September 24, 2012

I've been out on my own
I've been getting what's mine

André Kertész, Pedaling, Paris 1948

* Marc Masters interviews Alan Licht about "Will Oldham on Bonnie Prince Billy," his fantastic book of his interviews of Will Oldham. excerpt:

Pitchfork: How do you think his acting experiences influenced his approach to music?
AL: It's interesting that he has no music training as far as I know, but he had very serious training in acting. In our conversations, he made it pretty clear that he was applying things that he learned in that training to how he went about being in a band and making music-- for instance, we touched on the idea of delivering lines in a song as being like delivering lines from a script. I think he realized that in music he can write his own script and do his own casting and control all these things that were beyond his control in acting situations.

"By listening to so much music by other people and working with many people, it puts him in line with everything that has come before him and will come after."
I related to that because I didn't come out of college being trained as a writer. I was a film major, but it turned out that was good training for writing books. With my previous book Sound Art: Beyond Music, Between Categories, I had to figure out how much of the story could I tell in the text, how much through illustration, and how much through sound on the accompanying CD. That is the sort of thing you think about when you are making a movie-- how much of the story you tell with dialogue, how much visually, and how much in the sound mix. So that's something we had in common-- we have both applied something we studied in one field to a different field.

Pitchfork: I found it interesting that he says he "came at [music-making] not as a creator but as an audience member," and still thinks of himself as a fan as much as a musician.

AL: When we were doing these interviews, he had his iPod playing the entire time. When I went on tour with him, there was always music playing in the van. He's probably listening to music right now, and he's not sitting there listening to his own records. For some musicians it becomes self-reflexive and they think, "I have to write some of my kind of songs now." I don't think he thinks like that. That's why I did that cosmological timeline in the back of the book, which starts with the discovery of surfing in the 18th century. The point is that Will's not an end in himself, he's one link in a variety of different chains-- part of a continuum. There are precedents for things that he's done and he's absorbed things from other people that have come out in a different way. By listening to so much music by other people and working with many people, it puts him in line with everything that has come before him and will come after.

* Lou Reed being classic Lou Reed as he grills Mark Josephson, co-director of the New Music Seminar while hosting a 1986 episode of MTV's 120 Minutes.

* "The songs are not meant to be real life. They're meant to have a psychic - rather than a factual - bearing on the listener. It's rare that a song grounded in reality moves me because I don't feel like I'm getting the whole story. Songs are made to exist in and of themselves, like a great James Jones or Robert Louis Stevenson novel - they're not autobiographical, and yet there's a reality in every single page. It's real life of the imagination.” -- Will Oldham


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