Chosen Music: An Interview with Ariel Pink

Though it’s 75 degrees outside, Ariel Pink has on a thick wool pea coat. A frail, hunched, unshowered looking man-boy, he’s nestled on one side of a gray sofa, and every time something gets him worked up — whether it’s investment banking firms or Jews — he punches the cushions as if they were responsible for the economic meltdown. When not abusing furniture, the alt-rock musician toys with his hair in a manic combination of frustration and complete boredom.

Newly signed to big time indie label 4AD, Pink’s first new album in years, Before Today, is expected this June. The crown prince of Pitchfork (“If I changed my underwear, Pitchfork would write about it”) has been dubbed an “indie-cult hero” by L.A. Weekly and the “Great Lo-Fi Hope” by Hipster Runoff, and though Pink does tell us some stuff about his music and career, he mostly rants about Goldman Sachs, history and how Jewish national pride is silly since “potatoes are our brothers.” Yes, in the world of Ariel Pink, these things, and more, are all connected.

Heeb: So you’re leaving behind the self-recording. How’s that going?
AP: It’s definitely a learning experience. Less the technical aspects than just the political aspects, of just dealing with many people: the band, engineers, producers, producers with the band — being able to do the whole thing without it falling apart because it’s all on me. I’ve become a diplomat of sorts, learning how to tell people what to do.

Heeb: You’re keeping the peace?
AP: Dude, I feel like I’m the guy from Goldman Sachs, man. Like I’m keeping my company together, and it hinges on me, and if I’m not happy, then the whole thing falls to shit.

Heeb: In past interviews you’ve sounded reluctant to get in a studio. What changed?
AP: I didn’t have a whiz kid. Now I’ve got like, ten and a little bit of cash for overhead.

Heeb: So engineers and cash are the magic ingredients?
AP: Yeah. That’s all I’ve been trying to do this entire time, getting signed. I’ve wanted to do this since the beginning and I thought there’d be heaps of labels lining up to fucking sign me. And there were, but the second that I brought up money they were just like, ‘Oh, we don’t have any. We’ve shot off budget.’ So I was just like, ‘Fuck you, just get out of my house, man. Are you kidding me? I’m not that cheap.’

Heeb: People are loving your shows since you got the live band. Was that because of the new label?
AP: When I was put onto Paw Tracks I was kind of just thrust into the world of live performing and actually having to like, make a living for myself doing music. And there’s no way of making money doing music unless I’m touring and I sell merchandise. At first, I saw live performing as a necessary evil, because I really didn’t care about it. I had to figure out a way to enjoy it and what that would entail was that I get a really good band and that I would learn to actually like, cultivate some sort of professionalism and a sense of commitment from band members . . . It’s taken me a long time to learn these things and it’s culminated with this record. I feel like it’s my first record, you know. Essentially, it is the first record that anybody has heard from me since what they’ve heard is always like, cassettes from a dark age in my history. So this is my, kind of, ‘Hello, you may have heard about me.”

Heeb: Speaking of the new album . . .
AP: No, I’m all business now. I have no interest in songs and stuff like that and politics. I don’t really give a shit about music. I really don’t. I think it’s child’s play. I just don’t care.

What do you think?

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About The Author

Lauren Soroken

Lauren Soroken was raised in north Florida but now resides in Brooklyn where Heeb tried to dress her up as Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS her first day on the job.

12 Responses

  1. brainyfox

    Another feel good moment brought to you us by

  2. Patrik

    I’m so happy there’s a bio at the end so I know whom to blame for this terrible, lazy piece of journalism.

  3. Yasha

    Nice interview Lauren. And Jews are totally the worst, I agree.

  4. Avraham

    This guy is a total douche and a zero. Is his irreverent opinion supposed to make him cool and “out there”? Yuck.

  5. Slobrodan Chilbrošević

    Hahaha. U called him “a zero”! Seriously, the point was made earlier: Don’t talk to the guy, just listen to the music. He’s fucking with you.

  6. jewdar

    Umm, Hephzibah, I’m not sure if you’re talking about the same Karl Marx who wrote the Communist Manifesto, because your use of the word “Jewz” suggests you may be from an alternate reality with different spelling rules. In this world, however, Karl Marx wasn’t, and couldn’t have been “anti-Israel,” because Israel, and, indeed, Zionism (with the exception of the beginnings of Hibat Zion), didn’t exist.

    As for the rest of Pink’s comments, I’m not sure why anybody would attempt to read meaning in what’s basically a semi-coherent rant. I’ve never heard of him(which may be a reflection of my own limitations), but words like They’re fucking stupid. The ones that are like, not in Israel, they’re just so stupid. They’re all like, beefed up with national pride and all that kind of stuff. It’s just bullshit. I’m totally against all that. I think you’re a man of the world. Worldly. We’re all from the same DNA strand, you know. It’s like potatoes are our brothers. So, so, so silly.” aren’t inclined to make me see him as a deep thinker.

  7. hephzibala

    you blusterous nitwit! carl marx wrote on the jewish question, whcih is critical of this precise materialistic view of “history” . and yes the term zionism emerged 7 years after his death, you obstreperous shrew. my word

  8. jewdar

    The “Jewish Question” is not “Israel,” and your inability to distinguish it (and Jews, for that matter), from the state of Israel, doesn’t say much for your own grasp of history.

    To say that Karl Marx is “anti-Israel” would be like saying that he was “anti-Chrysler.” Would he have been “anti-Chrysler?” Probably, but he wasn’t, since it didn’t exist.

    And as far as Marx’s alleged genius goes, I would say his opinion that Jews aren’t a real nationality and are merely a by-product of capitalism hardly demonstrates any great intellectual gift. What are his words of wisdom on the subject?:
    “What is the secular basis of Judaism? Practical need, selfishness. What is the secular cult of the Jew? Haggling. What is his secular god? Money. Well then, an emancipation from haggling and money, from practical, real Judaism would be the self emancipation of our age…

    …The social emancipation of the Jew is the emancipation of society from Judaism.”

    Nothing about Israel, a whole lot about Jews. And one might argue that the Zionist movement itself rather challenges his views, since Jews clearly constructed a nationalist identity fairly contrary to the Jewish identity of his time, and built not around economics but around 19th century Romantic nationalism.
    As for the rest of his supposed genius, how’s that inevitable revolution coming?:

  9. Lucy

    he’s a GREAT musician, visual artist and songwriter of broad influence.
    It would be a shame to see him Cat Stevens on us.

  10. Birt

    I thought Ariel Pink didn’t really care about the state of the world, really glad to see him criticising capitalism , mindless nationalism, consumerism and Israel


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