The charming and ever-modest Emmanuelle posted the below excerpts of her interview with Beck in the comments section of Kenan Hebert’s review of Beck’s Sea Change, in which he turns a corner into ’60s introspective acoustic pop-rock. Her work always belongs on the front page:
- Sorry for the delay transcribing the interview, but here are some bits I find interesting (From an intw on Sept 20. 2002 at the Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles.)
About why he withdrew for almost 3 years:
“I didn’t really meant to. I wasn’t sure about what I wanted to do next and I had about 3 or 4 projects going on at the same time. And then… I wasn’t sure if I should put up this accoustic record, or a rock record that I was going to do… all these different things. Then September 11 happened. Nobody was really working for a while… it took this year to really say, ok, I got to make a record now. It’s been 3 years.
“I really wanted to work on my song writing. I did that for the last 2 years, really honing songs, working on my singing”
About the “Break up record” label given by critics:
“I really like to leave my record open so that people can interpret it though their loss. I really respect the classic great songs writers you know, like the Cole Porters or Hoagy Carmichaels, these classic songwriters who lived in the 20s, 30s or 40s. They wrote the standards. Their songs are perennial because they are simple, very emotional, and they’re good songs but they also have a universality, they’re timeless. They’re specific of a situation at a certain time they work on different levels, you can interpret them on different levels.
“I don’t really talk about my personal life much, I’m a musician person. It’s always been a point of integrity for me to my music. I don’t want people to be thinking about Beck (when they listen to my songs).”
“I don’t necesseraily think this kind of songs is new for me. I’ve been writing these kind of songs for a long time. Maybe as time is going on, I’ve become more comfortable to expose that. I almost didn’t think that people would want to hear that. People have always asked me: ‘Will you write some personal songs?’ And I’d say: ‘Yeah.’ But I usually like to put out more extrovert music. I want people to enjoy themselves. I don’t want to be selfish, you know. There’s a lot of music out there that’s depressed and melancholic. For me… I love a lot of that kind of music. I love Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Francoise Hardy… That kind of music is universal. But for me, writing a happy song is the most difficult. It’s much more of a challenge.”
About Gainsbourg and “Paper Tiger”:
“I’ve always listened to him. When Air came out and some of the other mellow (French) pop musicans I felt like it was their territory. I’ve been listening to Gainsbourg for years and I’ve always wanted to do something influenced by him. To me, a record like Melody Nelson has so many possibilities.
But when we were making the record, I wanted to do something with strings that was very dramatic. And we were listening to that. And (he chuckles) we ended up with something (Paper Tiger) that sounded exactly like it (Melody Nelson). I didn’t intend that. But we did it and it came out so good, in my opinon, it sounded like a tribute. But it transcended that. And it was a good song. I remember, my producer is very particular about that kind of thing. I was like: ‘I don’t know, can we put this out?’ And he said: ‘It’s fine. It’s a good piece of work.’ But yeah, I love the way Gainsbourg uses the orchestras. It’s not afraid to be dramatic and bold and emotional. There’s something really cool about the sound too.”
“I’ve been around it my whole life.” The conversation on this theme is archived on my blog.
The CD is released today.