The relationship between music and other forms of art – painting, video art and cinema most importantly - has become increasingly important. How do you see this relationship yourself and in how far, do you feel, does music relate to other senses than hearing alone?
I think the connection has always been there, but maybe it’s important for musicians now more than ever because of the collapse of the music industry. Licensing music for film etc. is one of the few ways that musicians can still be paid for their work. For me on an inspirational level, I think music, art, literature, and cinema are all important streams that feed the same lake. Also I tend to be much more of a visual person than an aural one. I always have some little movie or set of images in my head when I’m working on a song.
There seem to be two fundamental tendencies in music today: On the one hand, a move towards complete virtualisation, where tracks and albums are merely released as digital files. And, on the other, an even closer union between music, artwork, packaging and physical presentation. Where do you stand between these poles?
I love that I’m able to access so much music with the click of a mouse, though I worry that this can make it all feel a little too easy and inconsequential. I think people’s desire for a physical object with artwork etc. is a reaction to this feeling of nothing existing in the real world anymore. I plan on releasing my upcoming record in the digital realm only to start.
The role of an artist is always subject to change. What's your view on the (e.g. political/social/creative) tasks of artists today and how do you try to meet these goals in your work?
Personally I don’t see my music as needing to fulfil some political or social obligation, so I’m not trying to meet any goals like that. It seems like it was different in previous generations when a major artist had the public’s ear, and could release something that made a meaningful political or social statement. I think there’s too much noise now for something like that to have the same impact.
Music-sharing sites and -blogs as well as a flood of releases in general are presenting both listeners and artists with challenging questions. What's your view on the value of music today? In what way does the abundance of music change our perception of it?
It’s possible that the value of music has been lessened to an extent. I think the abundance of music being made, and the ease of access makes it pretty difficult for anyone to pay attention to any one band, musician, or idea for very long. That being said, I know there are still folks out there who genuinely love and need music. As an artist, I have to believe it’s still possible to cut through the noise and touch someone with my work in a profound way. Whether they know it or not, I think people are desperate for something real and authentic that moves them.
How, would you say, could non-mainstream forms of music reach wider audiences?
It seems like the clearest path to a wider audience would be through an association with movies or television.
Usually, it is considered that it is the job of the artist to win over an audience. But listening is also an active, rather than just a passive process. How do you see the role of the listener in the musical communication process?
There isn’t much communication going on if someone is listening to your record. It’s more of a one-way conversation in that setting. Live I think there’s a bit of back and forth. If you’re playing a show, I think listeners usually make their feeling about your music apparent – whether those feeling are vocalised or not.
Reaching audiences usually involves reaching out to the press and possibly working with a PR company. What's your perspective on the promo system? In which way do music journalism and PR companies change the way music is perceived by the public?
I’m sceptical of the promo system sometimes, but I still feel like it’s an important part of the equation. I think now more than ever, the general public wants to be told where to direct their attention. This makes sense considering how many options people have at their fingertips. I do worry that this gives some media outlets and tastemakers out there a little too much sway though.
Please recommend two artists to our readers which you feel deserve their attention.
For current artists, I would say Father John Misty and Richard Swift. For older artists, I would say Raymond Scott and Mort Garson.
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