Stefan of Stardumb Records talks Kepi: The Book

Curt Doughty

Curt Doughty

Stefan Tijs, label head for Netherlands pop-punk label Stardumb Records, recently announced his plans to put out a book collecting the work of former Groovie Ghoulies frontman and current solo act, Kepi Ghoulie. Those who’ve attended Kepi’s live shows know that in addition to the usual t-shirts, records, and other rock ‘n’ roll merch, you can purchase small oil paintings done by the pop rock ‘n’ roller. Kepi’s also done the artwork for many of his own releases. This all adds up to something that could potentially fill one of those gigantic coffee table books. We spoke with Tijs about the plans for the book, and what you can do to be a part of it.

kepi-ghoulie-art-01This art book sounds ambitious, as Kepi’s such a prolific artist. What led you to take it on?

I’ve been on tour with Kepi several times so I’ve seen a lot of his work and always love it, but even more than his single pieces I love it when I see a complete wall or a merch table filled with all his little paintings. A lot of them together really show you a different, more joyful world: the world of Kepi. At some point a few years ago when we had an art show together I was looking at the wall with all his paintings and the idea for a book just popped up in my head. I figured it would be even more brilliant to have hundreds of Kepi paintings collected together. It would be the perfect book to grab when you feel like smiling. When I told Kepi the idea he liked it right away, but at first I didn’t have the intention to put it out myself. But the idea kept coming back into my mind, so at some point I figured what the heck, let’s just do this!

How long do you anticipate this taking to complete?

I’m shooting for a release this summer. That’s pretty soon, but I already have a whole lot collected. Dino the girl, who joined Kepi on many tours since 2007, photographed pretty much every painting Kepi made during those tours, so thanks to her I already had hundreds of pics to start with. Besides that Kepi has been photographing a lot of his most recent stuff himself as well and on top of that he handed me a pile of photos from 2001 to 2004. Scanning those old pics, sorting them, photo editing, etc. takes up a crazy lot of time though, so I don’t wanna pin myself down on an exact date yet, but I’d have it out rather sooner than later.

Is it going to be a straight-up art book, or will there be a musical component – an included CD or 7-inch, perhaps?

It’s not set in stone yet, but it looks like it’s gonna be just an art book. Would be cool to include something like a CD or 7-inch, but I also want it to be affordable. Having a voluminous full color book printed is quite pricy, so adding a musical component would make the whole thing more expensive. At this point it seems like the best idea to make it just a book. There’s always your own record collection or Spotify to find Kepi’s songs when you’re in need for the perfect soundtrack to go with the book.

kepi-ghoulie-art-02How will the book be set up? Sections devoted to original paintings, fliers, album art, and so on? Or will it be thematic: bats, wolves, aliens?

We have had different ideas about this. One idea was it would be a lotta fun to have the pieces organized by color, so flipping through the book would show a rainbow… But right now I’m organizing them by theme indeed; all the bats together, all the lizard kings together, space creatures, sea creatures, etc. It’s really cool to see all them together.

Do you have a title in mind?

Various ideas here too, but nothing’s decided yet!

You’ve put out a call for people who have Kepi art. What are you hoping to get?

Like I said I already have a whole lot of pics, but I know there’s still a lot of Kepi art out there I don’t have photos of. I know it’s gonna be impossible to collect everything and that’s not necessary, but I would like to be able to show the best selection possible. Therefore it would be great if everyone who owns a Kepi original could send a photo of it to kepi[at]stardumbrecords[dot]com.

Please understand we might not be able to use every photo we’ll receive, but all help is surely appreciated! I already received a couple of great pieces I’ve never seen before. My favorite surprise so far is a painting of two octopi (or rather a mono- & duopus) he made in England in 2004.