play and Siobhan Duffy from the Gunga Din, and Jerome O’Brien. And we made a band. Actually it was made out of the songs on that Solo Cholo LP. That was kind of a tape that I started compiling. So I had all these songs and I thought, “We could just play these songs and be a cover band.” And it was really really good and really fun. So we started playing some gigs and it was the start of Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds.


Right at this time came electronic music guy Khan. He saw us there and thought that I’d be a good person –see he was doing an album on Matador records, the No Comprendo album, and having guest singers, much like Die Haut, on his record, and called me out of the blue and asked me to be on his record.

So he came to my work and brought me this big stack of stuff he’d done – this big stack of vinyl. And I took it home and play it and thought he was really great. All the records were completely different from each other. They were all electronic records but they were really funny and some were really great experimental records – and they were funny, and sexy and I saw a complete artist – a really crazy crazy guy that was really appealing. And I had really thought that I’d wanted to do something with an electronic musician. For a long time I’d been thinking that – but just the right idea – I didn’t know how to do it myself and I didn’t have the right person – and I thought, “OK, this could be a fun thing to do.” And when we recorded that stuff we had so much fun and it was so fun and different and funny that we decided to keep recording and that was the start of our Kid and Khan collaboration.

Kid and Khan

Really the start of it was that he had to tour to promote the album and he asked me to go on tour with him because he couldn’t obviously bring five guest singers with him. So we started to make more songs and I started to play on some of his songs. And he had been doing some stuff with Julee Cruise as a side project - so we started doing stuff with her and it just turned into a whole project that was really fun.

And we started having an affair. He went to go live in Mexico for the wintertime. So I went with him to Mexico and we actually recorded the bulk of the Bad English album there – on the Roland VS-16-80 – which I have in my bedroom right now. We went on tour around the world a few times, did shows, and kept recording the whole way. Eventually our affair was far too intense, that we split up that but we kept working together because I felt that that was where our relationship really was – was as friends and as working partners. So that continues on to this day.

Kid and Khan did a lot of touring and a lot of different things. That was the thing with Khan, it was just the two of us so it was a much more mobile thing and it was also going into another world, the electronic music world – which he is a big part of and that’s who he is.

We preceded the electro-clash trend – we were doing that before that happened – years before. We were mixing the rock music and the electronics and doing some crazy shit. He’s a great live performer – really crazy. And actually I thought this is the craziest thing I’ve done since The Cramps where I don’t know what to happen and I don’t know what this guy’s gonna do next. He’s gonna be jumping on top of someone, and people are going to be taking their clothes off, and people are going to be attacking us, and crazy crazy stuff, and he’s gonna be hoisting me on top of his shoulders while I’m playing guitar. It was a different experience and it totally changed my mind about electronic music - because rockers always think electronic music is going to be boring and you’re going to be so tied down to a drum machine -but it wasn’t like that at all in the least. It was actually more spontaneous than the Knoxville Girls were and a much wilder and crazier experience. And so that made me really excited and again I found myself somewhere else that I didn’t expect to be just by circumstances – just by saying “yes” to something.

We had to overcome a lot of prejudice from both communities. We had rockabillies coming to our concerts because they heard The Cramps guy was here. We had people yelling “Judas” at us for brining a guitar into an electro club. It was very controversial at the time.

Bad English

We actually had the Bad English record done about three years before it actually came out. Electronic people couldn’t understand it and rock people couldn’t understand it. Finally we found Trans*Solar records who didn’t care about any of that. They just wanted something new and different and put it out. We decided that it should be called Bad English because that was really the one thing that stood in the way of our relationship – was that we would completely misunderstand each other all the time because English was not his first language and German wasn’t my first language and so there was also a lot of misunderstanding going on. We actually still do that but it’s much better now - it doesn’t matter now. But the album is a chronicle of our relationship. So it’s our little Fleetwood Mac sort of Rumours sort of album.

The title and the cover was a tribute to Marian Faithful’s Broken English album because we thought that that was a good end-of-relationship album as well. And we even did a cover version of “Why Did You Do It?” – which is a brilliant song. And our take on it was, “that was a song written by a man about a man talking about a woman talking to a man but then it was sung by a woman talking to a man. So she changed the gender and so we changed the gender back…again. So in that way we had a little gender roll playing.

One of our first concepts was to make an album that, “What if The Cramps were actually making an album now that was modern? What would it be like?” and that was one of our little nucleus ideas about the record.

Washing Machine

And off of that we had remixes done and those were for the dance-floor audience. It was a record that was made for clubs because we didn’t really get with the club people with the album because there were way too many words and way too much tomfoolery and there were slow songs. And so we got some mixes made. And we also had our friend Christian Jendreiko do some mixes. And he’s a quite crazy art/electronic guy. And so he made these really insane mixes and we put that on it as well.

And also the other good concept of Kid and Khan was that I was a Mexican and he was Turkish – maybe that’s why we don’t get along. We found that there was a real common bond between Mexican culture and Turkish culture. We found that in Mexico. And he said he really felt so at home in Mexico when he went there for some crazy unknown reason. And when we went and played in Istanbul, I felt kind of the same way. Like, “Oh, I understand this kind of culture.” I even met his family and his cousins and went to some family gatherings and it was really like a Mexican family gathering in the way they conduct their social life. So we got down with our roots. And also our on our new record, the new record that we’re doing, we’re using a lot of Turkish influence and maybe some Mexican language.

Julee Cruise

Through Khan I met Julee Cruise because he was already playing with her. So I was there so I kind of globbed onto that and became really good friends with her. It’s funny because in Congo Norvell so many people would compare that to Julee Cruise all the time. Although I see her and Sally Norvell as being completely different, I can see what it is because we had very moody sort of mood pieces. And that’s what Julee’s stuff, especially her David Lynch stuff, is like. And she’s a complete professional – amazing singer – really really great. She’s spot-on every night. And she’s real and she’s really a lot of fun. Everyone thinks of her as this ethereal, angelic thing, but boy, she’s got a mouth like a truck driver. And she can be a hard lady. And I mean that in a good sense. She’s a tough, tough lady - and super-talented.

I actually even performed with her live without Khan. She put a band together because she made a solo album after all the Khan stuff. I didn’t play on the record but I played live. In Kid and Khan and Julee Cruise we do a couple of the David Lynch songs but more electronic with beats. But with that band, it was actually a band playing and we did a lot more of those songs. And it was really great to play those songs – especially “Falling” and “Rockin' Back Inside My Heart” and weird hypnotic songs. A friend of mine was like, “It’s like having a good acting role.” And it’s really kind of weird to play songs from Twins Peaks and stuff. Strangely it was a fun role. Because I thought, “That albums so nothing – nothing going on.” But you listen to it and you have to learn the songs. They’re really bizarre arrangements. They’re really hypnotic but they actually change in really weird subtle ways. And it’s actually incredibly smart music. And Angelo Badalamenti made it. So it’s not that simple.



© New York Night Train , 2005