(Hang onto your seats kids, this interview’s a scorcher!  Kudos to Jeremy for getting all this down in black and white–Ed.)
Is it still fun?

It’s OK. Now that it’s here [our interview], I’m over the hump. It’s a bummer. Right? The last one was the end of the fun. Now I’m angry, and I blame you.

We can just go home.

I used to live here so I don’t mind.

You used to live in this hotel?

Yes. Really.

I didn’t know that.

Two months out of the year. Well, I was homeless.

In the Tribeca Grand Hotel?

And I would DJ here for New Years, and I would trade the DJ set of money for two months of room.

That’s a good deal

Yeah, ‘cuz I lived on an inflatable mattress in my office. So for two months, I lived my dream. I would walk around in the Tribeca Grand robe with the Tribeca Grand mug. [Pantomimes.] I’d be like, “Daniel.” “Mr. Murphy?” “Daniel?” Anybody here to see me?” “Yes there’s somebody over there.” And I’d do interviews, and it was my favorite thing to do years ago, and I was like, “where do you want to do interviews?” That’s why it’s here right now. We didn’t know where to do it. But because of that, I didn’t know where to do it, because we couldn’t do it at DFA very well ‘cuz there’s a studio thats got a session in it and an office that’s got work going on. So it’s like, there’s no where to go without getting in people’s way. And people kept being like, we’ll do it at DFA and I was like, I don’t have an office, I have a desk in a room full of people who are working.

Did you move it after EMI?

No, it’s always in our office, no. Jesus, we’re not like a subsidiary. We have a distribution deal. It’s very simple. Although it’s funny that people don’t know.

No, that’s just me

No, I think people in general. No, your very average. No, I lived here, and they’d be like, “where do you wanna have the interview?” And I was like, “I dunno, how ’bout the lobby of the Tribeca Grand?” And then I’d cruise down in my robe. And they’d be like, “do you live here?”

Naw, I just dress like this.

No. I’d be like, “I’m just staying here.” They’re like, “why are you staying here? You live in New York.” And I’d be like, “yes.” And they’d be like, “well, where do you live?” “In my office, so I live here. I had a plastic turntable plugged into the little stereo over there [points towards bar]… It was hot.

[As I stumble through some typed up questions]Why didn’t you print it out? Have you ever heard of a pen?

I don’t own a pen. I lost my last one a couple years ago.

That’s so sad. Pens don’t have battery problems. I’m trying to get EMI to buy me [a new MacBook Powerbook] because I want to use it for webcasting. I’m going to get the Powerbook because it’s got [low evil villain voice] POWER IN THE NAME. [We agree that the black one looks cooler.]

Do you not like Tortoise?

I don’t.

Why don’t you like Tortoise?

I have a rational dislike. To be fair to them, they’re not bad dudes. You know Dave Pajo is nice. The bass player from Dream Day is nice. To me they represented a moment that was bad for me and I think it’s unfair to them.

A personal thing?

I was friends with the Jesus Lizard, Six Finger Satallite, Laughing Hyenas, and then Tortoise came out and the party. was. over. Before that it was a little confusing: is David Yow going to kick you in the balls or make out with you? Are Six Finger Satellites Nazis? Everything was a little confusing, and then all of a sudden it was like, “You, bookish nerdy guy who collects Terry Riley records: You are correct. And everybody else is wrong.” And it was a bunch of dudes like… the emperor does have beautiful clothes but you’re like, “the emperor is naked!” But you’d be beaten to death by like the throng of fucking like people buying Tony Conrad records.

It sounds like Pitchfork marching in or something- the music nerd.

But Pitchfork is the post-new music nerd. I feel like they get it. Like, some of them are like the grumpy guys. You know, like, “girls don’t like me so I hate you.”

They can write really mean reviews.

Right, but music needs mean reviews.

And they’re funny.

Yeah, and if it’s funny, it’s funny. It’s good art. Funny can be good art. But I think a lot of it is, they get it; they’re aware that ‘grumpy dude’ is also a stereotypical bullshit trope, and I’m down because of that.

I feel bad because I don’t mean to pick on Tortoise. They were just the nuclear bomb that laid waste to the last vestiges of diversity in rock. Other than that. Well, they can’t be blamed. I love Slint, love Slint. Britt Walford’s a dear friend of mine, but Slint did a lot of damage, OK, because it was time to look at the floor and sing quietly about boats.

On musical diversity in general… right now, you feel like the field is–?

Well, no. I feel like the field is a bunch of micro-genres, I hate that.

Is that the Tortoise bomb?

Well, the Tortoise bomb was like… Everyone was like, “Oh, you guys rock? That’s crass.” I was like WHOAA. That’s the Tortoise bomb. Like ten minutes ago, Jesus Lizard rocked, and you were gonna stab yourself in the eye with a chair.

That was the moment everyone was like, “Sorry, we don’t like noise, and yeah yeah yeah, turn it all down and get the vibes out, bring out the marimbas.” This is adult contemporary…

You know, it was that bass line where it goes “boo doo dood dood bud bud” [Ed: No idea, actually], and I was like, this could be the bass line on the Kenny G- this this is adult contemporary music! …Bummer.

Yeah I read about your Tortoise issues in your interview with Nick Sylvester…

Nicky S, ashamed journo. He’s the best, he’s a friend of mine. I love Nick Sylvester. When he got raked over the fire, I was like, “Fuck all of you.” I was like, “Oh really? He made shit up? Since the Village Voice is the pinnacle of journalistic excellence? Like the back of your newspaper is basically like ‘saw you on the train, totally wanna fuck, call me.’”

In that interview, you said, “I’m not wandering under a banner of originality, or a myth of no influences. There’s no purity in what I’m doing. It’s not that relevant.” What about people making new music?

I don’t mean to be like that. I’m really not dismissive of new music. The truth is, I sometimes don’t listen to new music because I’m on tour and a lot of it’s not for me, and I don’t mean it’s not for me. I mean, it’s actually not made for me. Like, if you’re in the studio and you’re Interpol, it’s a bad idea to sit and be like, “Hey, what would James Murphy like?” Bad idea. That music’s not for me. Don’t make it for me, because I’m not going to go for it. Arctic Monkeys is a great example. When they came out, I was like, I saw it, and I was like, “Ok, I’ve seen this before to a certain degree, but you know, of the choices that a 14-year old in England has of a new young band, this is great. This is brilliant. Of the choices that somebody has. It would be sort of like, I don’t want to say to me at 13, “Oh you like the Violent Femmes? Maybe you should listen to Jonathon Richman and the Modern Lovers and there’s nothing wrong with the Violent Femmes, they were great, and you know, who knows what [The Arctic Monkeys] are going to turn into. They could be totally amazing. Go them. It’s not really for me. It’s not music for me and that’s ok. I recognize that.

Do you ever feel yourself borrowing from your contemporaries?

No.

So it’s a feeling that–

I feel like the concept of contemporary music right now is virtually laughable. Meaning nothing… Like there are individuals who make interesting things, and some of them are, I think, people might be surprised, people who view me as very very grumpy- might be surprised of who I think does interesting things. I think Arcade Fire are a good band, and I think when you go see them live, you can smell it. They’re not posing the same way that the 13 other bands before them and the 13 after are posing. They look different. They feel different. They smell different, and they are different. I’m not saying it’s exactly for me either. But I like it. I do totally respect it.

Devendra Banhart, you know, total easy whipping boy. It’s so easy, I could just sit there and be like, “his vocals sound like early Tyrannosaurus Rex Marc Bolan. He dresses like Hibiscus from The Cockettes,” but it’s like, is that really a problem? Are we really like, “Man I’m so fed up with guys in dresses with beards and make up that dress like Hibiscus from The Cockettes from the early 70′s in San Francisco and sing like pre-Tyrannosaurus Rex Marc Bolan when it was just acoustic guitar and conga.” Is that really a glut? Are we really drowning in this? It’s like, “Great. Fucking go for it. Go for it, balls out.” It is like a genre that’s undermined. And I don’t mean undermined, I mean, like- under–

Excavated.

I’m down, you know what I mean? Antony and the Johnsons. I think Antony Hagerty is an unusual, unique person with a real point of view, and you can hear it- a voice, and it’s a rare thing, and you know, “Hope There’s Someone,” is a shockingly good song, single or not, great choice of video, it’s beautiful and it’s timeless, and I think that the music that I like now, I’m interested in new things and that’s why I like dance music because dance music, by definition tends to be like, “Slump slump slump slump innovation slump slump slump slump slump innovation,” and you know, it’s more contemporary, and I like Hot Chip, but what I like about Hot Chip isn’t really its newness, it’s its great song writing and beautiful voice. Alexis [Taylor] could play acoustic guitars and sing those songs with glockenspiel and I would buy it.

You know. A lot of things I like are a certain way. This is an era where we already had abstract expressionism.

So everything’s done.

So we’re done.

Atonal-

We had music concrete at the beginning of the fuckin’ last century, like a hundred years or more.

It’s popular music it’s appropriating- the high/low bullshit.

But I like that argument. I think that’s a relevant argument. It’s not like that’s an easy thing. You can say, You can’t call this high and that low and then be like, yes, [smug aristrocrat's voice] “Let’s eat,” but it’s an interesting argument. I find myself, maybe it’s the New Yorkness, maybe it’s living here, I find pop music crass, but I’m ok with it. I like Justin Timberlake, guilty pleasure, it’s not even that guilty anymore, Shins are number two, we got our indie rock, go Garden State, check. Indie rock and blog rock… block… I guess- white nerd male- super straight music, I think, is really provincial. You might as well be jocks calling kids fags. It’s got a bunch of rules and it’s about who’s cool, and even if you think you’re a nerd and you can’t possibly be playing the cool game, because you’re just this fat drunk loser that girl’s don’t like, you are playing the cool game, and you’re playing it in a desperate way, and you’re being an asshole, and fuck you. You think you’re good for music? You really care? Because what you are is a judgemental cunt. I have no patience for it really. I drowned in that when those kids were listening to Nine Inch Nails in their 8th grade bedrooms.

You’ve worked with Trent Reznor, you’d said for a while you wanted to–

Well, I don’t know, that guy’s so weird.

Totally weird.

I don’t understand- there’s something kind of astonishing about his aesthetic.

13-year old mindset body builder.

Yeah, scary. But we did a remix of him and apparently he really likes DFA stuff. Everyone was like, he did a song that sounds like you, and I was so tired of hearing that somebody did a song that sounds like me and I listened to it, I was like, “Dude, it’s just a song. It doesn’t sound like me,” and then I heard his song where he’s like… “I’m losing my… sense of self” [Ed: versus "my edge"], and I was like–

It was literally like a long monologue over a distorted funky bass and I was like, “Wow, hey, go you,” but I dunno, I’m curious about dudes like that.

Escaping, (to quote you), miasmic indie rock judgement?

I make jokes about this stuff, and I did an interview, this is very funny, did an interview the other day and somebody was asking me kinda personal questions like, “What was it like being a kid, what was your childhood like?”

Interesting. Invasive.

But I was OK with it. He asked me what were you like listening to music. Were there other kids, were you part of a group of kids, and I was like… I really wasn’t, and I started thinking.. there were three moments in life when I took a chance socially. And when I was little, I was fine. I was a happy kid. I was a weird kid, but when you’re little, you’re weird. You don’t know the rules and–

Hopefully.

I used to- the way I thought about stuff, I thought was normal, and later on I realized- I used to lie in front of the refrigerator and listen to the hum of the refrigerator and sing, and I have three dominant melodies that are just in my head, and they’ve been in my head since I was- I tried to say this, I don’t know how to describe this stuff. I think of this stuff as really mundane, but I don’t know how to describe it with words that don’t sound archly, ridiculously pretentious. They’re melodies that I feel I was born with. Not that I feel like, I don’t feel like I wrote them, because I know what writing music- I mean I was like born with them- I mean like dreams, they kind of just come out of you and they happen and it’s more like that… These were like music dreams.

Sort of like language when you’re that young.

And I’m like sitting there and I sang these little notes and they’re all based on the 60-cycle hum and I have this real attachment to humming machines always had it. When I sit in a room, and there’s a humming machine in America, I just start singing it out loud. It’s just what I’ve always done, and at certain times, I’ve added words to these melodies and they’d just cycle and cycle and cycle and that’s how I write music still.

Have you ever used those specific melodies?

No no, I wouldn’t. To me, it’s the difference between writing a book and publishing diaries. I wouldn’t publish my diaries. I’d write a book, but I wouldn’t publish my diaries. And that’s kinda what it’s like. These are like, I’d just feel really weird about it.

Exposed.

It’d be sort of like having a picture of my wife on my record. It’s just not right, in a way that I can’t put my finger on exactly. But it just seems wrong. But you know, I was kinda a weirdo kid, but I got away with it ‘cuz I was big. I couldn’t tie my shoes until I was in second grade. Didn’t think it was a problem because no one picked on me, because I was fucking huge. I was just a happy, blonde, blue-eyed athlete kid, you know, talking about my feelings and not being picked on because if somebody picked on me I’d beat them mercilessly and they’d be like, “OK, everybody can be sensitive if they want to.” And then 8th grade came when kids suddenly became mean, and I kept watching two kids would be best friends, boys or girls, and they would be playing Dungeons and Dragons together, and it’d be one kid’s birthday and the kid would be the best friend at the birthday and everyone else would go home but the one kid would be the stay-over sleep over friend and then like one of those kids would get tall or play baseball, or be in the cool club that never existed before, and all of a sudden there’s the cool club, and then there’s five kids picking on the other kid, and that one kid’s one of them, and then the kid on the ground is being picked on and is crying and being like, “You were my best friend! You’re a jerk!” [James Murphy begins to cry]. And the other one’s going like [goofy jock cackle] “Hehheh.” He’s embarrassed about it, but he doesn’t know what to say and then there’s always that one mean James Spader kid and he’s like, “What, you gonna cry about it, faggot?” And you’re like, “What the fuck?” Everyone drank the Kool Aid and went bonkers at about age 12.

Where were you in that scenario?

I was just like, “WHOA.” I literally, I felt like being in a movie where everyone’s been brained washed and your whole family’s like, “Hi what’s your name guy?” You’re like, [squeaky voice], “Mom! It’s me!”, and she’s like, [creepy deep-womaned voice] “Nice to meet you. I’m Roberta.” And you’re like, “Ahhehhh,” and the room spins.

It was literally the most devastating- and I fought for it. I became this bully killer. My father eventually forbade me from punching. I was allowed to wrangle. When I was in tenth grade, I was 6″, 210 lbs. I was this huge 14 year-old. I was tall as all the tall kids and as big as all the big kids but the tall kids were like [voice crack] “Heyey” and the big kids were like, [caveman voice] “Urrr.” So I looked like a grownup.

So you didn’t have the indie rock complex.

It took me until I got out of high school and came to New York to understand the mentality of the beleaguered, picked on punk kid.

It was alien to you.

Alien to- Well, if someone called me names they were new. They’d moved in, they were like, it was like prison. Like, “I gotta beat somebody up so I have respect. I’ll pick on the faggot kid in The Smiths shirt,” and one of his friends would be like, “Oh, you wanna pick on him? Live it up.” And go get his shit kicked out of him.

So I went to New York and I had to learn about this stuff second hand. That period, it literally fucked me up for years and years and years. Like 15, 16, all those years, I was just like in a crazy funk where I was trying to find meaning in life.

It’s around then…

No, but I was just depressed. I had lots of friends but I had no clique. I was friends with the popular kids. I was friends with the dirt bags. And I wasn’t picked on, so I kinda got through, but by not being part of any kind of clique, I managed to be a pretty normal guy with a very weird outlook because everybody has a clique, everybody has a group of friends, period, everybody.

It makes sense taking the psychology of high school out of-

Yeah, it never stops. I moved to New York and I was so lonely. I was a lonely kid and I wanted friends who listened to music with me who I could talk to and I came to New York and I was like, “Mannn, everyone knows this cool music and then I’d find out that people that I thought were my friends were talking behind my back like “James isn’t a real punk rocker, he used to listen to Susan [sic] and the Banshees,” and I’d find out a year later, they’d be like, “He used to say all this shit about you,” and I’d be like, “What do you mean I’m not a real- maybe I’m not a real punk rocker… what does that mean?” I thought it was OK to like Jonathan Richman and Big Black and Echo and the Bunnymen and The Violent Femmes and the B52′s and Minutemen and Kraftwerk… I thought that was OK. It was all weirdo music where I came from. It was all identical because there was no scene.

That is “acceptable”, now, at least.

Well, now to a certain degree, because the clique has absorbed it.

Is that your fault?

No. Well, maybe. But indie rock was the second time I tried. I tried and I was happy and then it killed me.

Indie rock is obviously scene-conscious, but so is DJing. There’s a coolness to that that’s obviously–

There’s a difference.

What’s the difference?

There’s a huge difference. When you play in indie rock, if you’re out of context, you’re fucked. If you’re like, [quavering indie boy voice] “Oh… hhhey everybody. Sorry I’m a little bit late. Man. Hope every thing’s cool… hhhey… Be cool. Um. And I’m going to play this song, and sorry, sorry. I’m a little out of tune. Sorry.” [second quavering indie boy voice] “Hhhey, man. Don’t worry about it.”

Out of context people’d be like [jock voice] “Faggot!” You’d get your head kicked in. [back to the quaver] “I’m sorry!” …It doesn’t work unless everyone’s like, “We all agree about the same aesthetic choices. Thanks man, this sounds like Alex Chilton.” But like, DJing, you walk in, and you’re like, “I’m not trying to tell you about my feelings. I’m trying to make you have fun, and if I don’t respect your taste, I’m fucked, and I’m an asshole.”

That just seems like another set of rules.

And if I just pandered you, I’m a douchebag. But somewhere in there, I’m respectful enough to you that you’re gonna dance and not feel like I’m looking down on you and being a cocky asshole. And then I’m gonna try and find some things to say like, “I respect what you like, and this is what I like, that you maybe never heard before,” but it’s not coming from snotty guy, its actually like, “I just played “Around the World” for you, and now we’re gonna play this song that kinda might make you think of that…” But you know what I mean? There’s something to it. It’s just as dumb and there’s just as many douchebags and assholes in it, but I feel like there’s something simpler about its goal- make you dance, have fun. Whereas indie rock doesn’t have that goal. Indie rock, what’s the goal? The goal there is no goal. The goal is this abstract, express-my-thing-that-really-boils-down-to-do-my-thing-in-a-way-that-allows-you-to-continue-to-think-I’m-cool-but-contrary-enough-that-you-think-I’m-not-just-watering-it-down-talking-about-feelings thing. It’s much more self-indulgent, and it much more requires people to be like, “Yes, indulge yourselves for us.”

There’s a precision to DJing.

It’s more like being a plumber. I got into it because I hated music. I gave up on music, and then I was like, “You know what?” I fucking hated dance music my whole life. I always thought all those C+C Music Factory or “I Got the Power”- when anyone was playing dance music all I ever heard was [impression of a distorted bass thumping out those quarter notes...]. And I was like, “Oh, get this off of me.” And then I started researching about it and learning about its history. It’s kind of like, if you thought about American punk rock as modern emo or something like that and you were like, “This is retarded,” and then someone was like “here’s the story of Minutemen” and you’d be like, “Ohhhh this is actually made by people who had no context, and these people that made it out of no context were just these really genuine dudes trying to do their thing. It was actually this really long history that has nothing to do with what I think about punk rock.” Or listening to modern hip hop and being like, “This is retarded,” and someone being like, “Well, let me tell you about the block parties and Kool Herc,” and like, “Ohh, there’s actually this really beautiful history that has to do with happiness and looking for joy under really dire circumstances and disco…”

Is there anything out there that’s still fresh?

No, I don’t think that’s possible. And I think that’s OK. I think that’s not what we’re here for. In other words, in the vein of Warhol, people could say, “Is there any pure artist left?” and the answer would be, “No, and who cares?” You find you’re not supposed to be, it would be a fraud. Music isn’t fresh. And that’s OK. If you accept it doesn’t mean you have to give up. There’s another thing about music. In other words, art wasn’t fresh, but there were other things about it that were fresh. Art as commerce, art as reproduction. What’s the difference between reproduction and originality?

Remix vs sampling…

I was a kid in a small town who bought weird music and got pretty incredible records that blew my mind and changed my life, but also there was pop music that reached through, and I’m thinking a lot about Laurie Anderson and I remember I saw Laurie Anderson on the fucking Muppets- on The Muppet Show, and I’m like, “You need to be kidding me! This is crazy! Fucking Lou Reed’s crazy wife, this sort of beautiful, sort of mannish ice cold expressionless woman, with the Muppets?” The world was filled with possibility at that moment. It wasn’t just glossy–

Elvis Costello was on Saturday Night Live. Interesting things were always poking through. You got the sense that you only saw little glimpses and moments. You got the sense- I don’t think you get the same sense now. You don’t have crazy people poking through.

I mean Outkast had their moment but I think there was something really different that happened that was really sad- Outkast broke my heart. When I saw Outkast coming on strong with “Bombs Over Baghdad,” I was so excited. I was like, “Finally! What a fertile landscape of hip hop that isn’t macho! What a wide open- that’s just, out, like out on the field there’s nobody out there- you can run around the bases six times. And here’s this guy who’s so charismatic, kinda almost camp, kinda like a glammy Bowie rapper. I so fucking love this dude and I was waiting to see what hip hop would do and hip hop went, “ROWR [cat noise], Andre’s crazy!” And I was like, “Noo!” [covers face] And what I think happens now, as opposed to everything being a challenge, like The Rolling Stones put out a 7″ and The Beatles put one out and The Rolling Stones put another out and The Beatles put out, and this goes week after week, and The Beatles would be like, “Well, how do you like me now?!” And The Rolling Stones would be like “Awwrrrr,” and you would have to be everything to everybody.

Bowie’s sitting there trying to eat the head of Iggy Pop, suck the blood of Lou Reed, devour oh rarwwwrrr, you know? Like trying to be everything to everyone, wanting to be as tough, as scary as and weird and crazy as Lou and as beautiful and magnetic as Marc Bolan and then fuckin Bryan Ferry nipping at his heels, being weirder and darker and lefter, and it makes for huge failures and beautiful records and made for desparate moves. Alright, I’m not sure if I’m being smart if you look at it now of course it’s a great idea, but imagine being in that frickin’ room with the fuckin bass player who’s not a glam dude, the bass player’s a fuckin bass player, like a footbal fan and Bowie’s like, [posh Bowie accent] “What we’re going to do is we’re going to seem gay, and we’re gonna be from Mars.” And the guy’s like, “Dude, fuck you.” It all looks great in retrospect, but there’s still that moment where everyone’s like, “Your career is over. Your retarded. What’s with the orange hair? Where’re your eyebrows?”

Even with me, I feel like I get it, like people are like, “Wow… DFA. They’re bonkers. They’re just doing their thing, you know anyway, here’s my shitty band remix I did on my laptop.” and I’m like, what the fuck? I’m desparate for a talent, and I wanna go play a show and have some kid be like, “Hey what’s up old man? Ready to retire?” And I’ll be like, “AHH! I’m desperate!” I’ll be like, “I got a wife!” I’ll be like, “Thank you! Here’s my guitar. Go play. I’ve got a dog to walk. I don’t need to be doing this shit.” But it’s like so true. They walk up and they’re like, [whimpy indie dude voice] “Hhhey, I hope you like our band.” And I’m like, “Have you learned nothing??”

You don’t pose at all?

No. It’s this desperate thing just to get through the set. We make it so hard just to get through it. Alright, there’s a great moment where I decided I liked Thom Yorke. Around Kid A. I saw him on SNL and I was like, what’s Thom Yorke going to do? You can see him being like, “I don’t know what to do with myself and I want go get into it.” He seemed desperately trying to will himself to be into it, and shake himself around so much until maybe he’d forgot how uncomfortable he is being the singer on SNL, and I was like, “You know what? This was a failure. And I’m so happy it happened, because he could just have been like, ‘Fuck this. Fuck SNL. I hate this.’” I was just like, because he’s been congratulated for being Thom Yorke for too long, he needs a challenge, and Coldplay ain’t that challenging, and that’s the thing about Coldplay, the guy’s talented–

You’ve said he’s more talented than Paul McCartney.

Paul McCartney’s a hack! But he wrote McCartney 1, McCartney 2. He did a crazy record- he came from an era when being rock musicians was fucking reason for a heart attack and he was also a pop star and he was like, “I’m a pop star and all my friends are on acid.” Who would do that now? Chris Martin could be great. He’s got a beautiful voice. He can say what he wants, and he does, and he writes melodies that burn into your brain, and they do and he sings about …colors. [covers his face in disgust] Ahhhhhrhhhh… It’s not good enough. And it’s not good enough that you know it’s not good enough and that kills me, and that’s acceptable. You know, we try and, “Sorry, sorry!” I don’t want an apology. I want a fucking record. You’re a rock star. Let’s go.

What about your lyrics. Why do you write them the day you record them?

Otherwise I’m too clever for my own good. Too complicated. I just get too smarty pants. I don’t think they get better. Over-thinking destroys thinking for me. I can’t paint, because it happens too slow, and I’ve never been able to be good at it because I belabor it too much, and I think whatever could have been good about me is devoured by my doubt, and I’ve been learning over years and years and years to let myself through a little bit, and give myself a break, not to give myself, to make it easier, but give myself a break like, it’s a weird thing that wants you to destroy- the bullshit part of your gut is telling you it’s actually OK, that’s acceptable, and when I do lyrics quickly, I have a greater tendency to allow those uncontrolled moments to come through, and I just find it works better for me. I find that I don’t like- I don’t belabor it. I don’t try to glue it all together quite as much I just make sure that I’m not singing anything that feels vague, it has to be specific. And I can do that better if I write it right then and sing it while I’m writing it, make little modifications really quickly, then nail it, and be like, I’m done. I don’t want to think about this anymore.

Mostly, the songs I write are perspective songs, and that’s what I’ve come to realize, and after years of answering, “Why does this song go like this? Are you actually making fun of yourself? Or other people?” And I started going like, “It’s not really about me. I’d write what it’s about and I’d be fine. And it was imagined as a story not an essay and people are like, “Wow, you really made fun of those fucking jerks!” And I’m like, “Yeahhh… I hate Williamsburg… Wow, I’m gonna show those white twenty to thirty something, you know people that have college degrees and work in music or art or entertainment or media… like me.” And I don’t have anything against any of them individually, I just don’t like drowning in the same person, because I feel like I’m in a college. I feel like I’m- why do I live in New York? I moved to New York so I could learn about the old time New York, like the thirty year old living with his mom, like, [guido accent] “Maaa! MAAA! Shut the hell up Ma!” Or the old gay couple who was there from Stonewall who have no patience for the new guy who moved in upstairs and the whole reason the neighborhood is nice is because they were there. That’s what I moved here for. Now I go to a party and a bunch of guys with army jackets and little army hats and a badge-

Do DFA parties feel like that?

They never felt like that before. When we started DFA, I was 29. A bitter indie rock guy. I went out and went to a David Holmes show with Tim [Sweeney of DFA], that’s where I met Tim, and David would do a little DJ party once a week in a basement, underneath a more shiny dance club above. He would DJ all the records that we were all using as references. I’d bring in my Can, my Liquid Liquid, and he’d bring his records in and Tim would bring records in and David would take all of them and try to steal them… DJing… I would have a couple drinks and I’d be like this is cool… Someone was like, “Hey, we got some e today, we’re gonna drop some e, and I was like OK!” And two hours later I’m losing my marbles, I’m peaking on e, “Tomorrow Never Knows,” my favorite song as a child, my number one Beatles song when I was nine, I was just like [high pitched noise] “Eeawaa!” And I’m dancing and I’m like, “Wow, it’s not the drugs, it’s me, and I’m like freaking out like a 15-year old at his first rave. And after that, I was like, “I’m done. This is amazing.”

I would try to go dance at dance music clubs and I like that too, there’s something about that that I like too. This was in 2000. I didn’t even listen to [dance] until ’99, but 2000, going out dancing with my friend Marcus [Lambkin], Shit Robot, is DJing, he’s the guy who taught me how to DJ, he’s an incredible DJ but he’s DJing some music that could be better, we became friends because he hated me, because I was a rock dude and he was this dance douchebag and he’d be like, “Well, I like UNKLE, and I like this,” and I’d be like, “Dude, this is Silver Apples.” and he’d be like, “UNKLE.” And I’d be like, “I beg to differ.” And I’d bring in Silver Apples and he’d be like “…Oh.” And he’d be like “What about this?” “That’s Can.” And he’d be like “What about this?” That’s Liquid Liquid.” So he suddenly respected me because I knew all the source material for all the dance music he liked. So we became great friends. I used to go drop two e’s at his party on the chelsea piers outside on the Hudson and Dan would be next to me and I’d be like “Damn, somebody just drop Iggy and the Stooges right now? Everybody would lose their mind.” I was really optimistic. I was on e. And I really believed this was gonna work, so I started DJing.

And I didn’t want to DJ at punk rock clubs. I wanted to DJ at dance clubs. I’m fucking happening in on Stooges, and people literally wanted to kill me. They didn’t freak out in a good way. They were like, [B&T guido voice] “I paid fuckin’ money to be here on a fuckin’ Saturday night man, so play me some fucking techno you fucking asshole, or I climb your fucking DJ booth and I’ll beat your fucking head in,” And I was like [shouting over loud music voice] “Dude, no it’s all dance music! Don’t you understand that rock and roll started as dance music? There’s this great article man, about like, how it wasn’t ’til people started taking chairs away from rock shows that people started to feel the audience thing. You know what I’m saying?” “I don’t know what the fuck you’re saying, but I’m gonna kill you.”

You can’t just go roaring into the Stooges, so what can you do? I’ll play “I Feel Loved” into “Numbers” by Kraftwerk, you know? Finding ways to communicate. Obviously, I was completely high at the time. It was difficult to do that until we started doing DFA parties. I was like, “OK, I’m just going to have my own parties, but I don’t want to do this one with one type of person. So I was like, we’ll have a retarded- I’ll buy e- so we invited a bunch of people from Marc’s dance party, we invited like Brooklyn art punk kids, we invited people who worked in film, and regular joes, we invited a really wide range, you know, like conservative college age kids, like a couple friends who were just dealing e, just to be there, and we’d be like, “Welcome!” And they’d be like, “Really? …Ok…”

The amount of people who did their first e at our dance parties was retarded. We’d just be playing crazy people music. It was great. The crowd’d be like, “I’m outta my mind.” The first DFA party was The Slipper Room. I played Public Image [Ltd]. [Sings bass line] “Dadadadada” like four times. [fakes bad DJ switch to start of song] “Schhsquap.” My friend Jon Fine, he was in Bitch Magnet it was like math rock, like border line metal, do you know Seam? An early Touch and Go-y, pre Touch and Go band. And he’s got a knit hat and really long hair, looks like J. Mascis in a rain coat, freaking out, through the fourth time I played Public Image. And I was like, “this is fucking crazy.” And we started throwing more parties like that, and it started expanding and expanding, growing and that was what it was always about, and when we did this Studio B party, it was the first time we threw a DFA party and were like, “no one’s gonna come.” We were like, we didn’t really advertise it, I sent out a 200 person guest list, people are like, “how do you get on it?” and I’m like, “Ask me, or go to events @ DFA dot com. Most the people on it are the same who’ve been on it for seven years. And I just send a lil’ email and all the people I ask tell five people. As opposed to sending an email list out to 10,000 people, to get 600 people I send a list of 200 people and I get 2,000 people.

It’s always been that way. You go to the party and you treat people with respect and they come back. If you don’t… When I have money to make a video for “Disco Infiltrator”, I threw a party. I spent the video budget, I spent 15 grand, I rented out Downtime time on 14th street with Justin Turno, Tim Goldsworthy, Tim McSweeny, myself, and Tyler Pope and then have an open bar and a private night. We emailed in said there was no priority and if you emailed in when we asked, up to 1,000 people were allowed on the guest list, that’s it, you’re ready to go, no charge to get in. And everybody came and it was a great fucking time.

No matter how many times people want to write you off, DFA parties are always free and always with free drink and always took care of people and always put the detail work into being a good party and you can’t fuck with that. And there’s a better thing than being in a band, because being in a band, you’re always self-promoting, even if you’re a great dude, and you’re having a great party you can really make the party genuinely about the people who go without selling a commodity. The show isn’t about the people going, the show is definitely about the band. I love bands, and I love making music, don’t get me wrong. But I do think there are some beautiful things about the DJ world that are under-explored and we try do it.

There are little things you can do that are fresh. The little things are about how do you make it different kind of experiment. For me the reason I did LCD instead of the many other things I could be doing with my time isn’t because [pretentious stoner voice] I gotta be in a band dude, I gotta have my voice heard, I don’t fucking give a shit about that. It’s about well, I love my label, love DFA. Love Black Dice and Juan Maclean. These are crazy people. They make crazy people music.

And I’m the pop band and my job is to go make pop records and go on tour and do things as horribly as I can and pay the bills and turn the spotlight and help some of these bands reach their promise and I get happy along the way and I get to make records and it’s fucking awesome but it’s the pop band part of it, is the experiment I find engaging, and that’s why I’m trying to do the live thing the way we do it which is kind of weird like how we’re set up live. It’s doesn’t seem that weird too but we have like 130 decibles onstage and it’s kinda a very weird way to go about a band but one experiment – I see live bands and they sound kinda like their record and they seem everything’s kinda safe and there’s no moment-ness. And I want to create a scenario for my band where you’re constantly struggling and there’s moment-ness. Cuz I’m not Nina Simone. I’m not going to go up there playing piano and leaving you feeling covered in goosebumps and something that, when you’re on your death bed, you’ll know that you saw something that only thirty other people saw and was different before the night before night after.

We have lots of rules about how the band plays and you’re allowed to do whatever you want within those rules and those rules are a little bit different for each person, like you can’t stand a certain way or you can’t gesture.

The anti-poser?

Not because I think that that’s the right way to be, I’m curious to see what happens when you remove some of the things you can hide behind as a band. It’s not like a better band, it’s just like, I don’t see the point in going up and being another band.

There are sonic rules. You can’t bend strings. The guitar players on my watch are not allowed to bend strings. You have to do it a certain way. You can’t be a prima donna. There’s no sounds that are allowed to be used for timing purposes that are heard by the audience there’s never a click track, there’s no in-ear. The first half is without a sequence the second half is, and someone has to turn it on at the right moment. It’s not a band of pros, it’s a band of friends, that was the other rule you have to keep the band – and we lost Tyler ‘cuz he has that !!! record.

So well, I’m like, “OK, I need somebody. I need to find another weird player and we found a guy from Mississippi and he had a funk band he’d played in funk bands for like bar guys and he’d put together funk bands and- there’s just stuff, like little stuff, that helps us keep going. There’s rules about who can do what. I consider everything to be part of one big art gesture, for a lack of a less pretentious thing to say. So I have to make the cover art on some level with my friends. I have to make the videos to a certain degree.

I’ve directed four of the videos and usually I have a pretty big hand and the one time I didn’t I was very unhappy and you know I do all the graphic design for the label and my friend Micheal, who’s the art director. So I did the lightning bolts [the logo] and Michael’s he’s a DFA-er he’s the guy who does the graphics because he was one of the original drunk ass lunatics and he does that stuff with me. Tim and I talked about about how it would help if they made that and that’s what made it interesting. It wasn’t someone making the video about them, it’s the imprint you have, whether its good or bad, it’s not about good or bad.

But you, as an individual, don’t matter?

It doesn’t matter in the sense that that’s not what I’m trying to sell. I’m trying to sell good things. We’re not trying to be like- Tim and I talk about remixes and we’re like, “this is really what we should be doing, and well if we didn’t do this it would be because we’re afraid it isn’t good enough and that’s not a very good reason and what we should be doing is is this remix good? And we’re like, “it is fucking good. Just put it out as it is. Whether it’s cool or not is not our probelm and in 20 years, no one’s going to care, no one’s going to notice what context it was in, and if anything, we’ll stand good stead in history because you don’t just buy the first three singles and then it gets a bit dicey. What you were going for, you can actually buy all the remixes except for the few times we didn’t do a very good job. It makes a part of a whole, but we’re still trying to make new stuff. I still think we could be making the same music over and over and still be making new stuff, because I don’t think people in dance music are coming up with it.

From the very beginning, we talked about the labels we loved and what they did wrong and how do we avoid it and what they did right and how do we stick with that, and we talked about Touch and Go and the things we love about Touch and Go and the things we hate about Factory and the things we love about Factory and if we can just not betray- There’s this interview with Robert Smith where the guy asks “When are you gonna lose the hair?” and he’s like, “a lot of kids who are fans of my band dress like that, and I wouldn’t betray them for everything.” And that’s not what everyone does, but for him, fair enough, you’re fuckin Robert Smith, he’s sort of like, “this is what I do, and I’m not going to bail out and leave a bunch of kids feeling like they look like retards. And it’s like, good on you!

I feel a lot of sense of duty. A sense of duty to how serious the endeavor we’ve taken on is. We make music, period. What’s more fickle and more important than that? When I was a kid, music was my whole life, and it sucks to get older and be like, “ahh, that band actually kinda sucks, I bought into that but they actually kinda blew it and came up with some bullshit and kinda fell apart.” And it’s like, what if we don’t? What if we don’t fall apart? What if we continue to do the same thing and hold back from newness and fashion when we’re getting too wrapped up in it, and pull back from it, push out of white dude world when we’re resting in it, just keep checking that mountain. It really is a balance. I get a lot of interviews where people are like, “what are you going to do about all the fashion people that like you?” And I’m like, “make more records?” Fashion people were the first people who jumped on it. I thought it was great when electro-clash was big. I didn’t think a lot of the music was good, but a lot of the music that’s all serious isn’t good. A small percentage of anything is good. That Crossover album is good. Check out the first Crossover album and you’ll be like, “that’s a good record. There’s some good tracks on that.” And that was totally electro-clash. And is it really better when you don’t have weirdly dressed kids throwing big parties where you get drunk and dance all night? Is it better to go to Union Pool? Listen to fucking Nick Drake with your boring friends? Is that really better? Because you know nothing’s cooler than you? That’s what’s better now.

That place is everything I loathe with a burning rage. It’s a college bar! Draft beer? Why would you go to New York to go to a fucking college bar? It’s not supposed to be space enough for this. I’m sorry?

That’s like your New York song.

It’s a love song man! I love this city, I love it so much. But love songs always have bitter stuff and heart break. And baby why you treat me wrong? I love it. I try to stay. You’re the one pool where I’d happily drown… Surely New York’s better than any place else, but I’m not from the love it or leave it camp. America was founded on the polar opposite of love it or leave it. America was founded on “I fucking hate it and I’m digging in.” A lot of people like going off on “You’re in New York, you shouldn’t complain,” but it’s like, “Of course I’m gonna complain! The best things about New York are very often when people are just fed up with the place.

Tim and I went, we started DFA, he was like, “When I was in London, I fantasized about New York.” I lived in fucking New Jersey and I was like, “Man, when I get into New York, it’s gonna be so awesome.” And when we got here it was like, “WHAT? This is it? A bunch of grumpy love rockers who complain about how loud your amp is because you’re CRASS?” We were trying to buy these fucking hacks who were making a lot of money and making music and being respected–

Interpol?

Long before Interpol. I don’t want to get into it. And we were like. What are we? We’re the bitter complainers who don’t make anything. We’re like, “Whoa. We’re that guy…” I am speaking from inside, I am not being like, “THOSE people.” I’m like, those fucking jerks, I’m made of that! That’s why I feel no remorse in being bitter. It’s like, I get it. We were like, “Fucking hell, New York is easy! It’s wide open, let’s just fucking do it!” Always. New York is endless potential. Endless! And the harder it is to do stuff, the more potential. The more fucking cops bust in on your dancing cabaret licenses. You know where they don’t bust in on their fucking cabaret licenses? Amsterdam. Name one good thing that’s come out of Amsterdam since the fucking Renaissance. You can’t. Pot brownies. There isn’t anything good there, it’s too easy.

You think Todd P’s doing something cool?

It’s not for me, but it’s great. It’s not for me. I don’t go, but if people throw a party all the time and people go, it’s like good on you. I’m just not on the beat. There’s two ways of saying not for me. One is it’s not for me and the other one, oh, the women’s room is not for me. It’s for somebody else! DFA is for me. That’s my thing. People play dance music at other parties, but I’m OK with DFA being for me.– Jeremy Krinsley

 
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