In reality, a "popular" musician is a working musician.
I still maintain that I am not popular, which I am quite comfortable with. I do like the positive responses, reviews, and the nice things audiences say about the music, but I am very, very, bad at entrepreneurial behavior--reaching out. So of all the musicians I work with, I would say that I am one of the least buzzed. The reality is that even though I enjoy touring, I have a shorter fuse than most, and like to come home to simple living, writing and recording. It does feel good to play in front of enthusiastic audiences, but it is hard for me to keep the connection going for long tours.
I often have people telling me how different the classical world is from the rock world, or visa versa. Six months into a tour when you are playing the same 20 songs night after night, reproducing with fidelity a record of some success, it reminds me a lot of playing with a Symphony Orchestra, first rehearsal of one, when the 1812 Overture is put in front of me.
We do seem to equate numbers with success, and if we don’t then we are grasping at straws such as "well, I will be known when I am gone," which is a common martyr-like mantra amongst composers.
For me, there is a conscious drawing back from the rapidity of travel: from last minute music development, business components becoming influential in creative decisions, tiredness, repetition of repertoire, and the theatre of puppetry in live performances. All of these kinds of things contribute. It is a conscious decision with cultural repercussions, towards more self-reliance, the time to process all the change, process the experiences and maybe even to put them back into the music.
What is more gratifying, getting more exposure for making "your music" or exposing people to musical styles and sounds that are not so mainstream, even by indie standards?
It is the special sonic events or beauty in the music that I love and try to bring to people. I do think that beauty--beauty in sadness, uplifting beauty--is an end unto itself. Music is still a foreign lover to me. I am always loving the unexpected. I don’t consider the music that I write to be mine, or even that I write it. I find it; through doodling, finding is liking. I then try and give it a life.
For me, musical, performative beauty is an end unto itself.
Creatures was more lyrical than your previous works. Why so? Is that something that we will see on future albums?
I am not sure what lyrical means actually; if we are talking melodies and beauty, well perhaps that makes sense. It could be simply to do with writing for voice, which is a special case with Creatures with all its songs. There is physical reality, a necessity, which comes with the voice. Beauty is a biological beast, except possibly when it comes to Webern.