An interview with musician, writer, artist, Iftakhar Khan
Iftakhar Khan is also a writer with his online magazine the SpaceZine.
Here is an email interview with Iftakhar Khan.
1. What do you remember first attracted you towards music?
My parents had a big record collection also of artists that weren’t that time famous in Germany. I was born in 1966 and that time my dad and my Mom already been together some time and they listened to Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, the Stones and the Beatles, but my Dad also listened to Ravi Shankar and other Pakistani and Indian artists. I loved songs like Yesterday but also Paint it black. I wanted to learn original drums. But my parents were not amused. In 1976 they got divorced and I came to a boarding school which laid at the Lac Constance very close to Switzerland.
There were some people who already played guitar and other instruments and I first heard the American Band Kiss in my life. Via Kiss I came to Alice Cooper and Led Zeppelin, even though I knew Led Zeppelin before I knew Kiss lol. I only had no clue that Stairway to heaven was by Led Zeppelin lol, I used to hang around often with older schoolmates around. The ones in my age listened to Boney M, Abba, The Bay City Rollers and other stuff like this, it was that time short before the Discomusc wave started. As usual such things started in Germany often with a big delay. For example the Hippie movement was in America already turning into a commercial nightmare in Germany it had started there almost in the beginning of the seventies. After that school-I had left in 1977 I lived some time at my Mother’s place before I had moved in 1978 to my Dad. While living at my mother’s place I also went to a different school with school meals and so on and lessons in the afternoon and such crap.
All my classmates except for two were minimum two years older than me. So I came in touch with Pink Floyd-the newer ones I only knew The dark side of the moon and Meddle before-ELP and so on. But as I always wanted to be different I told everyone that I only like Ludwig Van Beethoven. (one classmate was totally surprised when he found out fifteen years later that I was playing rockmusic lol and more surprised that I told him that all the bands he listened to that time were well-known to me :) )
then I moved to my Dad’s place as I had serious troubles with my Mom who couldn’t understand that I didn’t want to go back to that school as often I was bullied by the others.
In 1978 one day after my twelfth birthday I had found a guitar on a rubbish hill, with two broken mechanics. As I knew my Dad wouldn’t be amused I hid it in the barn of a friend and that tube radios of the sixties became my first amp. I had no clue what to play or how to tune it, we just wanted to produce some noize and for this it was perfect :) also here my friends were older so a lot of them taped Black Sabbath. ELP, King Crimson and other progressive bands for me, I also listened to public radio stations that time. The place where I lived-in the north end of the black forest- you could get two rock radio stations in the radio and so I often also taped complete radio shows. In Mono tho.
At this time I also found out how to tune a guitar and I also found out how to play chords. There was no internet so a lot of friends came around and showed what they could play and so I learned on one side how to play guitar-on the other side I also learned a lot of things about the history of rock as the DJs that time often told stories along with the songs they had played.
I left the house of my Dad and came into some home for kids who were victims of violent parents. There I started to learn how to play the guitar properly, but more Classical and Flamenco and also the first gigs started within friends of course. Until Kozfest 1 in 2011 I had always fear to enter stages.
Schroedinger’s Cat started in Autumn 1988 in Italy, first as Crying Rain we changed the name into Schroedinger’s Cat on November 13th, 1988. In the beginning in Rome, we merged some genres into one so in the beginnings, were two more Jazzers, two more Bluesers with a big touch into Folk, too, and myself, a Folky and classical and Hard Rock-based musician. In the beginning, we had more than fifty gigs in Rome mostly and the nearby smaller cities which weren’t too much abroad. Thru the circumstances I had to return to Germany, and in the beginning of the nineties, I gave up looking for other members (I did quite a few jam sessions with a lot of Germans these days) and I had started to record the first albums on my own. In 1995 I released a movie with Fractals, named Fractum for which I needed two years, after I saw some animated fractals in a new program on VHS-Videotape format. In 1998 I had a concept in my mind and found some guests for the Armageddon Rock series. The only album which is still available of this series, is Acid Flight and I still think it was one of the most psychedelic album of the early years. An Album on which my old friend Dragan Vulevik sang.
2. What artistic projects have you been working on recently?
Well, I had a break between 2019 and 2022 where I haven’t recorded any new stuff except for the stuff I had played in the park which I filmed with a cam on a tripod. Recently if it means for example since the comeback in 2011, it is easy. Or not. Ehm I think I have guested a lot of bands on electric sitar. I have started to learn how to play the sitar also like usual in autodidactic way in 1991. The Bulbul Tarang I have started in 2002 when I first saw one in India on my way back from Japan, where we had played six gigs. I was completely amazed by this instrument. Also by a Tanpura and by the Sitar too. I used to play them more as an effect to the normal music. As Schroedinger’s Cat was always a band where I tried new things.
So I also moved in the end of the nineties for some months to Morocco to learn the basics of the mighty OUD. I think these times were good ones. I love to learn. So since 2011 it started with Kozfest 1 where Aurora dedicated two songs to me on their first set and persuaded me to play with them in their second set on Sitar. I really tried everything not to lol as I said I had fear to enter stages. And I was not very convinced by my ability to play Sitar. Lately it was the right thing, within three months Schroedinger’s Cat was back. On the comeback gig in the southern end of the black forest I met some French friends I haven’t seen for ages and we formed together also a side-project named Alien Intelligence Vosges France, that was based on a joke I did at that party about aliens landed in the black forest and as the vosges are on the opposite side of river rhine I said ok for sure they landed also in France… that band split in 2017 after the last member except of myself , passed away. The lineup was solid but there are less recordings all members of this band also played with Schroedinger’s Cat even mostly the tourings over France and southern europe between 2012 and 2018. Parallel to this I also had an English lineup which were mostly members of the Spiral Navigators and also here we formed a side Project named The Liquid Space Druids. But here we had some recordings but all were live. Also an old more synth-based sideproject named *Spherical Noises * was revived , also another Project from the nineties named LavaSpaceDream, and I also decided to record some solo stuff as Lord Iain Hawk. Most of them were more instrumental except for Schroedinger’s Cat and my solo project Lord Iain Hawk.
Actually, only Schroedinger’s Cat, Indian Kozmoz, Spherical Noises and a hidden project are still alive. All in all In had maybe 18 own bands in my life and guested so far Live and on albums maybe 60 more bands the most after 2011. (Aurora, Sendelica, The Spiral Navigators, Tanglemist, Tarana -just to mention a few) In 2019 I had another project which never got a name to do an album for the Hambacher Forest as a charity project. It never was finished because I had a big crash in 2020 and over 32Terabytes of files went to hell and only 24TB could be restored again. So I also decided to see it as a bad Omen and stopped it. You know which project I mean, eh? The one for A requiem for a forest? These last three years without music were bad years for me as a lot of friends, family members and band members have passed away, also before a lot of band members and so I needed that time to refill the inspiration chamber inside my mind. It is always hard when someone dies I had loved and I only play music with people I love I cannot open my heart to music while I am on the stage with people I do notlike).
Actually are more than 24 albums in Progress, but some are old ones I had never ever released for the one or other reason. ( I wasn’t satisfied with the mixing or the sound or the lyrics -whatever)
I also had some side projects with Sendelica named Dragon Hawkmoth and the Moongeezers and one that was called Trancedelikatz, which was also with Sendelica but more the jazzy parts of the session. And also another one named KatZenZahn which had been Sonic Trip Project and myself even that time two members of Sonic Trip Project also played with Schroedinger’s cat for some time (eight albums long) so you could say it was indeed half the cat and half STP. These projects happened when they visited me in my house and we played some music together. Before the Brexit often British bands were around on tour and often they have visited me for some curries and some wine and some jams and nice chats… Except for one who was a Brexiteer all are still welcome to come again.
I also do Animations and often I use them for older cat albums for Youtube or I do videos for other artists, but also a lot of 3D arts , mostly with the program Bryce 7.1. and I also work actually on a video about water in filming the little streams in this village-we have seven small ones here. Ok small ones under normal circumstances in 2018 they were really big when my area was hit by a flood disaster. But it is more short clips I merge into each with a little delay so they run into the next. The soundtrack I will compose when the film is finished, even I am not sure if I should ask others if they would be interested to do the soundtrack still not sure about this. I also wrote a book about England-more a funny one how to survive there if you weren’t born there… the proofreading is finished but still trying to sort the pictures for it. It will be published when I have completed the pictures for it in an issue of maximum 25 pieces as books (hardware) and as PDF. It is the sixth book I have written in my life.
And I also run once a year the Progressive-Spacerock Zine SpaceZine, but in English only. Meanwhile I don’t write all on my own anymore as I also found two other writers who love to write articles or interviews. The actual one is in progress, but still waiting for the hardware as I do it with a program that runs only under windows 7 and I cannot afford one for windows 10 and the PC had some hardware troubles. Thru the Shenzhen lockdown it was nearly impossible to get parts which I needed for this, even I was sure they still had the stuff in stock.
Sometimes I also draw crazy animals or shapes and forms on the walls of my house in the inside like for example the butterfly with a broken wing inside my studio.
3. Which artistic medium is most fulfilling for you?
A tricky question as my polyneuropathy and my arthrosis inside my thumb joints prevent me of doing the things I really love for example playing music – especially for the mighty Sitar and the Celtic Harp but I still think it is still music but also to create arts in 3D and also writing and filming things or creating videos I think music is on rank 1, then arts, then filming and animations, then writing books and then last not least the SpaceZine. My health prevent me of playing more music so often I stick in writing or creating arts. Actually I plan to start drawing.
4.What are some of your favorite creations?
I think the videos I did once for Sonic Trip Project were not the worst of all. I only took them down as normally the deal was I send them to them that they can upload them on their own, what they never did.
Of the Schroedinger’s Cat albums- 333 up to now (July 2022) I think the Hexalogy World of Lovecraft are good ones, also the first trilogy of the double trilogy (hexalogy) of Floating. Some of the Atomic Sun -series were also not the worst, also not for some of the Magick Rainbow World series (especially the albums Fireworlds which were dedicated to my son who passed away too early, and Iceworlds, which had been dedicated to all my band members and friends who went too early home to the stars. In the past, present and future times) and also not some of the Universal Elements series. With the other projects I like also the stuff I did solo some years back, mostly only guitar and vocals, but they are gone now and I won’t record them again or re-release them. The lyrics were more critical to my government and how it is to live at the edge of society. Germany will never ever let you live as an artist, if you play your own stuff without covering famous songs of other artists. I also love two of my books I wrote in the last five years. One was with lyrics and the story behind them and one is not really finished now and it is about England, the way to survive there if you weren’t born there. Watch my space it is named Stop Moaning – The habits of the hobbits a lot of people heard I wrote this book and unfriended me on Facebook without knowing anything about it. I always said it is disgusting but in reality it is more a funny way to have a deeper view to England and some of their worst habits. It was more written to sort Brexit but originally it wasn’t about Brexit in the first time, but the original script also went to hell with these crashes in 2020 so I had to write it new and meanwhile, Brexit happened and not to pull some of these topics into it, would have been wasted inspiration.
5. In your fantasy, which artist, living or dead, would you most want to make an album with?
I’m realist so I would tell you with which alive artists I would like to make an album . With Paul Sax and Sonja Kristina Linwood, both of Curved Air, John Simms and Maxine Marten, both of Clear Blue Sky, With Pete of Sendelica (even I did this already), with Nik Turner, with an old friend of mine Michael Vuckovac of Aubrey’s Dance, with Gregg McKella of Paradise 9 and also with Nik Nimbus, The Ex drummer of Here and Now & Paradise 9 and last not least with Garry Masters of The Magic Mushroom Band; of my ex-band members I still would like to work with there are some like Rob Tarana or with Daniela and Rainer Neeff – both of the Pancakes. And with Thomas Schmerda and Wuschel of Moloko Plus and Deutsch-Nepal. In my deepest Fantasy with Jean d’Auberlaque. And with Bernd Hock, who is a very old friend of mine I know now nearly 40 years. I just have to add all are brilliant musicians. Often I do not work with German musicians. Them and myself are often not compatible. It is seldom enough that you find German musicians inside my bands but actually I have a Lady in the band (Antje *the ant* Ihm) who plays often the drums and adds also guitar, synths, flutes, voices and other instruments.
6. Which artist, living or dead, would you most like to interview for the Spacezine?
That is easy :) Donald Buck Dharma Roeser, Eric Bloom, Syd Barrett, Dave Gilmour, Roger Waters, Pete Bingham, Lutz Rahn, Tim Jones, Jean d’Auberlaque, Jimi Hendrix, Robert Plant, Donovan, Sonja Kristina, Arthur Brown, Nik Nimbus, Keith Bailey, Gregg McKella, Stephen Smith, Detlev Schmidtchen, Frank Bornemann, Vince Cory; at least there are lots of more but I have decided to stop the SpaceZine after issue 4.2. Even tho I have interviewed Nik already, I would like to do it again.
Nik Turner, Deke Leonard, Bernd Kistenmacher, Dave Anderson , Edgar and Steve Broughton, Chris Karrer and Dieter Servas I have interviewed already, even most of them except for Nik not for the SpaceZine.
Of the graphical Artists I would like to interview Steven Barber, Ed Unitsky, Roger Dean and H.R.Giger. Of the authors are also quite a few but I would like to interview Michael Moorcock one day.