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Kludo White - Movie Heroes, Cult Icons, Comic Superhero, Guitar & Classic Pop Art Paintings and more






Artist/Musician Kludo White produces artworks of Movie Heroes, Cult, Music and Rock and Roll Icons, Comic Superhero, Guitar & Classic Pop Art, VW and Campervan Paintings and more.

Here Digger talks to Kludo about his career in art and music and about his love for Rock and Roll, Campervans and VW's and for pop culture imagery.



Digger: Hello Kludo. Can you please tell us a bit about your background?

Kludo: I started off in west London. I was born in Chiswick, down Hammersmith way. I was there until I was about eleven and then my parents moved down to the south coast.

Digger: You mentioning west London, Iím thinking of The Who.

Kludo: Yes, well thatís my neck of the woods. In fact, my Dad knew a lot of those guys.

Digger: Steptoe and Son territory really?

Kludo: Yes. In fact, my Dad played with Johnny Kidd and The Pirates for a while. He was the bass player and had met them at a holiday camp in the early sixties and toured with them for a while. He went to school with lots of people that youíd probably be interested in. He went to Isleworth Grammar School, and in his class was Francis Rossi, Ritchie Blackmore and Graham Nash, who was living in that part of London at the time. They were all in the same Skiffle groups together and then, as he went on - he was a drummer and a bass player, he played with all sorts of different people. He claims that Rod Stewart owes him money and various other people too. When I was a kid growing up in London, we used to have these funny blokes come round - I used to come home from primary school or junior school and thereíd be these hairy blokes in our kitchen drinking tea with my Dad. I didnít know who they were at the time or the significance. They were people like Ronnie Wood and Keith Richards, who used to pop round to catch up with my old man. He left all that scene and became a flying squad officer in the police force.

Digger: God, that was a bit of a change!

Kludo: Because he was a vice officer, he was going round to all the parties (Digger laughs) where heíd see all of his old mates over and over again.

Digger: Coming across his friends who were now on the other side of the law.

Kludo: Thereís a funny meeting place, actually, which most people donít realise. A halfway between being a criminal and a policeman and thatís where most policemen and criminals live.

Digger: Yes.

Kludo: And lives become blurry. It was an interesting childhood and, of course, my experiences were all universal and everybody lived that way and knew those sorts of people. It was normal for people to come round and play guitar in the front room all night long. As I got older I realised that wasnít what most people were used to. But that was my interesting start.

Digger: You were very lucky, werenít you?

Kludo: In lots of ways but in others Ė in my early teens it became a bit of an issue for me and nearly stopped me from being involved in it all. From becoming a musician and an artist, I mean, because I was surrounded by it and it was all kind of approved by my fairly hippy-like parents.

Digger: Oh yes, I see.

Kludo: So my early teenage rebellion was to be a bit straight.

Digger: Your inclination was to become a chartered accountant? (Laughs)

Kludo: Well, not quite but definitely I worked hard at school and insisted on going to university and things like that. Even though, by that stage, I was already working as an actor and musician.

Digger: Isnít that funny? That adolescent imperative to go against the parents.

Kludo: (Laughs) But itís always there. Mine was kind of the reverse of what you might expect. The late fifties, early sixties archetype was rebelling against everything that was supposed to be the norm.

Digger: In a way the two have sort of merged, have they not? Because youíve got the very artistic thing going on but thereís also a business mind that you have.

Kludo: For me?! Well, not really. I try to be businesslike and the point of me setting up my painting website years ago Ė maybe eight or nine years ago, was that Iíve always made a few quid out of selling paintings which I did for fun. But I decided I wanted a break from touring and that life. I had been touring with bands on the road, on and off, for ten or fifteen years. In musicals and at theatres. After a while it became a bit of a job and so I quite fancied a little beach house and staying at home for a while. And doing the paintings to keep me. And they did for a while, for four or five years. I didnít have enough hours in the day to paint and it was great. Rock stars and Volkswagens Ė it was all very interesting and challenging on a daily basis. Iíd wake up and thereíd be ten emails from different people saying ďCan you do this?" "Can you do that?Ē "Have you ever done a picture of Phil Lynnot?" " Have you ever done a picture of Hank Marvin?Ē And it was constantly interesting and itís one of the things I really love doing. But the orders have just dropped off because of the state of the economy. I would put the music on for whoever I was painting Ė a Jimi Hendrix CD and then doodle Jimi Hendrix and see how it came out. So the music and the art have always been overlapped intrinsically and one couldnít really survive without the other. To the point where Iíd be the person painting the cover for my recent record. I canít seem to draw the two apart at all and thereís always an element of one in another.

Digger: Not exactly Jekyll and Hyde but youíve got two parts to you?

Kludo: More like Jack of all trades, really. I seem to have this relentless cycle where I have to be a painter for a bit, kind of an intuitive thing where I need to paint and then another time Iím just not in the mood to draw or paint at all. So for the next couple of months or weeks or days Iím only interested in writing songs. And then I might not write anything for a year, because Iíll be concentrating on being on tour. Itís a funny thing and I understand why it takes so long, at a high level, to produce an album. Because when youíre touring youíre just in a different mode. Youíre living out of a bag, youíre not feeling at home anywhere that you go and when youíre away from home. For meÖ the one place I have been able to write music away from home was when I was living in my camper van. A few summer tours I've done in my bus - when the shows are done and the gig's all over I go back to my camper van and it's like a microcosm of home. My recent album was actually written while I was living in my van. A six month period which started about two years ago.

Digger: A shame you can't turn it into a studio like Ronnie Laine's Airstream one.

Kludo: Well, I have done some recording actually inside or sitting outside the van and then overdubbed in my little studio at home here. It's interesting trying to do things differently and this is the great thing about the digital recording technology and all the other technology that's available now. You can actually record on a laptop in a van and it doesn't sound like it's recorded on a laptop in a van. If I'd had this technology available to me twenty five years ago, it would have been a different story.

Digger: Amazing. It's strange isn't it? Because you've got all these youngsters who can record their material in a bedroom and master it and then market it as well.

Kludo: Yes, and, of course, the downside is that everybody's able to do it.

Digger: Exactly.

Kludo: And there's so much stuff coming out. Whereas in the mid-sixties or the early seventies there were a limited amount of people who were able to do something like that so it was easier to make your mark then, I think.

Digger: And most people, even if they had a dream of being a pop star or musician, would opt for the proper job because they didn't have the passion or the guts to do it.

Kludo: Yes and it's a generational thing too. The generation I've been in with my peers and colleagues as actors, musicians and even artists - the people I've worked with and known. We've all got this same issue that we're all doing it but we've all got to earn a living at the same time. So most of the people I know, as you say, wear many hats and are juggling their roles. And at the moment it's a nightmare for everybody.

Digger: It's just keeping your head above water really. That's the message I get from a lot of people these days.

Kludo: Songwriters, musicians, actors, artists - everybody I know is struggling at the moment more than ever.

Digger: It's strange though because I've got a lot of people, and a diverse range of businesses, promoting on my site and doing tangible products, be it hats or jewellery or lingerie or Betty Boop memorabilia or whatever....

Kludo: Yes, and things like that continue to be successful.

Digger: Yes and I think it's because they have identified a real niche and even though that niche may be small, and maybe only 1% might be interested in what you do, when you look at that 1% or whatever it is in terms of the web and the population of the USA, Europe and so on then that 1% is an awful lot of people. They can all find you and these businesses are getting customers from all over the world.

Kludo: Yes.

Digger: You started on the web very early didn't you Kludo?

Kludo: Well, bizarrely I'd never owned a computer until about ten years ago. The first time I bought it, it was a real eye-opener and I was about five years late actually getting into computers. I started designing my own website because several people said I should and I thought it would be good for selling the paintings. I tried it out and it was a steep learning curve for me, but I managed to build pretty much all of it on my own. Then, to make it work, I had to bend the ear of a friend of mine a little bit to try and get him to help me get it online - he gave me a few idiot-proof tutorials about how to do this and how to do that. Slowly it's evolved into what it's become now. Initially the website was just me selling VW T-Shirts and stickers, because at the time you couldn't buy them. But now, of course, the market's completely flooded. Animal, and various other major labels, started to produce VW T-Shirts...

Digger: And all the ceramic vans and so on.

Kludo: Yes, it was all suddenly everywhere and I had to evolve that to make enough money to keep it going. So it evolved into the paintings and then the guitars and other bits and bobs. So constantly having new ideas is the really important thing.

Digger: Who are your customers and where are they coming from? Are they worldwide?

Kludo: I get a lot of customers in the UK who I meet when I take a mobile gallery in the camper van to VW events and outside festivals and things like that. I set it all up and they come along and buy bits and bobs, they buy pictures and they talk to me about their vans. I get quite a lot of business from that - people will email me a picture of their bus or their Beetle and then I'll make an artistic impression of it for them and create that as a canvas and send it to them. And then, of course, there's word of mouth that comes from that. Again, that was very thriving about a year or two ago and now it's almost dropped off to be non-existent.

Digger: People just sitting on their hands.

Kludo: They just wait and think "Maybe I'll get that cheaper later on." It's nothing personal, I do understand that. (Laughs) It's just the way things are at the minute.

Digger: It's funny how human nature is and people are quite predictable, aren't they? They go into Christmas mode or Sales mode or Holiday mode or Recession mode. Almost to the minute you can predict some of these things.

Kludo: Yes.






Digger: What about commissions Kludo?

Kludo: If it's a portrait of a favourite actor or artist or some kind of musician then, if they've got a favourite album cover or a photograph, then I encourage them to send me that and then I'll do something from that along those lines. Quite often I get people asking me "Can you do me a Beatles picture a bit like that one you've got on there but these colours..." Or "Can you make me one like your Pink Floyd thing which is a collage-type painting which is one of my favourites?" - a collage of words and images. Those ones, people are quite happy for me to try things out and then generally I'll email people back to get some ideas from them. With images and half-created sketches which I'll put into the computer and play with them and then send them off. Once I've got approval it's easy, I just make a canvas the size they like and then get painting.

Digger: So you tell them what it's going cost, they say "Yes" and then you go from there?

Kludo: Yes, I'll draw up a basic idea of what I can make for them and then one or two emails pass back and forwards where they say "Can you change that bit? Could you put this word in or that image?" Often, with the vans, people ask me to personalise it.

Digger: That's the beauty of your stuff, of course, it is personalised...

Kludo: That's the difference, because what I always try and do, even if I reproduce the same canvas for somebody, I'll always make them deliberately slightly different in some way. The challenge has been every time I paint..... I must have painted The Beatles over a dozen times, and it's a funny thing - people will ask for a different colour scheme or a different scale. But it's a challenge every time to make it slightly better than the last one and it keeps me interested. That area I wasn't happy with in the last one I'll try and make Ringo's nose look slightly better, you know? If I can.

Digger: What does the sixties mean to you?

Kludo: In my early teens, twelve and thirteen, I was living down on the south coast, not far from where I live now in Brighton. It was a different experience for me and I was the London lad as far as the local kids were concerned. So it took a little bit of time to integrate but I just got really into records. My Dad had a massive collection of LPs which my brother and I used to listen to all of the time and thought "Wow, this is great." Everything from Buddy Holly, because my Dad was a huge Buddy Holly fan, to Eddie Cochran - all that early stuff. Acker Bilk, Lonnie Donegan, Dusty Springfield, Petula Clark.

Digger: It was a great mix.

Kludo: Yes, it was a really broad spectrum of the decent stuff from the late fifties and early sixties and we found that very inspirational. My brother is also a musician and an actor and we both drew quite a lot from that. The bands we both put together were inspired by the records we found in my Dad's record collection - not the actual records themselves, because they were his if you see what I mean. We got into others that weren't really well-represented in my Dad's collections such as The Stones, The Beatles and then The Kinks and The Who and all those Mod-type bands. But, for me, it was the Merseybeat stuff - my Dad didn't have many Beatles records but the ones he had really opened my eyes and then I suddenly realised "Hang on a minute, there's another ten or so albums out there of Beatles stuff." So, for me, it was a case of earning my money as a teenager and then going off to Brighton on the train to try and hunt down Beatles For Sale for under a tenner, you know? That was the thing - bringing the vinyl back and sticking it on the record player.

Digger: They don't get that experience at all nowadays do they? It's all instant gratification and downloads these days.

Kludo: Exactly. So I discovered and explored every aspect I could of the Beatles' music and that almost nerdy kind of fascination until I felt I almost knew everything and heard everything. Then I realised that these guys were figuratively from the same neck of the woods as me - you don't have to be born in Liverpool to do this. (Laughs)

Digger: Because The Kinks and The Who weren't that far from you either?

Kludo: No, not really no. It was later on when I looked towards the London groups - I think initially I'd looked in the wrong direction. The Yardbirds' Keith Relf was a personal friend of my Dad's. And he was living in the same road as us.

Digger: The Yardbirds are still touring with two of the original members - Jim McCarty and Chris Dreja. Such a big loss when we lost Keith.

Kludo: I know Jim too. Because as I got a bit older I was working in bands and living in Twickenham for about fifteen years and it all started to take off for me then. I was working as an actor and a musician - four or five nights a week working as a 'muso' and out gigging and playing university gigs and corporate gigs and all sorts of things. Playing fifties and sixties music sometimes, original music sometimes and it was just music, music, music.

Digger: A nice life really.

Kludo: It was a nice life and like anything it felt like it was a job after a while.

Digger: Yes.

Kludo. The interest waned for us and we all kind of moved on to different things and I moved on to become a 'serious actor' for a while - Shakespeare and plays and things like that. I moved away from music for a bit, then missed it and looked for some jobs in Rock and Roll theatre. I did Buddy and then played Eddie Cochran for about five years, on and off, in the west end. I toured the world playing Eddie Cochran which I loved. It was my favourite job I've ever had. Leather trousers, a great big quiff, a beautiful Gretsch guitar and superb songs to play. And people from any generation, whether they know Cochran or not, cannot help but enjoy themselves listening to Summertime Blues. And I was playing these great, great Rockabilly songs and especially live they've got such power. I became Britain's leading exponent at playing Eddie Cochran because of all the various shows I did. And the funny thing was, I played myself with an American accent! Because nobody really knew. I had a real struggle when I played Elvis - I used to work for Bill Kenwright quite often in his Rock and Roll shows and he had me playing 'the middle Elvis' for a while. It's really hard, that gig. Because everybody, even if they don't like Elvis's music, thinks they know exactly how he moved, spoke, looked - every aspect of Elvis.

Digger: I saw an Elvis show last year and the first half featured a guy who really looked like him and the second half a guy who really sounded like him.

Kludo: Yes, that's kind of how it seems to work with Elvis - the early Elvis has to look right and the later Elvis has to sound right. The audience can be quite forgiving with the rest of it, but generally speaking my experience of playing Elvis is it's about the hardest gig you can have. It's seen as naff by the general populous - end of the pier-type naff. And around the time they had Stars In Their Eyes on the TV. It's odd because we're all nevertheless musicians.

Digger: Tribute bands these days have actually got a very good reputation.

Kludo: They have NOW, but back then people looked down their noses at it quite a bit. Even in quite high profile theatre shows where we were playing to 3,500 people at places like The Liverpool Empire, in The Roy Orbison Story in which I played John Lennon and Michael Caine and a few other characters as well as being a musician. They were great jobs but there was this "Oh, it's old-fashioned" attitude. It doesn't exist today. Retro is much more cool than it has been.

Digger: Why is that?

Kludo: I think it's partly because there isn't anything of any real substance or quality that's coming out to compare with the past. I'm forty now and with my generation there was always a bit of a snobbery about music. It must have been something to do with the way society was based when I was a kid. But what I find interesting is something I discovered with my recent album, which is deliberately retro and quite obviously a celebration of the music of the fifties and the sixties which I love. So I went back to my roots and worked through that inspiration, which has been very therapeutic for me and I got a lot of that out of my system in a way. Which means I can now concentrate on my own sound. But great fun doing it and you learn so much when you do that sort of thing and study the early Sun recordings and try and reproduce it. That was what I enjoyed about the Rock and Roll shows that I used to do.

Digger: Do you play everything on it?

Kludo: Nearly. I have a couple of friends who are professionals who sang with me a little bit and a drummer that played on a few tracks. My brother's guitar player played on one or two of the songs. My friend Andy Pelos is on about eight of the songs with me but it's largely me and I wrote all of them and I play all the instruments.

Digger: What sort of feedback are you getting about the album Kludo?

Kludo: It's really taken off. I really didn't know what to do with the tracks because they've really been accumulating for the last two or three years. There were ones I didn't think I could use because they were too evocative of other people's sounds or manner or style. I kind of shelved them all and had this collection of songs and I was encouraged by my wife and friends to get them out and so something with them. I thought I needed something to make them hang together right - I couldn't just put them out as a set of songs, they were too different from each other and too much of a range of styles. When I came up with the Pirate Radio show with the DJ bits and the jingles in between I thought "Yes, that could work."

Digger: Clever.

Kludo: That makes even ME want to listen to the whole thing when I put it on. 'Cos I much prefer to listen to radio than listening to CDs or albums. To me, albums from Hendrix, The Who, The Beatles and The Beach Boys and even The Small Faces - they used to create these concept albums where you'd listen to the whole album, the way you do with Sgt Pepper. It's very difficult to take it off or to put that album on half way through.

Digger: Some bands had a theme running through or a little bit of talk which carried on through.

Kludo: In a way that's a very retro thing to do as well so it all seemed to fit. And because it's autobiographical really - when listening to the songs objectively they really have told the story of my life over the last few years. As my songs often do without me realising, and they're a bit like a diary reflecting my ideas and experiences. So listening to them with a bit of distance, I realised there was a bit of a story and it is something of a concept album with a bit of philosophy and a kind of positive energy and outlook about the songs. It worked when I put all the voice and bits and bobs and the silly noises in - it suddenly became more interesting and exciting.

Digger: Is it available as a download as well as a CD?

Kludo: It is, yes. I said to my wife, who is my manager these days "If we're going to put this out I'd like to do something positive with it because it sounds so positive." So we went to The Teenage Cancer Trust whose inspiration is Roger Daltrey and we met and spoke with them up in London a couple of times. They all really liked it and were keen on getting involved in projects that they think that would be commercially viable. So I said "I'd like to give the proceeds to you guys." So they're helping to publicise it and to find an audience and we've sold about 1,000 copies now since the end of September.

Digger: What about the future then Kludo?

Kludo: What we plan to do is tour - The Campervan Radio Tour. I have started rehearsals with the band to play the album live and we have been booked to play half a dozen Volkswagen Festivals in 2012 and various other gigs that we've got lined-up as well. This starts around April 2012. I'd like to take it to the States, but we'll see how it goes over here first. It's one of those things where it's not going to make anybody rich or famous but it feels good and it feels right and I always like to follow my intuition on things because it's never really let me down on anything in the past. So we're going to do that this Spring and it's been very well received so far. We've got a lot of people now buying it from the website and it's got its own website as well now. The Internet makes things like this a lot easier. Today, we sold a copy of the CD to a guy in Hawaii and last week we sold a couple to Australia, just from the web. Slowly and surely it's presence is being known - it's out there and people are slowly finding it. We've not put a lot of money or time into promoting it - it's been organic - "Get that done, put it out there, see what happens." That's what I like about it. John Lennon used to talk about Instant Karma and how he'd write a song in the morning and record it in the day and it would be on the shelves the next day. Well, you can pretty much achieve that sort of thing now. A couple of the songs were done very last minute.

Digger: Well, it's a fun and fascinating album. It's been really good talking to you Kludo. You know your stuff and it's great.

Kludo: It's lovely to be appreciated!

Digger: Thanks for that Kludo.

Kludo: Thank you David.





Big, bright and colourful works of art which make a stunning centre-piece for any room.

Movie Heroes, Cult Icons, Comic Superhero, Guitar & Classic Pop Art Paintings.

VW Art.

Kludo has also written 14 original songs for the ideal summer soundtrack for Beach Bums, Surfers, & VW Bus Drivers.
"It's a Pop Art Classic - like Sgt Pepper for Surfers & retro Pirate Radio ...the ultimate soundtrack for driving a Vintage VW!" The Surfer
28 track CD with 14 original songs
Includes "Camper Van Driver", "Surf's Up!", "Flip Flops, Shorts & Shades", "In The Sun", "California" & "Michael Caine"

The Kludoman Surf Co. &

Whitewater Studios
8A Sea Way
West Sussex
PO22 6JX
Telephone: 01243 583 959 (UK)

Kludo White

Campervan Radio






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