Francesca Nottola / Interviews

INTERVIEW: Ezra Furman, December 2015

Ezra FurmanHip Hop, Alien Music, Passover and Love: An Interview with Ezra Furman (13.12.2015)

©Francesca Nottola 2016

Since Ezra Furman’s fame exploded, delighting audiences in Europe and in the USA, the world is a nicer, kinder place. Ezra Furman is not only a fantastic performer, funny and intense: he is also a very intelligent, unique person who writes incredibly well. So, when he agreed to do a Skype interview with me, I felt very happy and privileged. When I called him in California, he appeared in a bright coloured top next to a sunny window, while I spoke from the unglamorous gloom of my English-weathered cave. Now accustomed to the glittering glory of the likes of BBC, Jools Holland, Channel 4 and The Guardian, Ezra is a bit perplexed when he sees my Lumpenproletariat room on his screen. I had thought I should perhaps set up a dazzling background, but then I hoped he’d forgive me for the DIY setting if I wore beads and lipstick. I think the beads worked.

Ezra Furman ‘Ehm, who are you…what are you …writing for?’, he asks, slightly worried.

Francesca Nottola ‘SILENT RADIO!’, I reply, proudly.

EF ‘Oh, Silent Radio, yeah!’

Relief. He’s not going to hang up just yet.

FN ‘How much time have we got?’

EF ‘Ehm, it should be less than…30 minutes’, and laughs, knowing he has just broken my interviewer heart.

FN ‘Ok, no worries!’ I merrily say, hiding the tears in my eyes, given that I have prepared roughly 2,000 questions. Silent Radio people don’t cry. Eventually, I manage to stretch it to a criminal 81 minutes that nobody will ever give back to Ezra. However, surely my pro-Furman argument will win him lots of new fans and he’ll consider that waste of time a good investment overseas, in the city that saved his music career right when he was going to quit: Manchester. When we spoke, on 13 December 2015, Ezra Furman had just gone back home after a long international tour.

FN Hello, Ezra! How are you?

EF I’m good, thanks.

FN Are you on holiday now?

EF I don’t know about a ‘holiday’, I’m not on tour. I’m home, but I’ve got work to do. There’s a lot of stuff I have to do to manage a music career. There’s a lot to do, you know? I have to decide what’s gonna happen, how much we’re touring and when, and how to do that and new releases in the new year and blah blah blah. There’s a lot to do, and I have to write a book also!

FN Oh yeah, Lou Reed! [He’ll be writing the 33 & 1/3 entry for Lou Reed’s 1972 album, Transformer. Out at some point in 2018]

EF Mmmm [nodding].

FN You anticipated one of my questions. You seem to be actively involved in managing every aspect of your career: music, touring, social media, interviews. Where do you find the energy to write great songs and do all those things too?

EF Well, I have people helping me. I’m not totally self-managed. I have a manager, Simon Taffe, who runs End Of The Road Festival, and he’s got his crew to help out. But yeah, I do. It has to be in my hands because I don’t want anything to happen that I don’t think it’s cool. I have to approve everything. I’d be surprised that anyone trusts other people to decide what’s gonna happen, what’s gonna get released. In the past, I’ve let things be booked for me, the tours. But it feels like my life is out of control and things just happen. And I don’t like that feeling. Sometimes you find yourself all booked up for your whole next year and you’re like ‘Oh, I guess I’m all booked up for next year!’ and it feels like somebody else is living your life.

FN Are you a control freak?

EF Maybe I’m a control freak, but I don’t think so. People that do stuff for me…that would have been maybe in the ‘90s… Who knows what would have happened in the ‘90s…

FN How do you feel about this huge attention around you now? You are quite famous everywhere now. Are you happy with it or are you getting stressed?

EF I’m getting stressed, for sure, but I’m happy. It should be noted that I’m not famous in the United States.

FN They still don’t get you over there?

EF I don’t know, there’s a following I guess, but it’s not like in the UK or most of Europe. We just played some shows in the US [in December 2015]. There were some cities where there weren’t many people. We couldn’t book a show, it was hard to book a show on a Saturday night and we thought ‘We gotta do something!’ and we ended up playing at this cool little community centre just by Facebook messaging this guy. It’s kind of DIY in the US, a little bit. We have a very good US booking agent who got us some really good shows, but we also got some for ourselves just by asking people on the internet.

Ezra Furman

FN Well, you are everywhere in the music press. I also read a review of your album, of ‘Lousy Connection’ and ‘Body Was Made’ on one of the most important Italian music magazines, Rumore.

EF Really?

FN Yeah!

EF Ok, so maybe I just have to accept that it’s true.

FN Well, it’s happening. I was just trying to understand if this attention, being famous and this pressure are already becoming a burden. It’s a full-time job now, as much as you enjoy it.

EF Sure, but honestly it’s getting easier, I think, because it used to be that we just had no money at all, trying to play some shows. We’d go around trying to play shows where nobody came and we were like ‘We know this is fucking good, we just know this is really good, and nobody cares!’ That was a lot harder! I mean, there is pressure now and it freaks you out a little bit. For me, what’s really hard is going on tour for a long time like we just did. That’s really hard for me, not having my own space and room to sleep in. It’s a funny thing: you can be famous and kind of close to broke, you know? Which is what…we are.

FN Are you guys broke?

EF Well, not broke, we are making it happen, but we can’t all get our own hotel rooms, for example. We are all trying to save money wherever we can. It’s a bit worrying: we don’t have other jobs, we can’t have other jobs if we are touring this much. If you are asking about pressure, some days yes: you get too much pressure, you get too tired, working too hard, thinking too hard about what people think of you and it makes you go crazy. It’s important to remember, though, that this attention has arisen just by doing whatever I think is cool, and that’s kind of encouraging, because sometimes I’m like ‘Oh, maybe I should do this, maybe I should try to please these people, maybe I should take this opportunity even though it seems uncool…’ I think the reason any of this started was because I was like ‘I’m going to write songs that I think are cool, make a record I think is cool and play shows in the way that I like.’

FN Does this have to do with Unknown Mortal Orchestra?

EF Oh yeah, it does!

FN You mentioned that in an interview with Michael Hann in The Guardian in 2014.

EF Yes. I was reading this interview with Ruban Nielson and the band in a magazine in Portland at a time that I was really self-conscious and really trying to think of ways to… please people I guess. I was in that mode of thought about what I should do. And then I read this interview with them and they were just: ‘Here’s the only rule: just do what you think is cool, never think about anyone’s expectations of what they want, ’cause they don’t know, you tell them what they want.’ And it’s so very true! It was important for me to hear that. And, right after that, I went home and I was thinking ‘I don’t have a record deal, I don’t even have a band exactly, but I’m just gonna make these two songs that I know exactly what they should be’. In a flash, I knew. That was the beginning of Day Of The Dog: ‘Tell Them All To Go To Hell’ and ‘Walk On In Darkness’. Those songs have a different bass player, not Jorgen [Jorgensen-Briggs]. He was already in the band, he just wasn’t around then. I called this guy that plays bass, because I was like ‘I have to this today, I don’t care, I’ll just pay whatever you want me to pay for the studio time. We have to make this right now!’. And then the direction became clear.

FN There are many videos of your performances online. I noticed that you have played a lot of shows and that you seem to give more importance to your appearance on stage now. Do you think that this significant increase in the attention you are getting now is linked to your choice of expressing yourself more openly through your image and with songs like ‘Body Was Made’ in which you discuss issues of gender and gender-policing? My impression is that since you brought into your music your liberating experience related to gender identity and affectivity more people got involved. It’s like you touched a nerve, or dug out some deep emotions. It seems that the new Ezra Furman – aspect and songs – connects with many more people. Could this be related to what you were saying earlier about being entirely yourself?

EF [Long pause] Yeah, I feel like the two things must be linked. In a few different ways, I came into a new confidence and it was over the course of a few years that I came to a slow realisation that I need to be what I am. I started to become a more whole person, a03 2015 11 16 Ezra Furman @Gorilla Manchester 104 more honest person and, as I did that, the music got better and then, as the music got better, more people got involved. Honestly, I don’t think gender performance had anything to do with the first good reception I got in the UK with Day of The Dog. I was wearing a dress on the front of that album, but you can’t really see that it’s a dress exactly, and I was sort of… testing the waters someway [smiles]. I felt that confidence in me and I felt that I was going for broke. I mean, it was called Day of The Dog for a few reasons, but part of me was like ‘Every dog has his day… This is going to be my best album yet, and if it doesn’t happen now, if success doesn’t find me now, I don’t know when it possibly could, because this is the best I can do’.

FN Which obviously is not true, because you made another album which is great…

EF Well, that was the best I could do then. It did feel like ‘If this doesn’t work, then I’m just gonna quit. If this doesn’t connect with people and start to make this music career more viable, then I’m gonna quit.’ And then it didn’t really work. I was doing that thing of touring around and not many people coming to most of the shows and I was like ‘Ok, it’s over, I quit. And then I’m gonna have to figure out what I’m gonna do next.’ And then, as I said, it was that show in Manchester [UK] that I was like ‘Maybe I should not quit. This should not be my farewell tour!’ But anyway, it’s true. This gender performance thing…I think I gained some confidence in myself and I realised that doing what I wanna do, being myself, destroying the filter that makes me feel like I’m in hiding was the key both to my personal happiness and gaining a little recognition.

FN It looks like the verb ‘connect’ that you used, and I think also ‘authenticity’, are key in making this happen, for any artist. I think that when artists are perceived to be themselves, the audience feels if it’s authentic or not, and obviously, when it’s authentic, the connection is stronger and that’s when that kind of reaction starts. If I get the feeling, from your music and lyrics, that you are authentic, then I come to see your show, I feel that positive emotion and I want to see you live again, and then I want to hear more music and I want to see how you evolve as an artist. I think the key is exactly that, becoming yourself and risking.

EF Yeah. A lot of people ask me ‘You are being so confessional! You are really talking about your life in your songs. Doesn’t that make you vulnerable? Is that strange to do? What is it, cathartic or what?’ And I think that it’s weird. I don’t know. Actually, maybe I just found things in my life to write well about. I would not insist on it, you know? I really like fiction, I like made up stuff and songs that are not autobiographical. In fact, I have a lot of that. I think most of my songs are kind of that.

FN Fictional?

EF Yeah, I mean they are fictional and confessional. There is a lot of autobiography, now that I think about it. I did lose the will to live in Boston in September, but I really do believe in fiction and I only use my real life when it works and I’ll change it if it doesn’t. I have no commitment to autobiography, I just wanna get the feeling across, and the feeling is what’s real, what’s from my life, you know? The feeling is always the only thing I am committed to communicating. I don’t feel the need to tell my story.

FN I get what you mean.

EF Something that’s weird, and it relates to what you said about pressure and attention, is: why do I talk about myself honestly in interviews? Why do I reveal this life information? I guess it’s just because people ask me questions and I don’t lie. I’m not a very good liar or I just tend to answer questions that people ask truthfully. But sometimes I look at artists who never really do many interviews or retain a mystery about themselves and I’m like ‘Man, I should have maybe gone that way!’

FN I think there’s no right way of doing it.

EF Yeah. My story, who I actually am, sometimes seems like… it might be useful for some people to hear. I read a lot of interviews with famous people I don’t know, not a lot, but I’ve read some. I read their biography and the story of their life and it’s been really helpful to me, it’s like ‘That’s a way to be’, it’s helpful to know that there’s lots of different ways to be a person.

FN You said earlier that one of the reasons you get stressed is that you don’t feel that having chosen music as a career is a secure option from a financial point of view, that you cannot rely on this passion-turned-job to earn a living. So, is this (earning a living with music) one of your urgent short-term goals?

EF I guess so. For example, if I decide I want to have a family, right now I’d be in trouble, and I’m not sure I’m ever going to be not in trouble if I continue to be a professional musician. I just don’t see myself making that much money, ever, from music. I don’t think people really do, at least. I read – this was a big deal – another magazine, I recall that made a huge impression on me. I think it was in 2012, maybe the New York Magazine. There was this interview with Grizzly Bear, the band. I mean, Grizzly Bear in 2012 were top of the heap, indie rock royalty. The interview was all about money as it was the Money issue, so they asked them about money and they were saying ‘Yeah, we are all really worried about money! If we put out an album we make money that year, but then we go four years without making money, and who knows if we are making another album. We’re all a little freaked out and we don’t know, we’re a little bit worried about money!’ Then I was just like ‘Ohhhhhh, I’m never going to make a comfortable living by being a musician! [laughs]. I’m not gonna get rich, I guess.

FN Who knows?!

EF Well, who knows, that’s true. But yeah that’s a goal, but I’m not too ambitious about money, I don’t care [laughs]. If you are going to be an artist, then artists are poor.

FN I know. But then you found a very good way of making albums, like the Kickstarter. That was great and it worked, right? Maybe it’s not a 100% reliable source, but it did work. Amanda Palmer uses crowdfunding a lot, for example, and it’s working well for her. I think it’s a very interesting way of securing this artist-fan exchange. You give me your art, it makes me feel good, I want you to continue and live comfortably so I’ll give you my money. Then you create something that you feel is good and then it goes on and on…

EF Yeah, that idea makes sense to me. Sometimes it feels like: ‘Why are there the ‘middle men’ then? Why is there a record label, etcetera?

FN Exactly, what’s your answer? What is their role nowadays?

EF What’s their role…Well they have infrastructure…and guiding ideas. If I want to put out an album, first of all they give me money. I don’t have to spend time trying to find the money to make the album, which is a huge deal. Doing the Kickstarter did work and it was great, but it was so difficult! It was so much hard work and that worked for the way I wanted to do that album, but it is a constraint that you have to work that hard. Also, I just had some money I could borrow, because the Kickstarter money I raised did not cover the costs of the album at all because I self-released it. My former manager at the time he had to do so much work! He filled his office with sleeves. We got the vinyl from a factory, then he got the record sleeves, then we had to put them all together and it was all stacked to the ceiling in his house [laughs] and you can’t always…not everybody has somebody who can do that for them!

FN But you’ve passed that stage now, you have a stronger fan base…

EF Sure, I could go back, there’s all the more reasons to go back to that…if I wanted to. To me is very much worth to have a label because they have the money, they’ve got the infrastructure, they make stuff that’s really difficult to try to do by yourself. And I think my energy is better spent on other things.

FN You mentioned that your brother had to call you…Is this your musician brother [of Krill]?

EF Yeah, Jonah.

FN Krill disbanded recently, right?

EF Yes.

FN Did you ever play with him?

EF We’ve played some shows together. We never really played much music together. We never formed a band or ‘jammed’. We show each other songs sometimes. He’s just musically in a different world than me. He has a very different relationship to music than I do. He’s really experimental and he really does things that are musically interesting.

FN You also do things that are musically interesting!

EF Yeah, but I think I’m interesting more on a songwriting level. I mean, I’m not doing music that you feel like the aliens made it, like Jonah is: strange unusual time signatures or chords, bizarre chord structures…

FN So you are not the Stravinsky of the 21st century?

EF Jonah is the Stravinsky of the 21st century. I mean, I have a little bit of envy of him and his talent. I mean, I’m happy with what I can do, but I just can’t do what he does. I’m really impressed with him and I try to be influenced by him and I can’t. He has influenced me in some way, I’ve learnt things from him. But he’s interested in music in this way. He’s interested in finding things out that can happen musically, whereas I am interested in finding things out about songs, what songs can be. That’s my main interest as a songwriter: what makes a song effective, great, interesting and powerful. Jonah is interested in that too, but he’s also interested in what weird things he can make a bass guitar do. He writes a lot of his songs in this tuning that has four strings and they are only tuned into two notes, something like that. He plays a guitar that’s not like anyone else’s guitar, that’s what I’m saying, it’s tuned in a different way, has a different set of strings and he almost invented his own instrument.

FN That’s very interesting! Ezra, did you study Literature at university?

EF Yes, and some philosophy also, a minor in Philosophy.

FN And based on what you’ve just said on your strength being songwriting as opposed to your brother’s skill in finding new sounds, would you say that you have found your sound?

EF No.

FN You haven’t?

EF Well, I don’t think so. I don’t know what that means exactly. I’ve found sounds that I like. I think that each of my albums is fully itself, but I think the next one is not going to seem like it’s been played by the same band or have the same sounds.

FN Would you be interested in going towards the direction your brother is following? Being more creative from a musical point of view?

EF A little bit, I’m working on stuff… But I think I’m more interested in arrangements more than the composition. I like simple songs, musically simple songs, and right now I’m interested in how you can take a simple song and do it in a strange way, or in interesting, unexpected ways. I actually think there’s definitely some of that going on in Perpetual Motion People. I think we did some unexpected things, even though there is something retro about what we are doing. You know, that’s the first thing people say ‘Oh, this old-fashioned rock’n’roll band…they’ve got saxophone solos and doo-wop vocals…’ I feel proud that we let those things influence us, although we did not make a record that sounds like those old records. ‘Lousy Connection’ takes elements of old music, but it really, to me, sounds like…I don’t know…

FN I think it’s a very modern way of being influenced by that music or those types of music.

EF Yeah. I was getting a little concerned because we have made some songs that really do sound like old records, and I did not want to do too much of that, even though it is really satisfying to be able to sound like an old record I love! There is something really satisfying about that! [laughs].

FN So, where are you going with your music now? Do you already know what’s going to happen with the next album? I’ve heard the newly released song, ‘The Prisoner’… [released 8 Dec. 2015]

EF That was a song that was intended for possible inclusion on Perpetual Motion People and then we did not keep it, for whatever reason. We worked on a bunch of stuff, it’s nice that that one can see the light today because I really feel proud of it. I’m proud of how the other guys played on it. Some of that clarinet work and the piano playing it’s just like: ‘damn, I can’t believe that guy is in my band! He’s really good!’.

2015 11 16 Ezra Furman @Gorilla Manchester 066FN Who is playing the clarinet in that song?

EF That’s Tim [Sandusky], the saxophone player. He’s good!

FN He is good! I like his jazzy solos.

EF Oh yeah, experimental noisy stuff.

FN I’d like to ask you about something else now. I’ve been following you on social media and I know that you wrote a song [‘Ferguson’s Burning’] about one of the many episodes of racist police brutality in the US. Sadly, I’ve lost count of how many have occurred recently.

EF Yes, it was the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. [on 9th August 2014]

FN Ferguson, that’s right. This is something that I really appreciate, that you use your presence online to discuss these issues and bring them to people’s attention. You could also not do it, because lots of ‘artists’ don’t risk mixing politics with show-business. Whereas you, probably consistently with the policy of being yourself, if something concerns you or upsets you, like this event did, you choose to express your views on these important topics.

EF It’s true, but I wrote a song only because I found myself able to make something good, write a good song about it. I have all kinds of political alarm, concerns and deep commitment to fighting things, but I wouldn’t force anything. That song was not forced out like ‘There needs to be a song about this!’ I’m open to being political, it seems silly not to be open to it, and I found myself able to do it in that moment. But it is a choice that I want to be political. I want to be a person who gets political in public. Considering there are all these avenues to say things online: status updates, social media, why not? However, I don’t relate to the social media impulse. Unless something is important, useful or interesting. I don’t want to photograph my food!

FN Thank god!

EF But then, you know, since I have Facebook, Twitter, YouTube [Instagram, Tumblr], if I’m feeling really strongly about something, well those things are right there and if I can say something about it, I don’t know why you wouldn’t. I guess, a little bit, it’s hard not to.

FN Some musicians might think ‘This opinion can take 10 fans away from my music, if I say something that is against their political views’, whereas you don’t seem to care about that, and that’s great! Some people do.

EF Well, I hope they leave! I would love to alienate racist people or, rather, I’d like them not be racist.

FN Would you say that your audience, in general, is diverse or is it more or less homogeneous everywhere you play?

EF It’s diverse in some ways. It’s age-diverse, I think people are culturally diverse, there’s gender diversity. Perhaps it’s not very much racially diverse.

FN It was definitely a diverse crowd in Manchester.

EF Yeah, I’m really happy to see people being visibly gender non-conforming at our shows.

FN Have you got any ideas as to why your audiences are not very much racially diverse?

EF I think it could be because of the genre of music we play. I think genres are divisive.

FN Your music challenges the borders of genre though, and rock’n’roll was created by African-American musicians.

EF Yes, but it just got so ‘whitified’ I guess, it got stolen by white people and black people went: ‘Ok, take it, we are moving on, we’ve got other ideas, bigger ideas!’ And then they made hip hop, for example. A lot of rock’n’roll, especially some retro rock’n’roll that I play, appeals to people worshipping The Beatles, Elvis, The Beach Boys and other people who stole it, you know? I mean it’s also true that: why would you still be playing that when there’s so much amazing stuff going on? I have been listening to Kendrick Lamar‘s album [To Pimp a Butterfly, 2015] I’m not the biggest hip hop head, but this Kendrick Lamar album is one of the best albums I’ve ever heard, of any kind. It’s got to be my favourite hip hop album ever, it’s so powerful! Such a powerful piece of art, so sprawling, so ambitious. Right now, I’m into this and also other stuff I’m listening to and sometimes I wonder ‘What am I doing with this old-fashioned band, I want music like this!’ Although, I don’t think I can rap, that’s one issue there. It’s the methods of making hip hop and sampling and the freedom with which it happens that’s got a lot to teach me, I think.

FN What are the things that make you very happy? I mean, in general, in life, of all sorts.

EF That’s broad!

FN I know, it’s so broad that, if you choose some things, it reveals what your priorities are and what matters to you.

EF Yeah, sure. The first thing I thought of was love [smiles], a person that I love, and I’m thinking of a specific person. We need to talk about them! That was the first thing. The second thing that came to mind was Passover.

FN Interesting!

EF Jewish holidays, and the rituals and practice a lot of the time just bring me a happiness that I just can’t describe. Passover is one of my favourite moments in the Jewish calendar, maybe my favourite. Third: the song ‘Love and Mercy’ by Brian Wilson.

FN ‘Love and Mercy’ makes you very happy?

Ezra Furman @Gorilla ManchesterEF Yeah, I’ve been addicted to it a little bit, that song in particular, lately. I only heard it on this past tour and I was so into it that there was stuff going on around me and stuff I had to do, like get on the phone about something, we had to get in the car and I was just running away, hiding to listen to it again. I was like ‘I don’t want to do anything except listen to this song one more time!’

FN I know the feeling.

EF And I kept thinking it was going to get old, and I still keep thinking I’m going to get tired of hearing it and I just don’t. It has only happened a few times that a song does that thing to me that I actually want to listen to it a hundred times. Even if I love a song, I don’t want to play it again and again. I just listen to it and then listen to something else and come back to it tomorrow, but sometimes…

FN I’ve seen this wonderful video where the legendary Cynthia Plaster Caster from Chicago asks you if you would be willing to pose for one of her famous plaster casts.

EF [smiles] Mmm, yeah.

FN And I found it very sweet that you said that your mother would kill her just at the thought of her doing this.

EF Yeah…[laughs]

FN So, it didn’t happen?

EF No, I didn’t do it.

FN What do you think of what she’s been doing since the ‘60s?

EF Oh, it’s amazing! It’s awesome! She is a friend of mine, and that’s just so where she’s at and what she wanted to do. It’s about exploring what being a music fan means and the sexual side of that and I just think she’s a real original!

FN Definitely!

EF And I admire her as an artist and as a person, her style of being. She loves penises and genitals, and she’s got all kinds of penises all over her house and I like that she’s so boldly unapologetic and embraces that with such joy, the way she treats music and genitals. But I didn’t do it. I was so honoured, I was just so honoured to be asked!

FN She wanted you next to Jimi Hendrix and you didn’t want to do it!

EF I did not want to do it. I know, there’s certain people in my life who went like ‘You’re crazy! why would you not!? It’s the greatest thing I’ve ever heard!’ But I just felt a little…I don’t know, I just feel a little protective of my body.

FN I would also feel protective of my penis, if I had one.

EF Yeah, since I already got the honour of being asked, I was just so happy with that! I felt bad, because I did not really mean it as disrespect to her or to anyone else who does it. I don’t think it’s gross or anything. It’s just that when it’s my own body, for whatever reason, I feel private about it.

FN Well, it makes perfect sense: what’s more private than your body? (well, your feelings too)

EF Yeah. You know, some people…There are also people in my life who would be shocked and, I guess, confused about why I would take off my shirt on stage. They’d go: ‘you are showing off your body in so immodest way…’, mainly those are religious people I know. I’m kind of in-between with all that. I’m in-between with a lot of things.Ezra Furman @Gorilla Manchester

FN Between religious modesty and sexual freedom?

EF Yeah. I kind of believe in both of them, you know? I think that Cynthia’s stuff is connected to something important that happened in culture which was the sexual revolution, and that was important in some ways, but it’s not happening now, there’s nothing interesting to me about hedonism or ‘free love’. We need more of a revolution of consent and a revolution of, I guess, really respecting women’s bodies and stopping violence against women. Some types of feminism did things to help with that, but I don’t think the sexual revolution itself did anything. That hedonistic thing of the ‘60s and the whole sex, drugs and rock’n’roll stuff, I have no interest in that. That’s not my life and that’s not cool to me. Some people ask me: ‘Oh, you are on tour, do you do drugs and groupies and have casual sex?’ and I’m just like: ‘do you wanna do that?’ I guess that seems really cool to them. That’s not cool to me.

FN Would you say you are more romantic? Do you think positive emotions and feelings are underrated nowadays?

EF I just think that relationships are something sacred actually, and I’m disturbed by people who treat each other callously and casually. I’m pro-love I guess, and I take love seriously and I think it has a lot to do with respect. So that makes me a little wary of casual sex. I’m not against casual sex, that’s just not how I operate and it seems weird to me that so many people want to have a lot of sex, that freaks me out a little bit. I’ve been hurt by it and I just feel kind of fragile with all that stuff, and I think people are more fragile than they let on.*

FN Has Kirsten Dunst ever replied to your song about her?

EF [smiles] No!

FN Never?

EF No! No acknowledgement, nothing.

FN Does it matter?

EF Oh no, that’s kind of…in the past.

FN That song is quite funny.

EF I know, but there was something real there! Celebrity crushes are dumb, but they are real.

FN Yeah, I can feel it’s very real in that song.

EF I was a little in love with her, but…

FN …she ignored you. You ‘want to be ignored’, so…

EF …she ignored me.

FN Anyway, she doesn’t deserve your love any more.

EF I think she still does. Kirsten, I’m still waiting! She probably thought I was really dumb. I could see her maybe going ‘These goddamn people! Why are they such freaks!?!?’

FN Who knows if she’s ever heard it…

EF If so, I hope I did not make her feel uncomfortable if she ever did see it. She probably never saw it. You know, she has actual stalkers, how does she know I’m not one of them!? Which I’m not! I’m not obsessed with her, I just had a crush on her…

FN From celebrity to celebrity: ‘I’m not a stalker!’ Thank you so much Ezra for chatting with me.

EF It’s been pleasant to talk to you.

*A 2016 update on the topic of casual sex: http://www.brooklynvegan.com/ezra-furman-tells-us-his-ten-cultural-experiences-i-enjoyed-in-2016/

3 thoughts on “INTERVIEW: Ezra Furman, December 2015

  1. Pingback: DAL VIVO: Ezra Furman and The Boy-Friends, Circolo Magnolia, Milano 6.11.2016 | noctula press

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