There is nothing better than to interview a poet. They are the people who understand life, who know their scene and who quietly put into words what we cannot even express. In a way, they are chroniclers of victories and struggles of life. It was Czesław Miłosz who said that the poet remembers and it is very true. So it was a true pleasure and privilege to speak to Manchester`s finest spoken word artist and poet – Karl Hildebrandt ahead of Musicians Against Homelessness gig on 21st August at The Night People.
Karl is known not only for his extraordinary poems but also for his active involvement in music and his charity work on a local level. Proper stuff as they say in Mancunia.
You are a man of many talents: multi – instrumentalist, spoken word artist, poet, roadie and a stage hand. Please introduce yourself to the readers of Indieterria.
Karl Hildebrandt: I’ve had a love of music and words since an early age. Bother listening and eventually playing. I’ve always written words. Just never had the nerve to do it live till about 5 years ago. “Mancunian Gobshite” sums me up to be honest.
Dark and witty poetry has won you many notable fans: Denise Johnson, Dave Haslam, MC Tunes to mention a few. You take daily conversations, occurrences and fleeting moments and turn them into heart wrenching observations. What inspires you?
Karl Hildebrandt: Life inspires me. I tend to brain dump either on paper or my phone. I see the good and the shitty bits and write it down. In the last 8 months or so, my prose has become a lot lighter than previously. I am happy and in love.
You have been performing at concerts, open mic nights and jam sessions earning yourself a nick name “Mosh Pit Poet Laureate”. Do you see spoken word as a part of a regular gig? There are still many people out there who think poetry belongs in libraries, not concert halls.
Karl Hildebrandt: I think poetry and spoken word is becoming a bit more popular. A pot of acts are putting words over music. I am, but I prefer the purity of just getting up to “shout at the traffic”. If people hear you, they’re listening.
Karl Hildebrandt: No. Chris has a new project called Cold Water Swimmers, who are amazing. And Simon is busy doing what Simon does, being Funky Si. In the San Pedro Collective.
Please tell us about your involvement in San Pedro Collective – another musical project that you are a part of. San Pedro just released an EP that gathered rave reviews in the music press. Is that true that one of the songs was inspired by your mother?
Karl Hildebrandt: The San Pedro Collective is the brainchild of Manchester’s finest maverick, Rikki Turner. His vision to bring artists and musicians together to create something unique for the eyes and ears is genius. The Demon Sessions EP is being rehearsed for live work. Gigs are coming up. And the next single will be dropping soon. And yes, inspired by me losing my mum, but it’s a paean to loss of any kind.
If you had to chose one particular poetry movement to identify with, which one would it be? Beatniks, Modernists or maybe something more old school like The Cavaliers?
Karl Hildebrandt: The Beats. I hate structure within any art form. Be it music, poetry, art or whatever. I feel hemmed in by conformity. Burroughs, Kerouac and Ginsberg helped me understand you can be honest about writing and not worry about what you’ve written. Never be afraid to create.
You are also known for your charity work, often contributing to incentives as Musicians Against Homelessness. Can you tell us about this charity and its work?
Karl Hildebrandt: MAH was set up by Alan McGee and Emma Rule to create a platform for musicians and creatives to raise both funds and awareness for homelessness. In the North West we have Andy White and Angela Moore, co-coordinating gigs and events. Both top people as well. I’m also doing some spoken word for Action Against Hunger at Moovin Festival for Deborah Faulkner-Moscrop and I’ve done stuff for various other charities. Give it – you get it back.
On 21st August you will appear at Night People as part of a fundraiser to fight homelessness. Who is on the bill and what can we expect from your set?
Karl Hildebrandt: The gig is on at Night People on Princess Street in Manchester. Top line up including acoustic sets from Thomas from The Blinders, Scuttlers, Afghan Sound Gang and Maddy Storm amongst others. And me, of course. I found a poem, a poem I couldn’t remember writing which will fit the bill. I supported Dave Johns (Daniel Blake) at Moston Miners and recorded it on the bus on the way home. It’s very, very sweary.
Imagine that one of your works is to appear in anthologies or school syllabuses, like John Cooper Clarke`s “I Wanna Be Yours”. Do you have a poem that you consider your major or most significant piece?
Karl Hildebrandt: I honestly don’t know. My stuff contains far too many swear words, but if I had to choose one, “Another Bastard List Poem About Manchester”. I’ve done a Liverpool version and have been asked for a London version as well.
We can`t pass this opportunity. Do you think we can get a haiku out of you about Indieterria?
Karl Hildebrandt: Sorry, I struggle with haiku. I’ll get my mate Dave Norman to do one for you. Here’s one of my favourites though:
“The taste of rain
Why kneel?” –
You can follow Karl on the socials (you know those pesky online pages), but he is often found at the nearest Social or other boozer/venue in the neighbourhood.
The full line up is as follows:
We are proud to say that we will be attending MAH gig at The Night People so there will be a lot to report back! We are hoping to see some of you down the front.