Interviews

Selected Q-and-A's from the world of the arts.

 
 

photo by Steve Pyke

Philip Glass

"If, someday, I ever retire, which is unlikely, I will maybe go through and listen to everything I've done—but I doubt I'll actually do that. I haven't really had the chance to reflect on it in that way, and maybe I don't want to. I like the idea of living in the near-present rather than going into the deep past."


John Waters. PHOTO BY GREG GORMAN

John Waters

"I always said they should send racists to travel instead of jail, because you can't be a racist if you're a world traveler. You'd just be an idiot. Racists are just people that are too stupid to travel."


Meredith Monk

"I always wanted to push through to new ways of doing things in relation to the human voice, the most ancient instrument. I had a feeling of its primal power. At the same time, I was also working with combining these different elements into one form. A lot of people weren’t working that way. I feel like I was always trying to work between the cracks of what we think of as art-forms to find another form."


George Saunders. PHOTO BY CHLOE AFTEL

George Saunders

"I’ve noticed there’s a new trend where young writers are expected to get their own blurbs, before they even get agents, which I think is a little unseemly. That doesn’t seem fair to young writers. But that’s how you realize you’re becoming a codger, when things start seeming outrageous to you."


Sara Juli. PHOTO BY ARTHUR FINK

Sara Juli

"I have had some pushback from some presenters, saying, "Look, the piece sounds interesting but I'm just not going to be able to promote something called Tense Vagina." It's a reminder of things our country is still struggling with. I try to say, "Look, I'm not calling it Tense Pussy." Vagina is an anatomical word. It could be called Tense Elbow—what's the difference between elbow and vagina?"

[Sara Juli live review]


John Luther Adams

"It's funny, this is only the second time I’ve used my field recordings in a finished piece, although I have hundreds of hours of them. I don’t often use that material itself. Maybe it’s partly out of reverence for the sounds themselves and the forces or animals that make them. Maybe it’s because I’m trying to create something that is somehow a parallel world; that, as Stieglitz the photographer would have said, is some kind of equivalent, not the thing itself or an illustration of it."


Phil Torres. PHOTO BY ADAM GRAETZ

Phil Torres 

"The other possibility is nanobots designed to self-replicate. You drop them on a table and they start manipulating its molecules to create clones. A terrorist with the ultimate suicide wish could release a swarm of mindlessly, exponentially reproducing micromachines and not implausibly turn the Earth to dust. Scientists call this the gray goo scenario."


Bill Callahan

Bill Callahan

"In shrugging off the cape of Smog and running—I am still in the giddy and running stage, where you can't believe how easy it was to shrug off."


Griel Marcus

Griel Marcus

"I have been fascinated with the idea of prophecy as the bedrock of American rhetoric. It’s a theme that comes up again and again when people ask what it means to be American, whenever there’s an attempt to say that this country is something whole, not just a collection of different states and ethnic groups. "


The Hold Steady

"People think of songwriting as a very personal thing: A guy gets up there with an acoustic guitar and he sings his heart out, bares his soul. What we're doing is more cinematic. No one goes up to Quentin Tarantino and goes, 'You must shoot a lot of people. You must do karate all the time'."


Beach House

"Intimacy is kind of a Beach House thing."


Joanna Newsom

"I guess I shouldn't say that I've struggled to reconcile [pop and classical], because for years I didn't understand that what I was doing was slightly different than what I thought I was doing."