Its publication coincides over the time with the output of "Moby Doc" (Rob Bralver, 2021), a documentary that tells his life in a very original way, shyming the topics of the genre, which does not have a minute of waste, and PuntalaAn autobiographical period, the last five years, during which he also published a couple of memoirs.You can see it at the In-Edit Musical Documentary Festival on October 30 and November 1 (Aribau Multicines, Barcelona).
The New York musician serves us by Zoom from his home in California, and is as intelligent, humble and insightful as usual.He is one of those interviewees with whom one would not mind burning a couple of hours.
Did you pretend with this album to return to your origins before electronics?Giving your old songs a new meaning? It was a combination of two things.On the one hand, I really like the idea of working in modes that I have not tried before.Most of the music I have made in my life has been composed of my little recording studio, just for me.Only one person, almost always at night, working in music.And make an orchestra album, by definition, much other people require.The orchestra, a gospel choir, instrumentalists, a director, sound engineers ... and it was very interesting to work in a way in which I had not done so far.But the most important reason was that, using these songs, I tried to create something that had an emotional depth.Generate emotion with music made only with acoustic instruments.No electronics.What is a challenge, because I have always liked people who have the ability to use a string quartet, or classical music or acoustic instruments to create or channel emotion through their work.
How does contact with Deutsche Grammophon arise?Did you be clear that it was the indicated seal? Yes, about four years ago I offered a concert in Los Angeles, at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, with Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, basically a night of orchestral versions of my songs, withA gospel choir and different singers.After the concert, Hannah Rossman, from Deutsche Grammophon, approached Backstage and asked me if I would be interested in capturing him in an album.I told him yes, instantly.Obviously, it is the oldest and most respected record of the world.I couldn't believe that they would allow me to record an orchestral disc with its cover logo.
Recently I was interviewing Brian Bell, from Weezer, who told me that in his band's album, "Ok Human" (Crush/Atlantic, 2021), they had been afraid to sound too pompous when using an orchestra.Would it happen to you too? What I like about acoustic music and working with a string quartet or with a complete orchestra is the dynamic.You can have very delicate sections and also others very scandalous, very bombastic.The word "pomposo" ... I think I was more interested in creating something that had an emotional approach, that breathed that way.And I think my work was easier than for other musicians who also come from pop or electronics, because many of these songs were already originally written with ropes, even if they were synthesized strings: "Natural blues", "porcelain", "Go"...They had already been orchestrated, even if it was in my way, in a strange way.This is how they were born in my study, with my synthesizer.
Tell me about the collaborations on the album.They are Gregory Porter, Mindy Jones, Mark Lanegan, Kris Kristafferson ... Did you clear who were going to participate in each song as soon as you reimagined them?Or was it a subsequent process? It depends on the cases.He had already recorded "The Lonely Night" with Mark Lanegan about ten years ago, "Innocents" (Mute, 2013), was one of the last of the album and I am not sure if many people listened to it, but it is aOf my favorite songs.And I simply had this vision of Kris Kistoferson singing it with Mark (Lanegan), I was clear from the beginning.With "Natural Blues", for example, it was different, since I started recording the instrumental part and it was then when I thought about who could sing it, and Gregory Porter was one of my first elections.He, very kindly, said yes.And that led me to know Amythyst Kiah, with whom he forms due to the song.There is an original version of "Troubled So Hard", I think that of the 30s, which is its base, and that it is a duet between a man and a woman, so it was a way to recreate her.
There is also a version of "Heroes" by David Bowie, with whom you had a good friendship.Was it a way of paying tribute to the only collaborator with whom it was impossible to tell? David Bowie was my favorite musician of all time.The first job I had was in a golf course, when I was thirteen, and the first thing I did with my first salary was to buy two Bowie albums.Years later, about 1999, I approached the street to greet me, something that seemed incredible at that time.We did not know each other until then.We became friends, almost neighbors, we lived very close to each other.We turned together, we spent vacations together ... There was a beautiful moment, on Saturday morning, in 2001, when it went through my floor, prepared a coffee, we sat on the couch and we set an acoustic version of "Heroes".In my opinion, it is the most beautiful song ever written, apart from that Bowie, as I tell you, is my favorite musician always.And there I was, with my favorite musician, on the couch, playing that song that results from a musician who is also my neighbor.Something incredible.The version that appears on the album, as you say, is a tribute.To him, to my friendship with him.But it is also supposed to be like a representation of that moment when we were sitting on my sofa playing it.
And why didn't you want to sing it and delegated to Mindy Jones? I wanted it to be a version that captured the vulnerable beauty of that song.And that he will move away a lot from the original.Because the original is perfect.David Bowie's recording with Tony Visconti and Brian Eno is perfect.You can't improve it, in any way.I wanted to change it almost completely, so it didn't seem to be trying to improve it, but do something different.No battery, without electric guitar.And the fact that the singing a woman I think makes the focus more in the intimacy of the song.
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I had the opportunity to speak with you five years ago, when you published your first memoir, "Porcelain" (sixth floor, 2016), which covered your life until 1999.Then you published another, "The It Fell Apart" (Faber Social, 2019), which went from 1999 to 2009, and which, unlike the first, has not been translated into Spanish.Do you intend to edit a third? Mmm ... is an interesting question.The only problem is that now I am 55 years old, I am sober and my life is very, very boring.I like the life I lead, it's very simple.I do not go on tour, I do not drink, I do not get high, I have no couple appointments with anyone ... With what may not be doing anything worth capturing in other memories.It would be like the same page that is repeated three hundred times.Get up, make me a smoothie, read the news, do some music and practice hiking.This is any day of my life now, basically.So if I wrote a third book, I don't think I had the same structure as the first two.Those two covered everything.
In fact, the departure of your album coincides with the publication of the documentary about your life, "Moby Doc" (2021), directed by Rob Gordon Bralver, with the participation of David Lynch, among others.At the beginning of the footage, you insist on the idea - already expressed in your books - that money and fame do not give happiness.You exemplify it with artists like Kurt Cobain, who committed suicide.In your case, you had a hard childhood, something that marked you forever.But would you change the fame and money you have earned for having a more cozy childhood and youth? It is a very interesting question.I think most human beings have some kind of remorse on our past.Most of us thought we could have chosen better, and avoided some stupid things we have done.But lately I have realized that I feel really grateful for the perspective I have now.Do you know?For the way I see the world.That is completely product, of each and every one of the experiences that I have had.So when I look at the past, even when I think of the most terrible things - when I touched the background as an alcoholic and drug addict, all the great mistakes I have made -, I do not regret anything because just at this moment I feel grateful to see it in perspective, and lucky of life I have.Not necessarily in the material, but in the sense that my way of seeing the world is the result of all my experiences.Including, of course, the strangest.
Actually, my question is a bit cheat, because one thing could not have existed without the other: without everything you lived as a child, your music would not have had that emotional depth that, after all, was what connectedWith millions of people around the world.It may sound simple, but the human condition is the human condition for everyone.I mean that some circumstances can change, we can have different gender, different economic status, different religious traditions, different cultural traditions, but ultimately, we all end up in the same place.And it doesn't matter who we are, because the human condition entails a degree of suffering, a degree of disease and a degree of loss of loved ones.And in the end, death.And all those things create confusion and suffering.But I feel that there is a way in which music can resonate globally, if it reflects someone's experiences in their human condition.Because we all try to escape our own human condition, but no one has been able to do it.We try to escape from it through fame, money, degeneration, nihilism, cynicism, religion or politics, but nothing of all that will make us stop being who we are.We will continue to be human.
There is a lot of humor in the documentary, I understand that as a way to remove iron from very hard situations, and is narrated in an unusual but very didactic way, as if it were a personal therapy session.How was the work with the director, Rob Gordon Bralver? To be honest, almost the entire documentary is basically a collaboration between the two.But, obviously, he comes out in the credits as director because it would be strange if I appeared.He is the director, writer and editor, did a great job, but the nature of the film is attributable to both of them, trying to devise interesting ways to tell a story.We decided from the beginning to avoid file interviews.Many documentaries, especially musicals, turn to it.We think about how to avoid it, and that's why we invented a therapy scene, conversation with a doctor, dioramas and puppets.We wanted to tell my life without having to resort to conventional material.
One of the featured characters in the film is David Lynch.Since when are you friends?Since you decided to include the "Twin Peaks" rope section (1990/91) in your first hit, "Go" (1992)?No, I met him about 2007.Of course, I loved his work since the first time I saw "Draft Head" (1977).I have always thought that he is one of the most inspiring directors and creators that one can think.I met him in London in 2007.We became friends, we organized some charitable events together, I spent Christmas at home ... I discovered that he is an adorable person.All the people who know him well will tell you the same thing: although his films are as dark, he as a person is the most cheerful guy you can find.Always bright and jovial.You end up asking how someone so cheerful is able to radiate so much darkness in their films.
In the documentary it is highlighted, as you already did in your first autobiographical book, that "Play" (1999) is the turning point in your career, with 12 million copies sold worldwide, something you did not expect or far away.You tried to repeat the formula with "18" (2002), but stayed at 4 million.Three times less.And then each album has been selling less.I have the feeling that you try to tell us that it is impossible to predict the behavior of the public, that nobody has the key to success, which is a capricious.And maybe, don't matter.Yes, I would say that is something that has been proven many times.All I can say is that, basically, I have succeeded when I didn't expect it at all.I have never been able to write a successful single intentionally.And when I tried, I have realized that I was not doing well.When I had commercially successful, it has been completely by accident.Part of this is because, when I was growing, the musicians and the bands that I liked were not commercially successful.In the early eighties, my favorite groups were Joy Division, Minor Threat or the Bad Brains.They are not the type of bands you imagine selling millions of records.I never thought I would have a record contract.Nor that would publish music that someone would want to buy or listen.One of my greatest mistakes was trying to succeed in the 2000.Because I'm very bad if I try.
Could you say that in the last fifteen years you only do the kind of records that you want, without repairing the public's expectations? Yes.In a way, it makes me think about my bald condition.I could piss the fact of not having hair, and submit to surgery, put on an implant.But there is something liberating to be bald.I am a medium -sized bald guy.And once you accept it, you feel free.When in the 2000 I accepted that I was not good to be a pop star, which was not good trying to write success songs, I also felt that freedom.Now I value the fact of being able to make music without worrying about whether it will be commercial or not.It is a luxury to be able to think like this.Because the commitments that would entail writing hits would be terrible.I have nothing against today's successful pop music, but I feel happy not to be part of it.Do you know the book "Death in Venice" (1912), by Thomas Mann?One of the themes of the novel is that old man who desperately tries to be young and attractive.And it is so much the work you have to do, and it reports so little, that it is not worth it.Well this is the same.If I tried to be a 21st century pop star, making records with 19 -year -old singers, and trying to be cool, it would be very sad.And would carry too much effort to end in such a sad position.You have to accept, and it is better like that, that I am a 55 -year -old bald that makes music that surely is no longer successful, but that allows me to focus on trying to do what I like.What, somehow, leads me to complete the circle going to my first days as a musician and to a thing David Lynch told me when I met him in London, in a installment of the Bafta awards: that creativity is beautiful.That affected me.Because it is a very simple phrase, but it reminded me that I did not become a musician to find out how I can have commercial success, but because I am completely in love with the ability of music to communicate emotion.I realized that my work was not to think about my place in the market, but try to create something beautiful, that I can communicate spirituality and emotion.That does not mean that I do not try, that I close to succeed.Only that is not the goal.
I would like to ask you, finally, about the last scene of the documentary, in which you appear - and I hope not to make anyone spoiler, because it is not essential to understand the argument - next to Wayne Coyne (Flaming Lips), both mariachis dresses,singing with many other people.We made a song together ten years ago, called.In the end we ended up on the roof of a building, and I told the cameras that it was a good time to set up a party.Together, I told myself.All the weirdos we were there, to sing the song in acoustic.And it was a beautiful moment.Forty people of the strangest, with the sun putting ... it was very special.Cheerful, surreal.For me it represented the perfect brooch for this movie.He made me think of Albert Camus, the author of "AL foreigner" (1942) and "La Plaga" (1947), because it is like the answer to the existential question that we all do: how in a universe that has fifteen millionyears and is, by definition, unbeatable, do we find meaning?And the answer could be that there is no.And the answer to that impossibility of finding meaning to all this, instead of depressing us, should be to get on a roof to dance with your friends.It would be a perfectly legitimate answer to that existential question.
In fact, it is a fairly jovial closure, which lightens the immediately previous scene, in which you speak directly with death.Well, the death scene is supposed to be funny.I don't know if you get to transmit (laughs).As strange as it can sound, death is the only thing we all have clear, and at the same time, the only thing we do not know.It is a paradox.The only guarantee in our whole life is that one day we will die, and at the same time it is the only thing we know nothing.Because nobody has returned to tell it.I find it fascinating.We can feel curious about her or be afraid of her, but it is a very beautiful natural system, which holds itself.That scene tries to look at death in a different way.