Was zum lesen - Artikel über Bowie ! 15-10-2003, 08:49:56 Habe ein aktuelles Interview gefunden:David Bowie: his radical reinventions, mystical space journeys, and rescient visions have captivated audiences for close to four decades. But for music's great evolver, it's the way the world is changing that's got him riveted. 1 Oktober 2003InterviewINGRID SISCHY: Your new album, Reality [ISO/ Columbia], really captures this moment in history. I know that when it comes to information, you're a real picker--you're always deep into all kinds of books, pouring over newspapers from around the world, digging around on the Internet. Do you think that the sheer volume of information we now have at our fingertips has made it easier for one to get a handle on what's really going on? DAVID BOWIE: Wail, it's hard to just pop down to the newsagent and get the news the way I would like to be able to get it--there seems to be a reluctance on the part of many newspapers to print what is happening behind the scenes in so many situations. So, I tend to use the Internet more. Everyday, at around eight in the morning, I go online and scan the British newspapers because I like to know what they're saying in my homeland. Half the time, you'd think you were reading about a different world than the one we see reflected in the American press, even when they're talking about the same situation. You can get a gist of things if you look at papers from around the nation like The Washington Post and The New York Times, but you have to scrape and pick around to get a fuller, more accurate picture of what's going on in the world. IS: Do you find having access to all this information overwhelming? DB: No, I don't. I have always liked research projects. I get a kick out of looking things up and following leads, I'll read every footnote in a book studiously--in fact, I sometimes like the footnotes as much as the body of the book itself. I just love the idea of inter-text, of sailing from one piece of information to another. I think it's fascinating. But I also think that there are also numbing aspects to the Internet--it inundates people. I think many people feel crippled by the amount of information they have to search through to get what they need. IS: Has that process of searching affected the way you write? DB: I'm not sure. At the moment I feel like I'm almost treading water. It's a very odd feeling, a floating kind of thing. This is probably a period when more than any other time, the idea that our absolutes are disintegrating is manifest in real terms. Truths that we always thought we could stand by are crumbling before our eyes. It really is quite traumatic. We live in a world where every headline is famous for 15 minutes. You know: "At war with America," "Britney Spears wears a T-shirt," "Saddam is still on the loose"--they all get the same space, the same time. It creates a situation where all news seems equally important. I don't know whether that's a good thing or a bad thing. If you have an inquiring mind, you can really pick through it all and find some semblance of the things that you want to find. But I think, for most people, the process is just so fundamentally overwhelming that they'll accept whatever they happen to be looking at that evening. And I wonder about the great sense of indifference that seems to be creeping into the culture. I think at least partially it has to do with the paralyzing factor of having to wade through so much information to arrive at some approximation of what is really happening. But it also has something to do with this feeling amongst people that the power has totally been taken away from them, that whatever they say is not going to affect the course of events. I imagine part of the appeal of reality shows is that people suddenly feel like they have a voice--they can say, "Number three is a good dancer," "Number four has a better ass." IS: People talk about the apathy that seems to be the mood of our time. But is it apathy? Or is it a feeling of being overwhelmed? DB: Yes, absolutely. Everyone is chasing information so fervently, and all these news outlets are so desperate to keep up with each other. But in doing so, the whole idea of how the news should be presented has been demolished. It's no longer an issue of delivering the information to people that they really need to know, but rather, "What do we put on our front page to get people to pick up the paper this morning?" IS: Some artists hone in on one idea that then becomes a kind of blueprint for a project, but you tend to have multiple interests and curiosities and you're always drawing inspiration from various sources simultaneously. The new record, Reality, follows this pattern too. Tell me more about it. DB: I suppose it's because I have an undiminished idea of variability. I don't think that there's one truth, one absolute. It's an idea that I have always felt instinctively, but it was reinforced by the first thing I read on postmodernism, a book by George Steiner called In Bluebeard's Castle. That book just confirmed for me that there was actually some kind of theory behind what I was doing with my work--realizing that I could like artists as disparate as Anthony Newley and Little Richard, and that it was not wrong to like both at the same time. Or that I can like Igor Stravinsky and the Incredible String Band, or the Velvet Underground and Gustav Mahler. They all just made sense to me. IS: Did that liberate you as a musician? DB: In many ways, it did. But it also made it harder for me to find my way because I had all these choices. It was only when my work began to coalesce in the early 1970s that it was actually possible to make my ideas work in the form of a four-minute song. It wasn't so much about jumping from one kind of music to another, or awkwardly placing seemingly different things alongside one another. It was that I had begun to discover why it all ultimately worked together as part of a new recognition of how culture functioned. Then it became easier for me to understand what I was doing on a formal level. And, of course, I met Brian Eno [who produced the landmark trilogy Low (1977), "Heroes" (1977), and Lodger (1979)], who was a well of knowledge about culture anyway, so I just felt at home at last. IS: But as you were tapping into all these various influences, and collaging and re-imagining, did the music suits say, "You have to decide"? Did you feel like you had to develop a signature identity, the way painters had to in the bulk of the 20th century? DB: No. I have always quite blatantly moved from one thing to another on every album I've made--and no two have been written in the same kind of style. I've probably moved too fast for my own good at times, but I think I've had more fun doing it that way--my way. [laughs] That would have been the deciding factor as to whether I stayed working as an actor/writer/musician, or whether I just found something else to pass the hours. If my work had just become a job or about sustaining a career, I just couldn't have done it. I'm also incredibly lucky that I have an audience that's hugely intelligent. [laughs] IS: Yours is a very postmodern, psychographic audience. When I've been to your shows, people of all generations are watching. DB: I'm big on the idea that there's not a generational divide the way there once was. At this point in my life, I should be like, "Well, I'm 56. Maybe now I should be listening to Duke Ellington and big bands." But those were not formative influences for me. When I was growing up, my tastes were not dissimilar to the tastes of the youth today. The packaging was different, but there are a lot of artists that a 19-year-old and I share a love for, whether it's John Lennon and Jimi Hendrix on the one hand, or Grandaddy, Mercury Rev, and the Flaming Lips on the other. Today, younger people and older people share in those tastes. The only sad thing about that aspect of the popular culture is that many of the people of my generation--apart from moneymaking celebrities like myself--don't have the cash to smash around anymore. The average 56-year-old person is putting kids through university, has taken out another mortgage on the house, and has to think about the future. But they do give money to their teenage kids, and the kids spend it and become the group that everybody wants to target. So you get youth marketing, this whole "youth is wonderful" pitch. Which is fine, because youth is wonderful, but unfortunately what the marketers are actually saying is that the youth have wonderful wallets. In America, youth is where the money is, which leaves the over-45 crowd really without much of a voice. Many are married with responsibilities. IS: I know you're big on soaking things up--art, history, ideas, life. At what point do you say, "Okay, I'm ready to go back into the studio"? DB: Well, I didn't want to get crippled by all the events of this last couple of years. It's like when you have a pain in your back: The way to make sure it doesn't become rigid is to keep trying to work it out, to keep trying to loosen it up. I didn't want what was going on in the world to overtake me and carry me to a place where I just couldn't work anymore. I've seen that happen before to people around me. I felt like I was becoming a passive spectator of everything that was happening, so there was an urgency to my need to pin down this particular moment in time. This album, Reality, is not "Bowie's New York album," but there is a very strong sense of my neighborhood in downtown New York; I was there while I was writing it, so there is an energy reflected in the songs that I couldn't have captured in the mountains. IS: Did that feeling of treading water, which you spoke about earlier, shape the album at all? DB: Yes. Definitely. This album iS a counterpoint to the idea of a spiritual search. It started off as a random collection of songs--just whatever I was writing at the moment--that express how I feel right now, in this time. But afterwards, reflecting on the work itself, there are recurrent themes--the sense of anxiety about the times that we're living through and a strong sense of place. It was unwitting, though, because I wasn't planning on doing that. IS: And there's what a fan might call classic Bowie which operates as a sort of anchor. DB: That's absolutely right. I needed that for myself because writing this record during this last while was almost like remaking something out of the bits and pieces that have been left after this great, awful upheaval. I'm doing it metaphysically with my songs, grabbing these artifacts and putting them together in a quite substantial manner so that there's something there that I recognize as a truth. It's just a human trait to want to continually make a bridge between separate things, to want to forge links. It comes from our desperate need to find a truth to get us through to the next day. But these days, everything we create and put together as true is almost immediately debunked. That's what's so slippery. I suppose the positive thing about creating these anchors and watching them be torn apart is that the process helps us understand the chaos that is the actuality of our existence. IS: So would you say that, as a side theme, this album reflects the need for anchors in one's life? If we start from the beginning with the first song, "New Killer Star," that would seem to be the case. DB: I led off the album with that song because I realized that if I opened with the wrong track, it would set the album up as being negative, which it is not. The one thing I tried to muster all the way through was a sense of positivism. "New Killer Star" is built around a rather corny idea--that in all our troubles, there are things that are clear and bright and beautiful. It's a very simplistic thought, decorative in a way because there's a bit of wordplay in there. But, essentially, it's just something to hang on to. You see, as much as the album is trying to create anchors that I know actually aren't there, there are also these devices that I need to put into my life so that my daughter has the impression from her dad that she has some kind of future. I can't talk about negativity in the same way as I would have done before she was born--every time I say, "The world is fucked up and not worth living in," she's going to look at me and say, "Well, thanks for bringing me into it." I'm morally obliged to find whatever out there is worth living for. IS: Anyway, if one doesn't create these anchors, then one might not be able to stay afloat long enough for things to turn around. DB: We set up these plays for ourselves because if we were to open ourselves up to the idea that there is no plan, no evolution, no point in our being here, we could not struggle through to the next day. The days work for us. A stage play will set up certain laws within itself--it doesn't mean they're real laws, they just work for the play which in itself is only a metaphysical arena. You know that line from As You Like It: "All the world's a stage/And all the men and women merely players"? What truth there is in that cliche! IS: Tell me about "The Loneliest Guy." DB: That song is a very despairing piece of work--a guy qualifying his entirely hermetic, isolated existence by saying, "Actually I'm a lucky guy. I'm not really alone--I just have myself to look after." But in setting up the analogy of the city taken over by weeds, there is this notion that our ideas are inhabited by ghosts and that there's nothing in our philosophy--that all the big ideas are empty containers. IS: Which is a subject you have broached throughout your career. DB: Well, I keep touching on something that I am awfully scared of: the prospect that there really is no meaning to anything. I was trying to avoid it like crazy on this album, but it did slip into that song. I had this image of Bresilia--it seemed to be the perfect standard for an empty godless universe. I think it's the most extraordinary city: these huge public squares with these 1950s, 1960s kind of sci-fi buildings. The architect Oscar Niemeyer [Soares] designed all these places thinking that they were going to be filled with millions of people, and now there are about 200,000 people living there, so the weeds and the grass are growing back up through the stones of this brilliantly modernistic city. It's a set of ideas--the city--which is being taken back over again by the jungle. IS: What's interesting about the album is there is no one crux. There are thoughts, feelings, snapshots of life, so visceral in a song like "She'll Drive the Big Car." DB: All her plans have been disassembled by her thoughtless boyfriend who didn't show up to take her back to the old bohemian life, so she's stuck with this middle-class family and absolutely, desperately unhappy as she's peeling along Riverside Drive. In my mind, she just swings it off to the left and takes the whole lot down. You know what I mean? I see it as a sad song, but I kind of left it open. She's turning the radio up high so she doesn't have to think anymore when she makes her decision to go over the edge. IS: As much as it is a heartbreaker, another of Reality's songs is hilarious. I'm speaking of "Pablo Picasso." DB: "Pablo Picasso" was written by Jonathan Richman, who is the lead singer of the Modern Lovers, a fantastic group from the late 1970s. They were like the Velvet Underground, except with whimsy. There was something so light and dotty about his lyrics--the stuff he used to write was insanely comical. I just salvaged this one from the past because I always thought it was a fantastically funny lyric: "Well some people try to pick up girls/They get called assholes/This never happened to Pablo Picasso/Well the girls would turn the color/Of a juicy avocado when he would drive/Down the street in his El Dorado." [laughs] You know, a babe watching Pablo driving down the streets of New York, it's just so funny. Apologies now to Jonathan Richman, but I took the lyrics and made a song that is completely different. The original is a little dirgelike, and it's all on one note. It doesn't move much, which gives it a power, but it gives it the power of another era. I wanted to change the era and give it a more contemporary feel. IS: And what about "Fall Dogs Bomb the Moon"? That is a wild title. DB: It came about from reading an article on Kellogg Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton, the company that Dick Cheney used to run. Basically, Kellogg Brown & Root got the job of cleaning up Iraq. What tends to happen is that a thing like an issue or a policy manifests itself as a guide. It becomes a character of some kind, like the one in "Fall Dogs." There's this guy saying, "I'm goddamn rich." [laughs] You know, "Throw anything you like at me, baby, because I'm goddamn rich. It doesn't bother me." It's an ugly song sung by an ugly man. So it was definitely about corporate and military power. IS: This device of using characters to represent ideas has been with you from the beginning. Where did it come from? DB: Well, I guess it's just this Greco-Roman notion of turning something nebulous into a personification that you can recognize, like a deity. You know, back then, they would transform a set of emotions into a god. I just convert ideas into people. It's just easier to handle them that way. IS: And how about handling "reality," the title of the album? DB: Well, again, it was almost arbitrary. The first song that I decided to do for this album was called "Reality," so I thought, Well, that's a good enough catchall. It was really nothing more than that. The album's packaging has a Hello Kitty feel to it--it's an anime- or a mange-type character in an abstract background that plays off the whole inappropriateness and lovability of that whole cartoony world with the word reality slapped against it. It is kind of a cheap punch, but it looks right. The typography for the album, too, looks almost hammy. It's just this idea that the word reality has become so devalued. It's like it has been damaged, so we reconcile it, or we put the word virtual in front of it to give it any sense. I don't know--maybe the word reality has outlived it's use. IS: But the word really works for this album. The record is like a collection of snapshots, which is essentially what reality is. DB: Sure, absolutely. But the album has no big point. It is an impression of quite fast snapshots. I'm still just feeling my way through. The problem I'm having is actually trying to find those flecks of light that I can truly believe in, and not just throw them in for the sake of trying to make my work a bit lighter. You know, in a few years my daughter is going to be asking "Is there a God, Dad?" Am I going be able to resolve that issue for myself before then? I don't think so. Do I tell her about what obstacles I am confronting and how I stumble around in the dark about it? Do I present her with this kind of obstacle course right from the beginning? [laughs] It's really hard to be able to tell the truth to your child when you're not absolutely sure what the truth is yourself.