Robert Fripp

Robert Fripp's Diary

Wednesday 01 April 2020



Rising 07.00. Morning reading…

Morning listening: Kaija Saariaho.

Following three days of e-fury, the inbox resists. Thank you to all those good and generous people who are enquiring as to our health and wellbeing, sending good wishes and condolences. Please forgive me if you do not receive a reply: I am on overload today. There have been suggestions that we have time on our hands – pah! to that. We are both moving between very busy and overload.

I Advance Masked – Day Twelve…

And shopping protocols have moved forward rapidly since yesterday. Ken’s Groceries and our small high street supermarket have both introduced social distancing measures. Hooray! Both have my support.

RF Press Conference with European Journalists
Sanctuary Board Room, Olympia, London
Wednesday 5th. February, 2003 @ 11.00.

RF: I’m aware that some professionals’ interest in King Crimson is mainly professional, and I have no difficulties with that. The professional level of questions is more-or-less allowed for in the first hour. If anyone has questions which are more personal, or of deeper interest, then the second session is provided for that. If anyone really has burning questions, then the third session is allowed for that. It’s not strictly that everyone has to go at quarter-to-the-hour, it’s not like that at all. If we’re on a roll then I’m happy to keep rolling.

For my personal interest, I have no need to do interviews. I don’t look on interviews as promotion. There have been times in my life where, perhaps because of the arrogance of youth, if on the occasional moments where I felt I had something to say of value, then these were opportunities to say that. That has now moved to, shall we say, post-maturity. Within the professional context however, it seems to me that if interviews are looked on as a promotional tool, then the value of dialogue and multilogue is somewhat negated.

I’ve just returned from Spain, where I’ve been in a house in Los Molinos, a retreat centre for a monastic order, in a house that suits about 30 or 40 people. In fact, we had 84 guitarists in the house for a Guitar Craft course. The questions of people who, addressing the realities of our life - whatever we understand by “realities” - are very generally mundane and straight-forward and shared by all of us. But the concerns of a young person, and how they might reach music when their background is not necessarily the most supportive for doing that, these are questions which have more flavour for me than the courteous professional exchange of professionals doing a piece of work. And I’m one of those professionals here at the table. So, with this said, if anyone has professional questions then I’m happy to answer them.

But I lie, actually. I’m not happy to answer them at all - I would rather invite questions which are burning, or on fire. Most of the information that you have available is more than adequate for your purposes. So, are there any questions which firstly, only Robert is likely to be able to answer? And secondly, questions that have value for you personally?

Q: The Power Of Life, sorry, The Power To Believe, do you mean that as belief in one’s personal abilities or in something more transcendental?

RF: Anyone that might read newspapers, or go to work over a period of 20 or 30 years, and for those of us who act within a commercial culture, even before we turn on satellite news from around the world - a reasonable person might despair. If all that is open to us is the information on offer, then life is too hard. So, perhaps a reasonable response is simply to give up. There’s nothing we can do.

In terms of the EP Happy With What You Have To Be Happy With, the Japanese title of the EP is Shoganai, which in Japan has a very, very different resonance. A French translation might be c’est la vie. An English approach would be that’s life. But neither of these quite have the flavour of the Japanese, which is more or less along the lines of two atomic bombs have gone off... that’s life! Well, it’s a bit more than that’s life! It’s shoganai.

Q: It’s fate?

RF: Well, that’s another expression. But if two bombs went off down the road from me, I think I might say a bit more than that’s fate! In Japan shoganai is a wonderfully multivalent word which covers just about every circumstance: from someone I love has just been crushed on the subway to there is no hope whatsoever. It can be a very powerfully emotive word in Japan. You have a sense of hopelessness and despair - a reasonable person might despair.

On the other hand, Hope is unreasonable. And Love is greater than this.

So here you have the balance: life is hopeless, there is Hope. How to hold these two in balance in a very strange world? For me, this is the thinking behind the album and the EP which leads up to it. Happy With What You Have To Be Happy With is very nicely in 11/8 which fits the music and Adrian’s particularly upbeat American take on that’s life! that’s fate! and c’est la vie.

Q: To what extent are you involved with the content or the ideas of an album like this?

RF: In terms of how one shapes and directs, shall we say, creative projects is a far more interesting and subtle situation. For example, if you sit in a room with three other men for three weeks and hold an idea, by the end of that period at least someone else in the room will be thinking and acting on the idea you have held firmly, even if you have said or played nothing. But this is now into an interesting and subtle area.

Q: You were talking earlier about despairing, hopelessness and stuff, but in the album would there also be some angriness there, in something like Level Five and some other one’s and I wonder if that’s true, where it comes from... in reaction to what?

RF: No, I don’t myself feel anger in that. What I would see is a way of recognising the remorselessness of events once set in motion. Anything we do generates repercussions. Anything we do intentionally, the repercussions will be at a level that we can handle; we can deal with them. If we act carelessly, the repercussions proliferate and our lives will become more complex with unnecessary issues. If, however, we act in a way that we know is fundamentally not right, then the repercussions may overwhelm us. So Level Five is one way of dealing with the seemingly remorseless progression of events that follow any action. And it may not be necessarily our personal actions, although that’s part of it.

This is obviously one particular approach, and if that were all that there were in life, then life would really be hopeless. Redemption is the theological term for how repercussions on a large scale are dealt with. Also on a small scale.

Q: Are you referring to any particular personal event, for example?

RF: You can say that Level Five deals with the remorseless progression of circumstance and repercussions on a general basis. Would there be personal situations in there? Yes, I believe there would be. Would there be larger and impersonal situations? Yes. But this is one of the beauties of music: it’s wonderfully wide.