In celebration of Trinie Dalton’s excellent new story collection, Baby Geisha (Two Dollar Radio), we’re posting the below excerpt from her 2007 interview with Panda Bear. Enjoy.
THE BELIEVER: Since you’re living in a foreign country, surrounded by foreign language, do you have a more urgent need to communicate through music something international, something basic or primal? How do you see music’s ability to communicate beyond words?
PANDA BEAR: I do feel like it’s very much that, not just with this album, but with every piece of music I’ve ever done. Talking, I never felt very good at. I used to be a really, really shy person. Music is all about communicating. Maybe this has been highlighted in Lisbon, where I really couldn’t talk to anybody, at least for a long time. I got so productive writing songs. I hadn’t ever thought of this before, but it’s definitely due to this.
With the music I’m doing, I’m trying to unconsciously communicate the things I think are really important. I find it increasingly difficult to write songs about blasé stuff that doesn’t have some deep emotional impact on my existence. That sounds dramatic but it’s not meant to be. One of the songs I did for Animal Collective recently was about the responsibilities of having a kid…
BLVR: You’re making music that you put a certain level of emotion into, that’s maybe post-verbal. Your music is extremely physical. I wonder if you intellectualize that. Do you give yourself challenges imposing logic on your songs, or do you think of music like a puzzle, and make up ideas while you’re sampling and editing sounds you’ve compiled?
PB: I don’t get too academic or too mental about what I’m doing. In retrospect, I often do, but in the process of making something I feel like I’m very without my mind. The work I’m happiest with is the most instinctual. If I do work that sounds like what I’ve done before of what the band has done before, or even if it reminds me of something, it’s instantly thrown away. Doing something that sounds old, or that has any type of nostalgia attached to it, does not interest me on any level. What’s exciting for me, and what coincidentally seems most natural, is to represent what’s important to me right now, as a person in the year 2007, living in Lisbon, in the present tense. That’s what I do, for better or for worse.
BLVR: Twenty years later you can say, “So that’s what I was thinking.” That’s kind of what art is, right? Not to say it’s journalism, but to make something that other people can relate to, something that you will hear, see, or read later on to remind yourself of what your life was like during that time.
PB: That’s why I call what I do, and what the band does, folk music, to a tee. Folk music is all about trying to express what it’s like to live life in your community. For the most part, that’s what Animal Collective is about. When someone asks us if we consider ourselves a folk band, I always say yes. But maybe that’s where my definition of folk music differs from the typical definition.