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Q&A with Ariel Pink
A Glass Half Empty
by David Johnson-Igra on Jun 30, 2010
For a moment Ariel Pink steps out from behind the closed door. He seems lost within the cluttered feelings from his estranged childhood, the lauded praise as the godfather of ďchillwaveĒ coupled with the scrutiny of his live performances, and his desire for money. With his first major release on 4ad, Before Today, he retains his signature DIY lo-fi mixture of 60s, 70s, and 80s rock that nostalgically glows over viscerally somber lyrics like ďitís always the same as always / sad tongue tiedĒ. Ariel Pink (known off stage as Ariel Rosenberg) performs with his band Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti at Bimboís on July 10th. SF Station spoke with him in a phone interview while he was touring in Portugal.
SF Station (SFS): Is your glass half full or half empty?
Ariel Rosenberg (AP): Itís half empty.
SFS: Why is that?
AP: I like to appreciate every last drop I have. For me itís all in the process of going away, disintegrating, and dying. Everything is fucked up and thatís why you have to live life to the fullest. I suppose thatís a glass half full kind of thing too.
SFS: When did you adopt this principal?
AP: I suppose when I was very young, I was obsessed with death. It was worrisome to people that I was into that. I think that most of the positive tricks we use in our mind are just sad.
SFS: When you say ďworrisome to peopleĒ are you speaking about your mother?
AP: If I was a parent I would probably be concerned too because you donít want that to lead to something terrible. At the same time, it had to do [for me] with divorced parents, a sense of loneliness in the world, a sense of what was true, and the whole nature of things.
SFS: Were your parents supportive of you recording constantly at a young age?
AP: My mom has always been very supportive of me. My father has been financially supportive in times when Iíve needed it. Iíve grown up behind a locked door, more of less. I didnít win many favors.
SFS: What does it mean, you grew up behind a closed door?
AP: I was very private, insular, and very creative into my own dreamland. I did music in private as an escape from a lot of family hardships and stuff like that, and maybe just social hardships. I grew up with a kind of sense of inadequacy.
SFS: When youíre performing how does it feel to come from out of the closed door? Is Ariel Pink an artist that is changing now that he knows heís performing?
AP: I think the process of making this record is completely foreign to me. Itís a marked change from the Ariel of old, who would have rather than go through all the trouble taken the bull by the reigns no matter the cost.
I think the older [Ariel Pink] was a little more overeager, and excited to vie for affection. I was very desperate to get known. Thank goodness that it happened, because it very quickly ó the pride and all of that stuff ó drained out of me. It didnít solve many issues; letís put it that way.
SFS: How do you feel about your live performances these days?
AP: Theyíre getting better. There is no booing in the audience like people read in Wikipedia. That hasnít been the case for years now.
SFS: Youíre in quite a conundrum to prove yourself, since youíre music was never intended to be performed.
AP: Iím not trying to prove anything. Iím trying to survive in the world, only as I know how to do. I canít make money off recording music. If I want to get a job somewhere, doing something else, leading an anonymous life, I could do that. Ultimately, I donít want to do music unless Iím getting paid for it.
SFS: To survive you have to become a good performing artist.
AP: Well, at this point. Iíve been working at it long enough, and I feel committed to the process of recording and playing music for whatever the cost. Now that I have had a meager tiny bit of success, I shouldnít drop out, right?
It has no therapeutic value for me lately. The mystery is lost. I feel like I will always have been better before, the glass half-empty.
SFS: Music has lost its therapeutic value for you, so itís now about surviving?
AP: If youíre like me youíll make music anyway, whether itís good or not. Thatís fine and all, but I just donít want to be somebody who is spreading their seed all far and wide just to fulfill therapeutic needs.
Ariel Pinkís Haunted Graffiti performs at Bimbos on July 10th. Tickets are $15. Doors open at 8pm. The show begins at 9pm.
by David Johnson-Igra on Jun 30, 2010