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Veröffentlicht am 20.05.2015 | von Teresa

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VILLAGERS – Interview

An einem grauen Berliner Nachmittag bin ich auf dem Weg zum Babilon Kino Berlin. Auf den Ohren ‚Darling Arithmetic‚, das neue Album von Villagers Gründer und einzig festen Bandmitglied Conor O’Brien. Dieser verspätet sich ein wenig, da die Dusche im neuen Tourbus defekt ist, erscheint dann aber knappe zwei Minuten später frisch geduscht und gut gelaunt zum Interview mit Bedroomdisco.

villagers_©st.weickenAfter your last album most people where expecting you to go in a more electronic direction, how did this acoustic album come about?
I always try not to think about the finished product too much. One thing led to another and when I was writing songs for this album, they became more bare and naked and lyrically open and the music followed that. It was a natural thing. “Occupy your mind“ was kind of a weird we’re in the middle of touring and just wanted something to make people energized in the show. It was almost written for the live show, but when I finished the whole process of touring, I didn’t feel like I wanted to be in a rock’n’roll band anymore. So I just wrote songs for myself really and that’s what these songs are.

Would you say that the new album is your most personal so far?
Well, it is more direct. I think all the albums are personal in a weird way, but this album uses language differently, it’s not as cryptic, it doesn’t have that many metaphors or symbols, it’s more like: these are my feelings.

After you recorded the album, did you ever wonder if you bared yourself too much?
Not really, I was really proud of it and really happy that I went in that direction. I think I wouldn’t have been as inspired going in another direction. It was the only way I could write anything and the only thing that gets me interested in writing is love and relationships and sexuality, all these issues that I never really approached before in front of strangers. It was a nice, natural step for me.

Was there something particular that made you open up?
When I started writing about love and sexuality- I’m 32 now and I have more experience that I can write about- the theme of homophobia and bigotry made it’s way into the songs naturally. I don’t like making statements or a point about an issue as much as I like making emotional music. But those things were a huge part of my experience with relationships and such.

That sounds like you still wouldn’t want to be considered an advocate for LGBT rights?
I think I’m a musician and I’m not good at making speeches and talking in front of a big crowed of people. I know what I’m good at and I know what I’m bad at. I think, you are doing a good job as a musician when you’re channeling those energies and those angers and emotions into your music.
That is what I do and I can’t really do anything else at this stage.

Interesting, what is the biggest difference between performing on stage and talking on stage?
I get lost in music and I get lifted by it and feel like sharing it with people. It’s something that I’ve always been obsessed with, since two years of age I always tried to sing in front of people- I just love it! It is something that is natural to me whereas if I don’t have the music I’m more like: Ah! Why is everybody looking at me?!? I just want to run away.

Where does the music come from, what do you think is the driving force?
That is a though question. From my soul? I don’t know. I think I just copy lots and lots of other people and pretend that it’s mine at the end. But I enjoy the process of stealing other peoples ideas.
I think every musician does that, the trick is how to do that interestingly and make something that appears unique.

So, there’s nothing new to come?
I think everything is a collection of ideas that happened before but I like that, it’s humbling and makes you feel like part of a lineage. The traditional folk tradition was passing on music. It wasn’t until the 11th century that they started writing music down, which is really recent. Up until that, people where singing to each other and pass on what happened. I think you can still hear the influence.

You already passed the ‚magical‘ 30, would you say the making of the album covers this transition?
I was more at ease with myself and more open with my sexuality, more comfortable to talk about it with the press. I had such bad experiences before, anytime I’d test the water I’d always been kicked back in, almost physically, by dirty looks or people thinking I’m disgusting. It made me write songs in anger, songs about ideas of society in a very generalized way which I found quite powerful. I feel like my experienced is an amplified version of other peoples experience. When you are forced to be on the fringe of society you get to look at it from a very different perspective and I find that really helpful as a writer. Up until now, I’ve used that but now, I feel far more part of society, except I still have to look over my back if I want to hold my boyfriends hand in public. No matter where I am in the world, I’m still looking if someone is gonna kick my face in. That is very frustrating.

Do you every get sick o having to talk about sexuality in interviews that should be about your music?
I think that fact that I have too shows, that it’s still an issue and that means you should talk about it cause it has to be normalized in peoples brains. I’m really aware of coming to Berlin or New York talking about homophobia and I wonder if I look like this little Irish boy, who talks about issues that aren’t even an issue in these cities? But it does still exist.

What does ‚Darling Arithmetics‘ mean to you as a title?
It’s kind of an accidental metaphor, it was a working title that I used for emotional reasons.
I wasn’t able to write the song because the song was such a dark thing for me about loosing someone and death and I used the word “arithmetics“ as the replacement for the persons name.
It worked well with the cadence of the music and at the same time a cold mathematical term and I realized I loved the weird friction of the word ‚darling‘, which is a word of endearment and ‚arithmetic‘ which is the opposite of that. I enjoyed the space between that. Arithmetic is the base of mathematics and your loved ones are the basis of your world and your life. It worked on different levels for me and rolled of the tongue so I kept it. And it was also a song that I didn’t want anybody to hear for a long time. When I wrote songs for the new album, I realized there was actually a home for this song, so I put it right in the center so the other songs would protect it.

In the end, how did you decide which songs where to make it on the album? Which ones didn’t make the cut?
The ones that didn’t make the cut were bitter and moralizing in some way. I was really aware that if I was to write about relationships and love I didn’t want the bigotry part take over. It was a struggle against anger and bitterness.

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