I realized recently that three interviews I did last year really informed my ways of seeing. All three of these interviews were very long and congenial, and ended with us not talking about music or art at all–just life, really. And all three ended up with them offering me advice, in some way.
-Carsten Höller: This guy is one of my favorite contemporary artists, for all things surreal and psychological. He was born in Belgium and lives in Stockholm. In a previous life, he had a PhD in biology and studied arcane insect behavior until he decided to become an artist. He’s probably making more money now than he was back then. Things Carsten reminded me: You don’t throw away your past life as a scientist by choosing to be an artist. Everything you do in your life will inform everything else you do, however subtly. Art and science are not the same, but they are connected.
-David Byrne: Byrne reminded me that science is where it’s at. He spent a lot of time talking enthusiastically about the science textbooks he’d read, and crazy ideas he had about the way the brain might work. He reminded me of Eno, of course, who also spends a lot of time thinking and talking about science.
-Ryuichi Sakamoto: I interviewed Ryuichi Sakamoto in a Manhattan restaurant. He never took off his sunglasses. The interview lasted almost three hours. We talked about Berlin for a bit, and how I felt that, in the increasingly dispiriting real-estate market, New York City was increasingly becoming the province of the very rich, the very lucky, the very neurotic, or all three. He reminisced a bit about how New York was in the late ’70s and early ’80s. I had heard that halcyon story many times before. Why are you living in New York? I remember him asking. If I was your age, he said, I would be living in Berlin! New York will always be there. You can always come back. But you’re only in your 20’s once. Go make your art elsewhere, where the rent is cheap. You can always come back here later when it’s time to sell.