An interview with Ariel Pink (in two parts)

· Wednesday February 29, 2012

PART ONE: Ariel Pink, a mysterious figure on the brink. His first Haunted Graffiti project was in 1999. A decade later, he released his first album - the first that’s not a collection of reissued home recordings from years earlier.  2010’s Before Today gave us the first taste of his music that wasn’t ghosts from the archives. It gave us ‘Round and Round’. Today he's fully immersed in the now, with a whole bunch of things in the works – read on. But be warned – what lies below is not history’s greatest set of interactions. What can one do? Gaze momentarily into the void then make a cup of tea. He’ll be at Adelaide Festival on Sun Mar 11.

Aniqa Mannan: You know Haruki Murakami?

Ariel Pink: No.

AM: The… okay. Well he's a Japanese author. He's popular here and uh… in Japan. When he realised that he was going to be successful as a writer he realised that he would also have to take up some sort of sport because since he was at home writing every day he was smoking too many cigarettes and he was getting fat. Have you ever had to do anything like that?

AP: Ahh… sorry? Could you repeat the, I don't understand exactly… 

AM: Like, when he realised he was going to be successful as a writer he took up running.

AP: He took up running…

AM: Yeah to help him think and not get fa-

AP: No. No. I don't do any of that. I just tour.

AM: When you come here, you're also going to be playing Golden Plains and Playground Weekender. That's a lot of camping! Will you be camping? Do you even like camping?

AP: Camping? I didn't realise there was a camping situation.

AM: Oh no. I'm sorry… well I guess you live in LA. Have you ever even been camping?

AP: Yes many times.

AM: Oh… that was a stupid question… umm do you like camping?

AP: Yeah I love camping.

AM: Oh. Great. Well I guess maybe you'll have a good time doing that…

AP: …

AM: Well I don't know if you'll be camping but definitely all the punters will be camping.

AP: All the punters [seems to savour the word punters]… well that's crazy. I hope we get at least a lodging or something like that. A tent or something like that.

AM: I'm sure there'll be something good for the musicians.

AP: Yeah we don't have a tour bus.

AM: Oh…

AP: I mean, we won't have a big enough tour bus.

AM: I guess… So you started this thing all on your own, which is pretty impressive. Do you have any life tips?

AP: I would say no, I don't.

AM: Uh… okay.

AP: I would say that if I was a girl I would have as many babies as possible, but make sure that you're screwing the right guy, sorry - making love to the right guy. I don't know, just don't take things so seriously, and expect the worst, because then you'll be happy when things work out. And to just keep on trying, you know. 99% perspiration, 1% inspiration is the motto.


PART TWO: So Ariel Pink just created an album called Ku Klux Glam with a guy called R. Stevie Moore. Like Ariel’s Doldrums, R. Stevie’s debut album Phonography consisted entirely of home-recording sessions, but Phonography was pretty against the grain for Nashville, Tennessee in 1975. Moore is Ariel’s father - in the sense that he’s the progenitor of many a “home-recording loner”. As Ariel sings on the album, “Sometimes I think I’m a figment of R. Stevie’s imagination, but then I realise it’s a symptom of my condition. Ariel and R. Stevie put their album on Soundcloud; you can listen here.

Aniqa Mannan: So you’re still on 4AD records. Is that what all the, I mean, I've read so many things are coming out. [In addition to Ku Klux Glam, there’s a new Haunted Graffiti album in the mix, working title A Death in Hollywood. Also he’s doing the soundtrack for a werewolf movie, working title Bad Vibes.] Like, I listened on Soundcloud to the thing with R. Stevie Moore. When is that -

Ariel Pink: I don't know, I don't know if or when it's coming out, and it kind of got me into hot water with my record label so I  shouldn't even mention it.

AM: Should I not link to it in the interview?

AP: You can, you can link to it, as long as just, don't make the record label any more pissed off than they are.

AM: Well I really like it. How did you get to meet him?

AP: I reached out of snail mail, my first email account. Hotmail. The first time I opened a Hotmail was in May of 2000 and I had sent Stevie The Doldrums to his address that I found online off of his website and I didn't know if it was going to land in an office or if there was going to be some sort of… I didn't know what his whole deal was, you know, what his day-to-day thing was but I was pretty starstruck when he wrote me back and it was the first email I ever got.