The only way I know of is that I learn by ear. It was a process. To me, you can’t write a book about learning to play something else until you’ve played it. I don’t think I could. If you haven’t played it, there’s no point.
That’s been the case for you for decades. You’ve tried and failed, but you haven’t given up. Tell me about why you don’t give up.
I’m very optimistic, because of my background. That’s how I’ve lived for 40 years of my life. I’m very excited that I’m making music. I know that it’s going to be really good. But I don’t have 100 percent conviction in everything.
You just told me, “A lot of artists are very positive,” so I assume there’s an element of truth in what you just said.
Not necessarily. I would guess that, in my generation, what you call success [is] pretty rare. I remember when I was younger, a certain part of the music business had kind of died. You had a lot of independent labels, and it was kind of, “Well, you’re the only one that can make this much money.” To me, it doesn’t make sense. It’s really just not realistic. You can’t make a living doing it.
I don’t know how many labels I’ve talked to that say, “Well, we can bring you this much money. I’ll take up a portion of your time and put it toward our art.” Like what? I’m not even sure how to think about that.
You were so dedicated — do you still feel that way?
Absolutely, totally. I still love it. I feel so happy whenever I’m making a record. I really feel like I have nothing else to do other than go out there and make it.
You’ve released a lot of records recently, including records and EPs with the bands The Dead Weather and Tame Impala. When you’re making your music, what artist comes to mind? Is it your friends or is it just an artist you admire?
I have an extremely close relationship with a couple of people. I get involved with artists I admire really strongly. It’s not necessarily about who it is. The best thing about my relationship with these bands is that they really get to me. I love them as individuals. But most of the time that I talk to them
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