In three words, what was so bad about New York?
Let me think. I really want to make them good — they're not gonna be very good! [Laughs] Stressful, congested and cold. I mean, it's not cold all the time, but being someone who grew up in Los Angeles, I'm not used to cold weather, and call me spoiled if you want to, but even this weather [it was cloudy the day of the interview] bums me out. I really feed off of the sun and the warmth, and that's really what I love about California and Los Angeles and Southern California in general.
And in New York I also felt I could never decompress — it always just felt like, wake up, walk to the subway, get on the subway, take the subway to school, get off the subway.
Were you living in Brooklyn?
I lived in Brooklyn, yeah. Walk to my classes, did all my classes, got back on the train, went home, did homework. It just started to become so mundane — it was the same thing every day and I never felt like I could relax. Here I live in a neighborhood where I have to walk two or three blocks to get to a main street. I don't hear fire trucks and garbage trucks and all the shit that you hear in New York all the time. I mean, I do really love New York and it's a great place and I love visiting there, but it just wasn't the right place for me to live.
Did you do any music while you were in New York?
No, no. I had no inspiration to do music. I just came up with so many excuses at the time [not to play] music and I just wasn't inspired. I was there for writing, I was doing creative nonfiction, and everything that I was writing was about California. My professors were like, "Is this all you care about?" And I was like, "Yeah, that's really it."
You were a mini Joan Didion.
Yes! Exactly. Joan Didion is someone that I've always loved and I've been reading her for a long time, and she was sort of the same way, but she actually really liked New York and she really wrote a lot of great stuff about New York. But I think there's a big difference between a person from the West Coast and a person from the East Coast. I really, truly believe that. There's two different sorts of mind-sets: People from the West Coast are more sort of laid-back and we're definitely stressed out and neurotic, but it's a different sort of stress and neurosis than happens in New York. L.A. can be a rat race — there's traffic, there's tons of people, you have to drive, and there's lots of things about it that I dislike — but a lot of it has to do with the fact that I grew up here and I'm happy here, and when we tour I feel really homesick, and the moment we get back I feel instantly like I'm in my comfort zone. I see a palm tree and I get excited! [Laughs]
It's tempting, of course, to make jokes about the fact that she left here sort of because of the cold and sort of because of the fire engines, but mostly because she was actually really busy while she was here, and, uh, having to do stuff is the absolute worst—just like Joan Didion always said. But what I find really interesting about her quotes is that, even while explaining why she's so drawn to her native L.A., she only has really terrible things to say about it: Everyone there is "stressed" and "neurotic." It's a "rat race." The traffic is really bad. There are too many people. She recognizes that the connection she feels to a particular place is irrational and completely beyond her control, which is sort of nice. And something we should understand quite well.