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A founding member of Skinny Puppy, cEvin Key is still making innovative music

cEvin Key is one of the founding members of Skinny Puppy. By mixing the aesthetics of power electronics, noise and early industrial music with politically conscious lyrics, Skinny Puppy has had a strong, enduring influence on anyone trying to make music outside the mainstream context of basic rock arrangements (guitars, bass and drums). Key has had his hand in various other well-known projects over the years, including Tear Garden with Edward Ka-Spel of the Legendary Pink Dots. Always exploring a new dimension of his creative life, Key has not only worked on innovative music in bands, but his music has also appeared on movie soundtracks, including Inglourious Basterds. In advance of a rare solo appearance in Denver, we were able to have some words with Key about his work and the changing world of music.

Westword: Are you touring in support of a new solo album, or is this tour going to be more of a Download/PlatEAU type of thing?

cEvin Key: has just released the "Beyond the Vault" set, of which I have four albums I have been working on: Download, PlatEAU, Tear Garden and the BananaSLOTH album. This tour is really in support of that, and the previous Vault series that released Download-FiXeR and PlatEAU-Kushbush. I will be playing with one of the original Download members Mark Spybey, whom I have played with before in Dead Voices on Air.

Can you tell me how the music of the Legendary Pink Dots influenced you, and how it was you first came to hear them in the early '80s?

Just by chance, actually. I heard them on a compilation album called The Elephant Table Album. Really, it was a blessing kind of album, mainly, because it gave me a sense of direction and where the music I was making at the time really fit in. It was like finding my long lost family. I started to write to Edward Ka-Spel, and he asked me to be his soundman on his first U.S. tour in 1986. I had a instrumental track at the time, "The Centre Bullet," and I asked him to do some words on it, and that was the start of our collaboration 24 years ago.

How would you say the music scene on a macro scale and perhaps the industry itself has changed or evolved since you first started out playing?

Every component has changed. Everything from analog equipment and tape going through the whole development of MIDI, sampling, computer technology, digital recording, synthesizers, virtual instruments, plug-ins, and, of course, the industry, with going from vinyl and tape to CD, to downloading, to starting our own label. We have seen it all, pretty much.

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Tom Murphy is a writer, visual artist and musician from Aurora, Colorado. He was a prolific music writer for Westword and a documenter of the Denver music scene.

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