Mountain Goat on music and storytelling – Spotify for artists

He has been the only permanent member during 17 albums Mountain goat, John Darnell has earned a reputation as one of the most effective storytellers of rock song writing. Although his sometimes unusual source material সহজ his band’s 2019 album is easy to hold (and fun!) League with Dragons, A heartbreaking tale of impending destruction that must be inspired by Black hole and dragon– The real power of Darnell’s song is elsewhere. It’s beautifully flawed characters, vivid details, impressive descriptions, and ultimate acceptability – often a snapshot of the human condition is captured gently but truthfully.

No wonder this English major and acclaimed author of the novel (2014) The wolf in the white van Was nominated for a National Book Award) Good for cutting yarn. The impact that Darniel’s music has on the audience is significant. There are big boy bands with less active fan wikis. Popular creator Joseph Fink Welcome to Night Vale The podcast was even moved to start a new series, I only hear about mountain goats, Where he and Darniele split the next LPs into one song at a time. Here, Darnielle breaks down the storytelling process with a similar verve.

Spotify for Artists: Let’s get started. How can someone be good at storytelling?

John Darnell: For me, arriving in my process was a journey of many failures. I always avoid giving any kind of advice, but I suggest thinking of it as work – freeing yourself from the idea that as a writer you are special. You are not. You are working. And when it’s good it’s great and great, but it’s not a sign of muse bias. [Laughs] So build permanent work habits, and be very self-critical without self-judgment. We’re not all writing our best every day, so find out where your strengths are and play them, but also try and develop the parts you are less strong in.

You wrote songs inspired by everything from Judy Garland’s pictures (“Hospital response shot”) Tabletop role-playing games (“Kindness to the Wizard King”). How do you source inspiration, and do you find yourself drawn?

It’s almost always spontaneous – something I go through in my daily routine. I think that’s what comes out in the songs. It’s not something I see and go on, “I’ll definitely tell the world about this.” What inspires me is finding the depths of things that seem worldly. So often I sit down to write and write about a phrase, or a title, or some detail that I have heard something about. Or [laughs] Pictures of people I don’t know. Or pictures of monsters.

What happens when you draw from real events in your own life?

There is some distance. I actually find it harder to write about others than about myself. You can become quite emotional about people whose darker sides you are less familiar with. You want to keep a cool eye on yourself and be as honest as possible about the person you are talking about. It is even more important to maintain some level of objectivity.

Nick Cave says he keeps time at the bank, and basically “goes to work” every day in his office, writes the song. Is it you, or are you more scribble-on-napkins type?

I have an office where I can go as many times as I like because I love to work, but I write everywhere anytime. We’re all always online, so often if I don’t do something, I’ll go [to myself], “You know, your note program probably has an idea [on your phone]Politics You can write a song with people’s politics instead of reading whatever you or you are. “People say I’m cheerful, but for a lyricist to write one or two songs a month is probably not asking so much. It’s your job. It’s work.

Do you usually start singing in a particular way? For example, with a character, scene, or detail?

No, but there are many ways you can get started. You can question yourself in telling all the stories. If you have a good line, you ask, “Where are we? Who is this?” Or you may have a hook on which you are working, such as a sudoku. For “No kids” [on 2002’s Tallahassee], I knew I was “I hope you die”, but I have the original draft and I tried a bunch of things before I got the idea: if it’s “I hope” for different things, and what is that line climax?

A word is a limited medium in terms of word counting, but you regularly create favorite characters who feel very real and have a big emotional impact. So … any tips?

Let them have time in your imagination. Chat with them from time to time: draw pictures of them, write them letters to each other, play roles. You have to spend time with these people. And if you practice with a few characters like this, you’ll get an idea of ​​how to slip inside someone’s skin. Some world-building really helps make a small process later. And communicate with your connection to the character because the character is ultimately going to be you. Just like in a dream, there are no other people – they are all your expression.

How often do you move toward familiar results – an event or a resolution?

Almost not. I am writing to know what I am writing. Whatever you get from it, if you listen to my stuff and like it, it’s an amazing feeling. There is a feeling where storytelling can be noticed that there are always a bunch of parts around you and sometimes it feels like you can put them together to make machines. There are a lot of songs out there that aren’t available and you never hear them – they just come back in that lot that I would draw.

After the songs are composed, are you sequencing the album for the words, or for the story?

I give the vibe a 51 percent priority. I think about those things on the go, and I may know a song I want to start or end with, but I try to be prepared for the album so that I can understand how its sonic story unfolds. There is also a narrative of music. The stories on my albums don’t often take the form of a linear sense, but the songs are sequenced in such a way that I like the way the moods come out.

Towards the end of the album – how important is everything to sort out the story?

I don’t sit back and write stories that give you a beginning, middle and end like a movie. I think if you do, you put off placeholder things where everyone will see you in action throughout the stage, and that’s what you want to avoid because you want to make your voice sound normal. I want people to hear it and think it’s from my forehead. The idea is to create an illusion: the guy is sitting at the microphone and that’s what he has to say – amazing!

– Chris Martins

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