Dan Bejar interview
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Transcript of Dan Bejar interview
\17Friday, June 1, 2012 venue MUSIC
By Tom TravinOf the Journal
Over the course of 17 years and nine full-length albums, Destroyer and its mastermind, Dan Bejar, have been confounding critics and fans alike.
Thats just fine with Bejar, a songwriter with a well-deserved reputation for hyper-literate lyrics and frequent, unpredictable changes in musical direction, and a voice thats been called, among the kinder adjectives, odd and unorthodox (its really much better than anyone gives him credit for, including himself).
Its not like Woe is me, Im a bad singer, but its always funny to read in print someone saying that this guys voice is insufferable where people just cant listen to it, Bejar said by phone from his home in Vancouver, B.C. And sometimes I listen to my caterwauling on my early records, and its cool, I like the spirit behind it, but its also like, man, thats noisy.
Bejar got his start in the mid-90s, making four-track recordings in his basement. Over the course of Destroyers first three records he began to develop a strong indie following attracted to his referential lyrics and unconventional melodies. (During that time Bejar also was helping to found Canadian supergroup the New Pornographers, with whom he still collaborates in a loose arrangement.)
It was also the beginning of a love-hate relationship.Destroyers Streethawk: A Seduction in 2001 drew raves. This Time, released the next year, had critics scratching their heads and even holding their noses.
Naturally, thats his favorite Destroyer album.
Its pretty rocking and noisy, kind of atmospheric in a way that doesnt quite exist on other Destroyer recordings, Bejar said. And I feel like its the first time where my singing kind of really loosened up and my writing kind of became disinterested in pop structures. I look back on it now and it seems kind of fearless, which is not necessarily how I feel these days.
Since then he has both thrilled (Destroyers Rubies, 2006) and
flummoxed (Trouble in Dreams, 2008) an audience that never seems to know
what to make of him. But it may have reached a pinnacle on his most recent album, Kaputt, in 2011.
Compared to everything from Spandau Ballet and Haircut 100 to Steely Dan and 80s soft jazz, Kaputt got strong reviews and made a number of years best lists but left more than a few critics wondering whether its glossy sheen was supposed to be ironic or sincere.
Its also what Bejar calls his first real pop record.
I know (the earlier records) probably got called pop music by some people, but I really didnt think I was doing that, he said. I knew that certain things had to happen inside of a pop record. Most of that is like production choices and approaches to sound not to make it sound too manipulative how you string people along as listeners and create kind of a world that doesnt get punctured.
Before, Destroyer was all about puncturing any
sheen, any kind of melody that settled in too easily. (On Kaputt,) I guess I just wanted my presence to be more of one of many elements that went into the album and not so much like someone who was intent on attacking the listener with rock n roll poetry.
In typical dry, self-deprecating fashion, Bejar who has in fact largely lost interest in playing guitar on recordings, instead concentrating on his singing offers a theory on why the album was such a success:
I still harbor the belief that one of the reasons why Kaputt was way more embraced than other Destroyer records had to do with the fact that theres simply less me on the record. Theres way more music and less of me getting in the way of it. And people are like, Yeah, this songs actually pretty good. Ive hated this band for years, but I like this. And you know what would be really great would be like an instrumental version of it.
They love him, they love him not, they DestroyerWith Sandro Perri
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Dan Bejars voice has been called odd and unorthodox, but he likes the spirit behind it.
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