You just started your tour, how’s it going so far?
It’s going great so far, we played in Heidelberg last night. We’ve been doing a combination of movie and concert show.
Let’s talk about the movie… what was your favourite part about making it?
I guess just sort of getting to draw all the rooms, to physically paint them in a real space. I mean you can sit there and draw them into your sketchbook, but then to actually get on a ladder and take a big paintbrush and paint onto the space that you’re in, that was great. It’s like creating your own universe.
Did you do all the artwork yourself?
I designed it, did all the lines, and then I had a team of people who helped colouring it. We had to do about 500 objects, so it was quite a lot.
There are lots of cool people starring in the film. How did you choose the cast?
Thanks, yeah I really like the cast too. I feel like it’s the cast anyone would choose if they were doing an indie movie. A lot of the actors are on popular netflix shows, like Alia Shawkat from Arrested Development or Natasha Lyonne from Orange Is the New Black. And Macaulay Culkin, obviously. Then also some musicians, Devendra Banhart, Andrew VanWyngarden… It actually just came together like this cause they are a community of friends I have, nearly everyone in the movie was a friend. Most of the musicians I knew from touring, you meet people at festivals and stuff.
And you know, musicians and actors like to hang out in the real world, so I thought it’s also a nice way to show that these people know each other. They all did it cause they thought it’s cool, it was like a summer camp project that came together.
Is there any TV show or movie you’d like to hear an album based on?
Do you know the movie Groundhog Day? It’s Bill Murray who is reliving the same day over and over again. That would be interesting. It could be one song that keeps going back to the beginning and then changes a little. So it would be a full album, and each song plays out in a different way, even though it’s actually the same song.
If you could travel back in time, where would you go and what would you do?
I guess something involving making sure Madonna never makes music. *laughs*
Have you ever dreamt of lyrics or a melody, then woke up and turned it into a song?
Sometimes songs seem really good in your dream, but in reality they really suck. But I had times where I wrote down my dreams, and a few scenes from my movie came from a dream. I guess the fact that I make surrealistic stuff totally plays into it. I have dreams that involve songs that have like 5 words, and each word starts with the same letter. You know? Songs that sound cool in a dream but pretty stupid in reality, ha. But maybe it would be cool to take like 10 songs you had in a dream and just commit to finishing them.
Are there any new artists you can recommend?
Oh yes! There is a lady that is doing music in New York, named Aerial East. She made one of my favourite records of the year. It’s such a beautiful album, and she has such a unique voice. You can listen to it on Spotify! It’s so good. Completely underrated.
What advice would you give to young artists who are just about to start with music?
First of all I’d say: Try and make exactly what’s inside your head what the music is. And try not to have it pass through a bunch of ‘middle people’ before it gets to what it is, you know? Keep the music real. I wish that people would stop being afraid of making ambitious music. At the moment so many artists seem to be just throwing stuff to the wall and seeing what sticks, you know? And that might be a nice way to have a fun inspired moment, but yeah… I would definitely encourage everyone to challenge themselves and make some really ambitious musical work.
For me the Aladdin movie was a 4 or 5 year project, it was a long tunnel but for me it was probably the first real artwork that I made in my life, and I can say how happy I’m about the fact that I really challenged myself with this project.
So I’d really encourage people to find out what the most interesting or difficult project is that they are interested in and then actually try and achieve that.
Photo by Lisa Lovegood, © indie.vidualist