Devendra Banhart, Rejoicing in the Hands
InterviewIn today's musical landscape, there are some adjectives and artist comparisons that get referenced far too often. "Genius" comes to mind when I think of descriptives put on many of today's performers that just aren't deserving of this title - I think the term "special" could relate to many. As far as comparisons, Nick Drake has been compared to more artists than days he lived. Another would be Jeff Magnum, a genius who decided to stop recording music at exactly the right time, years before his songs became main attractions for reproduction.
What is to be learned from this "watering down" of artist inbreeding is that rarely does an artist come along who actually delivers an album deserving of mighty superlatives. A performer who can still awe you with their voice and guitar alone. Devendra Banhart is pretty fucking close. The 23 year-old singer / songcrafter has been compared to (a couple that make valid relation) Syd Barrett, Marc Bolan and Daniel Johnston. One I'll add to the list is John Fahey, a legend whose guitar style Devendra is a graduate of.
GO! Room 4 studios in Carborro, North Carolina is small, two-level venue that immediately showcases it's performers talents. The maximum "state-allowed" occupancy for the place is just under 100 - or so the fire marshall's sign says above the bar. On this evening, I would say well into 150 folks got their freak on to Devendra's performance. Part improvisational - part the man's inner child on display, Devendra and guests (including all members of Vetiver and Kevin Barker of Currituck Co.) played material from his latest album Rejoicing in the Hands as well as a few new, still extremely animal inspired tunes.
What follows is an honest attempt to discuss things not important to anyone - me, you, the demons that have misplaced your mind. Careful pleasant peasant - the times they are a changin'.. ... and be you with Devendra or not, his songs are touching many.
The book of your art ( Light Aligns ), is that still in the works and when will it be available?
Actually it's done. After some time with labels we finally got it published through XL Records in Europe. It's a shame we couldn't have it for the American release of the album (Rejoicing), because it's an integral part of the record because most of these songs start out as drawings and then lead to songs. The XL version comes packaged with the book, it's really thick - it looks like Buena Vista Social Club cd. They shipped me copies of the book and we have them on tour - it's the only way most people will be able get the book.
I've read that you are anxious to get back to San Francisco, is there any particular reason you want to go back west versus New York?
I moved there, but I'm actually moving to the south of France in August. My girlfriends mother is a bullfighter, she fights in a little town called Arles where she lives on the same plot of land as the Gypsy Kings (the musicians). We are gonna live with them and hopefully I will learn a little flamenco.
The compilation for Arthur Magazine, The Golden Apples of the Sun, how did that all come about?
Laris (Kreslins) and Jay (Babcock) asked me to put a comp together of the cats who are blowin' all minds RIGHT NOW - so I did it, just contemporary people. Then after we finished it, I realized all these cats know each other which is why we decided on the liner quotes.
Do you enjoy interviews?
I really enjoy them once I've had time to rest. I don't like doing interviews before I have to play music - I don't like talking all day until I have to play. But I do like them at the same time, I just can't make up my mind.
So, from here on, we set the computer up to automatically generate a few more questions for Devendra, kind of Magic Eight Ball style - fun ::
And there is a cookbook coming out, right?
Not a cookbook, a Joke Book!
Most of the Oh me, Oh my sessions were recorded on an answering machine - did any get lost or erased?
There are many songs from those "sessions" no one will ever hear (thank god!) and yes, many did get erased, bummer!
Will there be an album with the Black Babies?
Someday, except one of the Maine Black babies moved to Jamaica (to work at the Peter Tosh center!) and we are on a break from being.
Are you familar with the soundtrack to a movie called Zabriskie Point? I ask because your music reminds me of something that would had blended perfectly with the music on it (Roscoe Holcomb, early Pink Floyd, John Fahey).
Wow! Do you have a copy? If I give you my adress willl you send me a copy??????
Do you plan on voting (Presidential) this year? Any thoughts on America's current situation.. .
Anyone But Bush! I vote Ian Svenonious!