Thursday, July 22, 2010

Pitchfork Music Festival 2010

July 19, 2010

Friday, July 16

Liars [5:30 p.m.; Connector Stage]

Pitchfork: You guys were here four years ago. A lot's changed since-- do you have any fond memories from then?

Julian Gross: I do, I do. I remember Devendra played and had his shirt off.

Angus Andrew: Os Mutantes, that was exciting.

Aaron Hemphill: We were in the same dressing room.

JG: Yep, same dressing room. I remember the heat. It was brutal. I remember the heat on stage and feeling like I wanted to die.

AH: I think we were the only rock band.

Pitchfork: That was my other question. I guess there's Raekwon and Lightning Bolt, but [other] bands here are a summery, good vibes kind of thing. I like to think of the "The Overachievers" as the flip side of "My Girls" by Animal Collective. You're like, "Okay, we got the four walls and there's a darkness to it."

AA: I'm glad you're pointing that out because we feel in a darker corner than a lot of the other stuff that's been coming out. And so it's nice, I think, to be that one token sort of thing as opposed to sort of just being [part of] the flow.

AH: [We're glad] that distinction is communicated through our music. Because if we felt it and created according to it and failed to communicate, then I'd be sort of scared.

Pitchfork: Yeah, why do you think that is-- the good vibes thing? Things suck right now!

JG: That's why. I think it's just this cloud in your face. Like, "Oh what, what are you talking about, man? Everything's awesome. Everything's totally cool and stuff."

AA: We obviously do a lot of press out of the States. When we started making Sisterworld was when Obama got elected. I think [there] was a general euphoria that everyone felt. At the same time Prop 8 was rejected in California so there were protests on the street and I think that was a good marking point for what might be going on. Because people are still caught up in the idea that maybe we're on this higher road now because we elected Obama. But in reality it's still quite the opposite. I think that's what makes it really frustrating to hear celebratory music when on the ground or in the trenches-- as we say-- it's not quite as blimey.

JG: When music is happy and with the idea of everything being so easy to find, maybe happy music is just so popular because it's so easily attainable and if it's not happy, maybe you have to pay more attention and think about it a little bit more and maybe it bums you out a little bit. It seems like everything is geared towards this quickness.

Pitchfork: You guys are associated with so many different locations, be it Williamsburg or Berlin or L.A. Where's your guys' rehearsal space?

AA: In L.A., downtown. So we've been moving around a lot, but these guys are from L.A. so we all live there now and it's really working out quite good. It's a very interesting place.

Pitchfork: Your album, everybody harped on this, but you got the L.A. aspect. Are you guys still really interested in that dark side of L.A.?

AA: In this case what happens is you put out a record and then ideas start coming back to us and so you start to talk about more and it's a way to grow. The great thing about any art work is over time and a little bit of space, you can get another whole thing of the same one thing. It's been interesting trying to deal with this topic that we brought up, but it's good to talk about.

I think one of the things that we like to emphasize, even though we wrote it in L.A. and we were very inspired by what was going on there, I think we feel strongly that it's a universal thing and you could be living somewhere in Illinois and feeling equally isolated or alienated. I like to talk to a lot of people about that-- the connections-- in other places of the world. Because I think L.A., for us, is just this place full of people really shining off some of the things we know.

Pitchfork: You mentioned earlier you have some stuff you guys are working on that you might show off today.

AA: Why don't you talk about the cover we're going to do?

AH: Oh, we might try to do a cover and we're finding how we pull off some of the material and stuff like that. We're really into Bauhaus and stuff like that. Great band.

AA: We've always been talking about them and it's funny for us because right from day one they were a really big influence on us and it's never been talked about.

AH: You listen to their albums and how much territory they've covered and I feel that a certain degree of theatricality has prevented them from getting the sort of craze. They're notorious but I don't think that people should put them below the Cure or Siouxsie and the Banshees. I think that's terrible.

AA: It's really interesting. The Cure and Bauhaus is a good comparison because the goth thing is something that I think is troubling for people to swallow too. They've just made some fucking hit singles, didn't they?

AH: People are just getting more and more afraid of theatrical performance in music. I don't think they like the fact that it's a performance. I feel that "indie rock" prefix even uses this sincerity aspect. And I think people love shows that exclude performance or theatrical elements or ideas. Like in hip-hop, there isn't this tendency to suffocate that element. Or you have much more theatrical elements in hip-hop.

Pitchfork: There are people like Lady Gaga or of Montreal but maybe it's darker theatrics.

JG: Well I feel like there would have to be some sort of mental divide for people to accept certain theater and "indie rock," which is I guess evidence of the limitations of that name.

AH: Pavement pretty much paved the road for this type of thing with their whole stage set. Which, to me is still kind of-- they're like "Oh, we're going to dress normal on stage so it isn't a performance. It's just us being us." But that is still a stage persona. No matter what, you're telling something to these people. Whether you're dressed like of Montreal or Pavement, the idea is sort of still the same as uniform. You're on a stage, that's what that means.

Robyn [6:25 p.m.; Aluminum Stage]

Pitchfork: You're back in the U.S. What are you excited about?

Robyn: I'm excited to tour. I mean serious. I want it to feel real and authentic, even though it's pop music. I think the live thing is important for that because it brings a connection for people that I don't think a lot of times you get with pop music because you get it in big venues. But we're trying to do something more playful.

My audience is kind of the same everywhere. It's this weird mix of people. People that knew me from before, but also mixed with lots of new kinds of people. And it's the same thing here in America, which is so striking to like go to Berlin and then go to London and then go to New York and see the same kind of crowd.

Pitchfork: You were at Roskilde. I saw you there a couple years ago. They are so vocal in Scandanavia too, right?

R: That's the one place where-- actually in Sweden it's like that too. But I think Roskilde is the only place outside of Sweden where I get that kind of response, except for here. The UK, I've sold more records there than anywhere else but it's a different kind of audience. They're a little trickier but here it's just like [makes a noise] you know? Even if it's a small club, people are still into it.

Pitchfork: Recently you covered Alicia Keys. What do you like about her?

R: I like that song. It feels like she listened to Prince. I totally have those songs too where you hear Prince but she did it in this good way that I liked. So I just wanted to pick up on that you know?

Pitchfork: Can you talk at all about what's coming up?

R: I just finished mixing the next album. It's just kind of sent off to the factory. It has more of the traditional pop songs on there, but the productions are still in the same world as the first album [Body Talk, Pt. 1] so it's definitely connected. It's meant to even have a little connection back to like "Show Me Love" and stuff like that. It's not ducking from the pop thing at all. So it's full on, it's like [makes a noise].

Pitchfork: Who do you like in Sweden? Do you listen to anybody else? I mean the Knife you worked with before.

R: I listen to a lot of Swedish music actually. I'm really excited to hear Lykke Li's new album. I don't know what she's up to but I think that's gonna be really fun. There's a Swedish girl, a rapper called Mapei. She's done some stuff with Major Lazer and she's like a new-- it's always bad to compare people-- but she's like a new Neneh Cherry in a way.

There's also this production duo called Savage Skulls that I worked with on the new album. They are also kind of in that Major Lazer world. They really, like, took that into a Swedish kind of context and they're doing that kind of club dance music but it's very, very-- they're not afraid to go Euro or go kind of kitsch but in a really nice way. I really like them.

Pitchfork: What else are you excited about, being back in the U.S.? Is it different in any other way this time?

R: It's nice for me to come back and connect to what I built with the last album and the plan is to come back here and tour with every album so that it's a continuous thing. I hope to just build on what happened here the last time-- all the love I'm getting from this very natural place. It's not filtered through a pop industry that I don't feel connected to. It's really, really nice. I'm just enjoying it really.

Pitchfork: I guess that's what fascinates me, hearing you talk about it. I love, in a connection with Alicia Keys, when it feels really real but it's still accessible to everybody. There's not much music that's like that. What is it about that for you that really draws you to that kind of music?

R: I think that when that happens, when that real thing is there it isn't about the genre anymore. It's more about the sincere pop quality and I think for me that's what I always drove for when I listened to music, whether it's like the things I grew up with like KLF or Technotronic or Neneh Cherry or if it's things that are going on right now. I think that's what it is to me, and it's never about the commercial pop perspective, it's about the place it comes from and the artist that does it.
Saturday, July 20

Panda Bear [7:25 p.m.; Connector Stage]

Pitchfork: Do you feel like you're only in competition with yourself at this point as far as your albums?

Noah Lennox: Always. I mean, even before the past couple years. I think about it a lot like golf. Where you may be playing on different courses, so the terrain is slightly different, but you're always trying to beat yourself. Play better.

Pitchfork: Are you able to talk about this upcoming album, Tomboy, at all? Obviously we've heard your singles, and I guess you've talked about it a little in the past, but how are you feeling this is going to be different from Person Pitch?

NL: As far as like a stylistic shift, I'd say it's less than something like Young Prayer to Person Pitch. But I'm anticipating a lot of people kind of thinking it's crappy, 'cause it's different enough to sort of bum people out who really liked the last one, you know what I mean? I guess I feel like I want to keep the thing moving. If I was like, "I really like the last thing I did, so I kinda just want to slightly expand on that," I feel like that would be kind of like treading water, in a way. Which is fine, but at this point in time it's not really what I'm interested in doing.

Pitchfork: Everybody else is treading that same water right now, it feels like. A guy in his bedroom, using some samples and being kind of nostalgic, and pretty music. Ambient, electronic influence, you know? How do you feel about that stuff?

NL: I think the first thing I would say is that I would guess that for the vast majority of those people, maybe it's not treading water. I'm assuming it's kind of like they're doing something new for them. I feel like that's justified from that perspective. I guess I'm just not the kind of person who likes to hate on anything. I'm surely not gonna look down on something just because I feel like it sounds like somethings else, or fits into a group of things that all kind of sound more or less the same. I may not get as jazzed by it as something that just kind of confuses me. I feel like everything just kind of serves its purpose. Everything has its place, I should say.

Pitchfork: Is there anything you've been listening to lately that's worth mentioning?

NL: In high school I was really into classic rock radio, maybe just because it was the most readily available thing. That and like the Top 40 of the time, which was the 90s, I guess. In a lot of ways I feel like, in terms of life cycles, if such a thing exists, that's definitely where I am mentally. Sort of like, early high school zone for me, maybe late middle school. A lot of [the new] songs-- I doubt it's very apparent-- I feel that sort of 90s R&B.

There's this certain kind of shaker sample that was used a lot, like C+C Music Factory employed it quite a bit, and I've been really into that. You know that EMF song? With the Dice Clay sample in it? That has the same kind of drum sample I'm talking about out. I've been really into that. I feel like I just ingested that and spit it out in a way that you probably wouldn't be able to know. On "Slow Motion", for example, it's there a little bit. But certainly that zone of music is what's in my head. I said to Danny [Perez, visual artist and collaborator - Ed.], "I feel like I'm into barbecue music these days." Like really slow, mellow... Dâm-Funk is a good kind of example of what I'm talking about. It's just not high-energy music, I'd say. [scrolls through mp3 device] Robert Lester Folsom-- Music and Dreams. That's probably my most listened to record.

Pitchfork: Any plans for your birthday? [Noah's birthday was this weekend -Ed]

NL: Not really. I have to say, I'm sort of dreading what my guys have planned for me. Because I'm pretty sure they're gonna do something, gonna find some way of embarrassing me. I'm kind of bracing for impact at this point. If my wife and my kids were here, I couldn't ask for anything more. But just having a bunch of my bros around is a pretty good start, a pretty good birthday I would say.

Pitchfork: Sweet. So, for the show tonight, what's the set-up going to be? Is it just you up there?

NL: Yeah, it's just me. For better or for worse. Danny will be doing video. That's a big part of the show, as far as I'm concerned. I feel like it's not very interesting to watch, I'm not much of a showman. So having something interesting to look at, and something that works with the music. I feel like it's an integral part to my show.

Pitchfork: Any surprises up your sleeve?

NL: I would guess that the only surprise to people who wouldn't have known about my shows in the past six months or so, or maybe shows with Animal Collective, is that nine-tenths of the show will be all based on unrecorded songs. That's probably the biggest surprise.

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