This month, we feature a track from the dynamic poet and songwriter, Ksatriya, a name you’ll hear of quite a bit in the local spoken word scene. We talk about his track Bogeyman from his debut EP RED and the concept of “Other” and how it applies to his work and his life. You can listen to Ksatriya’s debut EP here and keep up with him on Facebook.
ISSUE Magazine: Where did Bogeyman come from? Could you tell us a little bit about how the track came about, and what the process was like in writing it and making it?
I think Bogeyman has been lurking in a dark closet hidden somewhere in my mind for a long time now. In fact, I think he’s in all our closets and under all our beds. It’s just that some of us have our eyes shut so tight, we don’t see him traipsing about our psyche.
But I stay up late, and I make friends with the things that go bump in the night. So, I see him — clinging piggyback on to the back of the middle class salaryman, or casually strung over the shoulders and arms of the privileged like a watch or a bracelet, or tucked into the hidden pockets of powerful politicians to be pulled out in a flash when they feel threatened.
What was the process like? Cathartic, I suppose. When Bogeyman climbed out of my mouth in the studio and stood there grinning back at my sound engineer and I through the monitors and computer screens, there was almost something familiar in his scarecrow smile and dust-caked dinner jacket.
He’s sort of a communal monster, I think. He’s something that belongs to all of us. So we just threw a top hat on him and told him to go make friends with the worm that lives in everyone’s ear.
The concept of the “bogeyman” in society is someone to be scared of, be fearful of, a dark dangerous “creature” that menaces your life. What’s your “bogeyman”? And do you think you’ve ever been considered a “bogeyman” by someone else — as you say in the song: Everybody’s somebody’s Bogeyman.
Well, I don’t think I get to have a Bogeyman anymore. Like I said, I made friends with mine and he’s off making friends with other people’s monsters, so I’m pretty much left bogeyman-less. I might start making friends with all the ghosts that haunt this country, instead. Plenty of old memories buried under the carpet, if you know what I mean.
As for being someone else’s Bogeyman, who could possibly be afraid of a bald, tattooed, Indian man?
It’s not like we’re in gangs or anything.
When you think of the word “Other”, do you connect it with positive connotations or negative ones? Could you expand on your answer? How does it relate to your life personally?
When I think of the word “Other”, the first thing that comes to mind is what it might rhyme with. “Brother” is the obvious one, though I suppose one could also get away with “Father”, “Mother”, “Shoulder” or perhaps even “Otter”.
Positive, negative, good and bad – these are binaries. I try not to think in binaries. It’s completely removed from reality, especially when it involves people and our behaviour. Binaries are things we come up with to try and force the round peg of reality into the square space of our expectations. They take up a lot of energy and make people act weird. We should stop using them.
There seems to be a “defiant ousider” stance you take in most of your poems/songs, where you look at the stories that exist at the margin, or the stories behind the veneer of something — things between the cracks. What fuels your work, what do you think are the themes you keep coming back to?
My work is fueled primarily by sugar and caffeine. Research into more environmentally-friendly methods of combustion is currently underway.
I think what I keep coming back to is that my work isn’t really something on the margins of civilization, or deep within an obscure crack in the hell-bottom of a backward society. This stuff is right in front of your face. This stuff is the here and now. This stuff is the norm.
The only reason we think that these are things between the cracks, is because we’ve squeezed reality between two large blocks of self-delusion, one block for each eye.
I suppose it’s something like those optical illusions. You know pictorial ambiguity? Where a picture may look like one thing, but change your perceptions only slightly, and suddenly it depicts a completely different scene. One of the most famous ones is the young woman/old lady ambiguity.
Shift your perceptions only slightly, and suddenly you’re in my world. And it’s one crazy place.
Featured art by Kim Khaira for ISSUE #16: OTHER.