“You know they say New York is the city for dreamers, and I felt like when that dream ended, it chucked me out on the street and put me on the Q train out to Coney Island.”
The L Magazine: A couple years ago, we’d asked about the possibility of you playing the Northside Festival, and your agent told us that you were never going to play New York City again.
Jens Lekman: Oh, yeah.
Then, at the last Brooklyn show you had, you said that it was living in Brooklyn for a couple years that sort of ruined the city for you.
In a way. You know they say New York is the city for dreamers, and I felt like when that dream ended, it chucked me out on the street and put me on the Q train out to Coney Island. I had a bit of a beef with New York for a little bit. I guess it was just the sprit of it, of being there and not being very happy at that moment. But it was also because, you know, as a band you have to go to New York and I liked the idea of boycotting the one place you have to go to.
So have you forgiven us at this point?
Yes, I have forgiven New York. I played there a couple of times since then, and it’s been great. I love it again.
I read in a little blog post on your website, you saying that you were going to rehearse “two or three bands” for your upcoming tours. It seems like you’ve had lineups that have shifted a lot over the years, wildly different lineups from show to show. How do you start thinking about putting a live band together, and deciding what pieces you want with you for a particular performance?
I guess it depends on what season it is. If it’s summer, it’s nice to bring a horn section along. You know, because people want to have a good time and party. And in the fall it’s good to bring strings along, because people have come back from summer and they have been broken up with and are feeling sad. For this time, I’m bringing piano, violin, drums, and bass. It’s kind of a small band, actually. I want to hold it together a bit.
But you will actually be rehearsing other bands once your new record comes out?
I’m constantly rehearsing new bands. I can’t think of one point in the last eight or nine years that I haven’t been rehearsing a new band. Because people have kids and they get married and they have careers. It’s really hard to keep a band together when it’s not actually a band, and it’s just one person with other assorted musicians.
Have you ever wanted to get a core, ongoing band of four or five people, or do you always want the flexibility of having different pieces coming in and out?
If I could, I would definitely have a core band, because it would make things so much easier. But every time you put together a new band, it’s like the songs are all fresh again. I always tell the musicians I play with to add some flavor to it. It’s all like a fresh start, and I like that.
You’ve finished your next record, right?
Yeah, last Friday.