I’m just taking one step at a time. I could zigzag one way, but it’s not usually on purpose.
If someone is making a judgment when they don’t have firsthand experience, it’s intolerant. How can you make a judgment on something you don’t know about?
As society changes, as politics change, as people change, certain songs still seem to resonate.
I would love to do an electronic record. There’s just so much to see and do and try. And life goes by.
Two men look out the same prison bars; one sees mud and the other stars.
There are a lot of people who really abused sampling and gave it a bad name, by just taking people’s entire hit songs and rapping over them. It gave publishers license to get a little greedy.
I think my whole generation’s mission is to kill the cliche.
I’m the artist formally known as Beck. I have a genius wig. When I put that wig on, then the true genius emerges. I don’t have enough hair to be a genius. I think you have to have hair going everywhere.
No one should drive a hard bargain with an artist.
Art is the child of Nature; yes, her darling child, in whom we trace the features of the mother’s face, her aspect and her attitude.
Tonight the city is full of morgues, and all the toilets are overflowing. There’s shopping malls coming out of the walls, as we walk out among the manure. That’s why I pay no mind.
Anything goes. You always find interesting things that way.
Every time you go in, it’s like starting over. You don’t know how you did the other records. You’re learning all over. It’s some weird musician amnesia, or maybe the road wipes it out.
I did that Grammys thing – I did a little freeform poem.
I didn’t want to do something typical.
I had long hair when I was a teenager.
I hadn’t done much rapping in a while. I really wasn’t sure I was going to do that any more. For a couple years I thought I was done with that. It wasn’t really required of me.
I hear a lot of bad TV commercials that try to sound like Where It’s At. That pretty much turned me off from using the electric piano for a lot of years.
I just go in the studio and write on the spot and see what comes out.
I sat out a few years because I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do next. So many things were changing in music and in culture, so it seemed like a good time to step back.
I think you have to keep a childlike quality to play music or make a record.
In Japan, you get on the bullet train or the airplane, and I loved the little speeches the stewardesses would do. They even do little speeches before you play gigs.
In the past it seemed like I was making fun of rap a little bit. But it was more me making fun of myself, since I’m not technically a rapper, whatever that means.
In the studio, I’m always throwing people on different instruments.
It’s really hard for me to commit, one way or the other. I was just always creating and seeing what came out.
Sea Change was so specific. From the beginning it was set what it was going to be. All the other ideas that I had at the time I had to put to the side.
Sometimes things in life take a few years to digest, and they find their way into the work later on. Sometimes I’m writing about things from eight years ago-they just took a long time to distill and come out in the appropriate way.
The repercussions of what you put out and what people gravitate to in your music never registered at all. I never had that thing that maybe other bands have – a specific idea of what they are and what their sound is.
The years keep going by and you realize, Wow. Doing these records is such a process: going on tour for a year and a half, then you get home and you want to do other things.
There’s 40 or 50 songs that nobody’s heard that I’ve done in between albums. There’s a whole evolution from Midnite Vultures to Sea Change that’s never been released.
There’s never any pressure on the music having to be something.
There’s some quality you get when you’re not totally comfortable. When you’re not doing what you’re used to, you could completely fall on your face. You could completely blow it.
We play a hip-hop song and suddenly 25 people on the left jump up and put their hands in the air; then you play Lost Cause and they’re like, I don’t know about this one.
When my nephew was 3 and 4, he would say the most genius things. He said, You’re hammer macho with FBI dogs. I thought it was just one of those great lines.
When you work with somebody for a long period of time, you develop a shorthand with everything.
You have to shelve a lot of your inspiration. There’s only so much you can do with one record.
I love British humor. It’s just so – surreal.
I never had any expectations of winning a Grammy. It wasn’t something I was set on, that I was hoping and praying and starving for.
To me, ‘rock star’ conjures up something like a mystic: someone who sees himself as above other people, someone who has the key to the secret that people want to know.
The cliche of what a rock star is – there’s something elitist about it. I never related to that. I’m an entertainer. I think of it as, you’re performing for people. It’s not a self-glorification thing.
There’s something different that happens when you’re writing a song for your own record that you know you’re going to sing.
What Spotify pays me is not even enough to pay the musicians playing with me or the people working on the discs. It’s not working. Something is going to have to give.
I enjoy the collaboration. I always envied people in bands who got to have that interaction. I’ve done so many albums where I’ve been in the studio for 14 hours a day for six months just trying to come up with things on my own. It’s a nice change helping other people with their music and not being all about what I’m trying to do myself.
Growing up, a film was an action film or it was a comedy or it was romantic, but you don’t really see such stark lines between genres nowadays.
You can’t meditate on walking or certain human habits. You concentrate too much on the way you walk, and you’ll start walking pretty weird.
I think trying to be offbeat is the most boring thing possible.
Sometimes I’ll have an idea for a story or have a subject, and that will inspire lyrics, but most of the time, hopefully, they already exist somewhere else.
In recording, you’re trying to make something work sonically – getting the right inflection on the right guitar sound – and maybe a part that would be musically great doesn’t sound as cool. On paper, though, it’s all stripped back. The musical idea is the one that wins.
I’ve personally reached the point where the sound of MP3s are so uncompelling, because so much is lost in translation.
Being able to take musical ideas through every iteration is attractive to me. Granted, not everyone’s going to want to listen to that, but it should exist.
Every band I knew or played with had flyers and properly-recorded demos and contacts; I couldn’t even get a gig.
I have heard some stuff that might be influenced by my records, but it’s usually pretty wacky and off-the-wall, which is kind of annoying, to be frank.
Most of my early records were not cohesive at all, just collections of demos recorded in different years. ‘Odelay’ was the first time I actually got to go in the studio and record a piece of music in a continuous linear fashion, although that was written over a year.
I can’t tell you how many things I’ve worked on where I sat on it for a few years, and then somebody else did something very similar. Whether it’s some weird vocal effect you hear on another record, or a drum beat, or even a song title, a subject matter, or a mixture of different kinds of music.
There’s more things that I’d like to do. You know, each song is a little bit of a puzzle. I see most of them as just failed attempts.
I feel like I’ve spent the majority of my time touring and traveling, so if I reduced the actual time making music, it’s probably four and a half years at the most.
Especially in music, you wonder, Okay, should I still be doing this? Like, are you overstaying your welcome at the party? But I don’t know.
I didn’t want to be on a major label. I wanted all the attention and the noise to go away because I wanted to be something a little bit more substantial.
When I was a kid and putting out my first records, there was a lot made out of the fact that the ’50s/’60s generation was so dominant.
I came up in a time when Springsteen, the Stones, Dylan, and the Beatles were still dominant. For every magazine cover with a new band, there were five covers with one of those guys.
Something just happens when you’re making a record, where certain things start to come out. It’s just something in the air.
I wish I had more confidence. I think that’s probably my Achilles’ heel. If I had more, I probably would have felt emboldened to make more interesting music earlier on, or really go for it in an artistic or songwriting sense.
When I started out playing small clubs, you could feel the room recoil from certain kinds of songs. Anything that was too personal, that had a sentiment to it, or was laying out your feelings, was immediately booed. People would start throwing things. And anything that was really provocative or humorous or radical was embraced or cheered.
Studying music in a conservatory would be stifling for me, although I respect people who can do it. And by no means am I an expert at notating music or music theory – that’s not really my world.
In recording, you’re trying to make something work sonically – getting the right inflection on the right guitar sound – and maybe a part that would be musically great doesn’t sound as cool.
There are certain songs that just stick around and do something that transcends whatever time they were written in. Through different eras, people are able to impart different meaning to the song, and they become part of some sort of consciousness.
If you look at an old piece of sheet music, there’s all kinds of text on it, there are ads, there are proclamations of the greatest songs’ success, there’s artwork. So there is a tactile, physical experience of learning the song and the way it’s notated.
Usually, the music inspires the lyrics. The lyrics just sort of fall off like a bunch of crumbs from the melody. That’s all I want them to be – crumbs. I don’t want to work any kind of fabricated message.
I’ve never been able to relate to apathy. I’ve always been doing stuff, been in action, making music or working just to get by.
I didn’t go to high school. I never felt connected to people my age.
I’m really fascinated by lingos and colloquialisms that are outmoded and have gone by the wayside. I love the way people spoke in the ’30s, and the amazing slang of the mid-’60s and ’70s.
If we look at the fact that record covers are essentially advertisements for the music, we acknowledge a function and purpose to draw in the prospective buyer.
I’m a musician. I’m not, like, a personality. I’ve never really pretended to perform that kind of function.
I always loved art shows at schools. My friends with kids would go, and I would go with them. It’s some of my favorite art… It’s more about creativity than the grand statement of an agenda.