Disco Balladeer (For Now): An Interview with Destroyer’s Dan Bejar

06/20/2012 4:00 AM |

Oh, I despise playing solo. I’ll probably never do that again in my life. Maybe I’ll never go on tour again in my life, period. It’s too nerve-wracking, and also it’s just too distant from how I hear things in my head. There’s nothing I hate more than the sound of me playing guitar for a long time. I am really just enjoying not playing that instrument. My interest in recording rock music songs in a traditional band setting might be at an all-time low.

Do you think there’s another record to be made within Kaputt’s sound? Or is that just the self-contained record where Destroyer sounds like that?

I don’t know if I’m interested in doing another pop record. And that’s what Kaputt is—a Destroyer pop record. That being said, it’s kind of a careful construction as far as the melodies are concerned, even though it’s mostly built from improvised parts. There’s a focus on arrangement to it that I’m probably going to continue. I’m not sure I have that much vested in the world of disco balladry. I don’t really like it as a form, but I find it easy to sing to. I don’t know if that’s a natural marriage made in heaven… or hell.

The way that a lot of people ended up talking about that record, or experiencing it, was that they were… surprised, I guess, to be enjoying those sounds. It was an elevated take, or maybe a tasteful take on that kind of music. In general, do you think that certain styles of music are inherently tasteful or distasteful? Or is it just 100% execution?

Well, I can’t really express myself in real time on an instrument, as a composing tool. I think that if I could, I would have a more loyal or admirable stand when it comes to styles of music and what is tasteful or what isn’t tasteful. But I don’t.

I spent maybe ten years trying to be a rock n’ roll poet singer, and I’m not sure that’s necessarily my forte. I don’t know if being a lounge crooner is my forte either, but I’m kind of into it. In my mind, what I think people most reacted to was the absence of my voice. (Laughs) I don’t know if people like that, not hearing me.

You’ve said you wanted to focus on being a singer more. In the past year of doing that, do you think you’ve become a better singer?

I don’t know if it’s better. When I put down the guitar for this record, I felt like it was a good, kind of necessary move. Maybe it was emblematic of something. All I’m doing when I’m on stage now is closing my eyes and trying to imagine my voice. I’ve had to overdo it a bit, emptying myself out and being this kind of black entity. There’s an absence on the record which is kind of interesting. But I don’t know if that’s like, my lifetime calling. I can probably start at that point, but inject a little bit more of myself into it, and still think it’s pretty cool. Stay calm, but also inject emotion, somehow.

You had also said the process of writing lyrics was a lot different for the last record was than for previous records…

The entire record was written as a series of voice memos. Not just the lyrics, but the melodies, everything was just mental notes to myself. Before that, you know, I would write things down like a writer does.

How is writing songs by recording your thoughts different from scribbling things down on a notepad?