A nocturnal cacophony of pots and pans, moving objects that take his breath away, and that singularly affected voice: Bradford Cox talks to us from his home in Atlanta. The reigning Deerhunter leader, who has been an authority in indie rock for more than a decade, stretches the words of his elastic voice, echoing his body, whose Marfan syndrome, the genetic condition with which he was born, has lengthened the extremities. From the end of the phone line, the threaded discussion around a sense of the end of the world is part of the continuity of Why Has not Everything Already Disappeared? new album which revives in beauty with a sublimation of the worst to which the group had accustomed us. (Photo RMV Shutterstock, SIPA)
Do you express a wish or a fear by adopting Why Has not Everything Disappeared? for title of this new record?
I like the present, nostalgia is only a redigestion of it. I have never been nostalgic for my previous albums and have always preferred to experiment where I feel less comfortable. However, I was nostalgic for other times that, from the 40s to the 70s, were crucial moments for music. If you want to compare it to previous albums, it stands out in my opinion especially by its very aggressive battery. These are mainly things of a technical nature that we wanted to change. The psychological question does not arise. Yet this album has nothing in common with the previous ones. You are French, right? Most influences for this album are also, starting with the situationists, although I blame them the same as punks: they analyze youth and disaffection with a pose of distrust but, with a socialist perspective, they do not understand this working class they were trying to defend. However, they were very advanced in their ability to deconstruct the aesthetics that border our culture. Since Guy Debord, I believe that little has really changed, his predictions have even rather confirmed. The thoughts of Jean Baudrillard have also infused this album since he wrote the book that inspired the name[[Why has not everything already disappeared? L'Herne, 2007, note]. They are authors who fascinate me since puberty.
Read alsoDeerhunter, last album before the end of the world
Why do these influences explode particularly now in your music?
That's what's bothering me right now, and it's the best answer to the rise of nationalism, racism, and individualism. People are more and more strange, even in France or in Europe – which was supposed to be much more advanced intellectually than the United States – I see a lot of regressions, anti-immigrant measures, closed minds. France for us, however, is the new thought, the vanguard, but once again it is only a nostalgia, it is no longer true. Nostalgia is a lie, it carbons to images of the past that are false.
On this album, you open Deerhunter to the musician Cate Le Bon to production, singing and harpsichord …
I wanted to work with her and it would be better for me not to work with women anymore. I prefer the female perspective, I prefer the female technique, besides we work to the maximum with technicians when we play live. Of course, I feel a little stupid to make these generalizations, but working with men for so long becomes a brake, they always have the same answers, the same intuitions. Women are less attached to traditions. All my heroes growing up were women, starting with PJ Harvey, Laetitia Sadier of Stereolab or Pauline Oliveros. And by the way, I prefer Simone de Beauvoir to Jean-Paul Sartre.
On the opening title Death In Midsummer you evoke voices that have called you and opened your eyes to what is falling apart …
It's typical to speak texts but I write them in a semi-conscious state, and a sentence like that comes out of nowhere. It could mean something important but also have the only interest to be the only one that can pass the verse to the chorus. There is very little question of personal feelings on this album.
Sure What Happens to People …
You are clever, you have found the only title capable of contradicting what I have just said. Except that I will not talk about it. It's very rare for me to talk about personal things, and this is a very difficult situation, related to death. I can not say more. I do not try to send messages to the world because I do not like society. She is doomed and I am as lost as everyone. Making music never helps me find peace, then inner peace, I do not believe it. It's impossible to create something new by being in peace.
Is it important to you that Deerhunter in this lost world leaves a legacy?
It's already the case. It sounds arrogant but it has already happened. Most groups of my friends have only released two albums. We have survived and that ours are good or bad does not concern me, even if I find them all extremely good. We do not write albums to entertain people, to stick them in pubs or to make people want to fuck. We do not care about kissing or selling, that sort of thing. I grew up in the working class and I never anticipated or wanted this kind of recognition as a professional musician. I can realize this success without feeling embarrassed. The only thing that could sign the disappearance of Deerhunter is my death but we know that in music it creates a sudden interest for the public. So that does not scare me.