Shifting away from that, I know that you are really involved with your aesthetic, and I love how you have such a controlled one. I feel like every photo or video of a performance I see you’re wearing a red Adidas tracksuit, or at least something in the same shade of red. I was wondering how you approach your image, or if that’s kind of like an alter ego to you?
That’s funny ‘cause I feel like something that’s been really interesting, and slightly difficult for me, is making my stage personality more like my everyday personality. For instance, when I first started making music, they were very different. Kind of remarkably different because with my personality on stage, I wanted to be taken seriously. I wanted to be a serious artist, and I would wear the same outfit everyday, just like a black and white outfit. I would not wear anything flashy, for fear of not being taken seriously, like that was the level that I was thinking about this. In my normal life, I would be wearing bright colors, and I’d be loud and obnoxious and funny. I would never carry that on stage. I’d say over the years I’ve become slightly obsessed with having my music sound more like my personality. In fact somebody brought that up to me, it was a photographer friend who said he was kind of surprised when he heard my music for the first time. He was like, “It sounds so different from your personality.” He was tapping into something I was already feeling like I wanted to change, that has been a goal: trying to be more like myself on stage. So it is very accurate now.
That’s interesting because my next question was that you’ve come into your own sonically with this album, and with the videos, I was wondering what you think brought you to this place of more comfort with your image, and everything like that. Or is it hard to pin down?
I think the biggest thing is I’ve become more interested in dismantling my ego, and not taking things as seriously. The whole idea of being obsessed with being taken seriously, and the mentality of presenting myself as like The Artist with a capital A. I’ve really tried hard to dismantle that. Maybe this is something with experience, I guess, just seeing that things don’t necessarily have to be as sacred as you once thought they were, is liberating to me. Once I threw out that notion of being taken seriously, I realized that a lot of that is just kind of based in fear, and I have no control over what people think. People are going to think whatever they want to, and I’d rather just be fun, and have fun, and enjoy being onstage, and enjoy my music, and enjoy the feeling that it gives me, than try to say something that is so mind-alteringly important. I think that’s a little bit ridiculous and no artist is that important. Humility is taken for granted too much, and you know, I hate being preachy. I would hate if anyone interpreted any of my music as being preachy because I absolutely detest that. That’s kind of how I’ve transformed to where I’m at now. I think that anything I’m saying that might be important is something that I just feel on my own already. I’m just saying how I feel about things, and what I’m experiencing, and what my friends around me are experiencing. I’m just trying to tell a story. I’m not trying to do anything except for that.
I know that you studied architecture, and studied furniture making, and I was thinking about when I interviewed Angel Olsen and talked about making things in different mediums. I remember her saying that whether or not you’re making things in your main creative medium, you’re still gaining insight into whatever you’re most interested in. Could you speak a bit on this since you’re someone who’s experienced in a number of mediums?
That’s cool that you talked to Angel Olsen about her videos because she actually works with this cinematographer named Ashley Connor who I tried to get to work on my last video. She ended up being too busy, but I’d love to work with her, and Zia Anger, she also works with Angel on her videos–they’re kind of like a power team. I do agree with her, it ties into what we were talking about yesterday, and how with creativity you’re using similar parts of your brain, but in different ways. I do think that they’re all linked, even though some may be more mathematical, or some may be more physical, like dance, or something like that. I still think that you’re tapping into the same thing: you’re tapping into emotions, feelings, and thoughts. It’s all just a way of transcribing that into something that people can see or feel or hear. I think she’s right, I completely agree with her about that. Choreographing a dance, or not even choreographing it, but dancing to music and the way that my body moves, I’m still emitting and tapping into the same emotions that I might while making a song, or making a music video.
I think in making imagery there is a difference that’s pretty important. You can really bring out the humor in things that you wouldn’t be able to hear in music. That’s something that I’ve really jumped off from because I love that you can portray stuff that’s not impossible to do in music, but it’s difficult. Sarcasm is hard to get through in music, especially if you’re making pop songs, and you’re singing about something that’s pretty serious. Like the song “Getting To Me” is about being really lonely, but you wouldn’t necessarily be able to tell from listening to it because it sounds like a pop song. You have to really be listening to the words to know what I’m actually talking about. When you are putting visuals to that, you can make it so much more obvious what you’re trying to say, or if you don’t want to be obvious, you can show abstract visuals. The first thing that comes to mind is a screensaver that has somber colors: you can put that to the music, and make it seem so much more somber just by showing that imagery with a song that’s not necessarily somber-sounding. ♦