ANXIETY WITH AUTRE NE VEUTMarch 9, 2013
Autre Ne Veut, translated as “I want no other”, is the experimental R n’B soundscape of New York musician Arthur Ashin. With the release of his new album “Anxiety“, this sexually charged collection of tracks spread like wildfire around UO HQ, melting us into a world of honest anxiety and brutal emotion.
The rise of Autre Ne Veut stems from his earlier recordings back in 2011, the release of the Body EP (Hippos in Tanks) being of particular success. Recording in his own bedroom studio, Arthur created a unique sound familiar to that of Frank Ocean or The Weeknd, pouring his heart over experimental noise and unusual rhythm. His live performance is as much a talking point as the music itself, a visual display of a man crazed by the truth, almost as if he’s alone in his world unaware of the audience spectating.
With the whole HQ hooked, we made a call over to his NYC pad in Brooklyn to find out more about our new favourite artist. Here’s what went down…
Hey Arthur! Where are you right now?
I am making some tea and eating granola in my kitchen!
Cool. You live in Brooklyn right?
Yeah in Green Point.
We’ve been watching loads of your videos and couldn’t help notice how much emotion goes in to your live performance. What goes through your head on stage? Are you in some kind of zone?
Yeah, I definitely black out the crowd for the most part. I force myself to recognize it once I am fully locked in but yeah I spend the first while zoning out for sure.
We read somewhere that you improvise a lot whilst you’re singing, is this something you do live or is it a recording thing?
Yeah, I was in this rock band at college and I wrote the songs, but couldn’t remember the lyrics to save my life. So I just started this practice of Anglophonic glossolalia you know, that turned in to something where I ended up singing more actual language. If I can lock in to something that’s good and works every time I will, but my brain doesn’t seem to hold on to words that easily.
Well it seems to work every time, but has it ever gone wrong? Have you ever gone on some abstract tangent of lyrics?
No, I tend to like get trapped in the same type of place. I don’t think its ever got too awry.
What would you say inspires you apart from music?
Sorry I’m eating breakfast… This granola is actually really good!
I’m interested in David Cronenburg and Michael Haneke. I like the way that these directors, also plenty of others, do this thing was they not only create a consistent visual kind of mood throughout an entire film, but also throughout their entire career.
They have such strong voices and their voices are obviously not embedded in this idea of actual voice, so I try to take that level of cohesion and kind of quality and put it in to music. I thought a lot about David Cronenburg when trying to make music that was gooey, uncomfortable, but familiar at the same time. So you know, a lot of stuff.
Compared to the new recordings which we’d guess are done in the studio, do you miss the old stuff? Where you got to sit in a room and write music yourself?
No not at all in the slightest. I mean I still have a home set-up; so anytime I want I can still do it that way. A lot of my demos I record with friends and stuff, just fun stuff! I love the studio, if I could be in the studio as a full time job as a creative producer, like a real studio everyday, I would be happy.
Would you say you like recording music more than playing it live?
Oh yeah, definitely. I mean performing live is great and I love doing it every once and a while, but I’d do it once every two months you know. That’s my ideal; it just takes a ton out of me so when I’m on tour I just feel like a shell of myself, its really high energy, and super engaged performance. Plus, it’s a lot to do day in and day out.
We have some more abstract, lighthearted questions for you. If you weren’t making music what would you be doing?
Probably a PHD candidate in a clinical psychology. That was the direction I was on.
Has your interest in clinical psychology influenced your music?
Yes and no, it’s more like repurposing cathartic extreme of consciousness.
Here’s a strange one, if you had to pick four other artists to be in a boy band with who would you pick?
See the problem here is that there are all these different levels of control that are depending on who I pick. Miguel is incredible, it would be funny to have Justin Timberlake in a new boy band. I was just talking about this with Dionne, who’s from Montreal. Do you know Dionne?
So yeah we were just talking about it two days ago, I had to pretend who was in my boy band too. So yeah that would be it!
Nice. So let’s discuss the album cover for your body EP, everyone has said it looks like lady bits. Was it on purpose, or was it a genuine sexy mistake?
Nooo, it’s supposed to be intimate, sexual, a little grotesque and beautiful. It’s not genitals; it’s a man’s hand, a man that I have never even met! I mean obviously it is pretty clear that it is a provocative nod to internal genital space, and since men don’t have that I guess it couldn’t be anything else could it!
A lot of your lyrics are very sexual, how do you feel that people know you that intimately?
I haven’t experienced anyone coming to me and telling me that they had this really amazing sexual experience or while listening to my music… yet. But I have to stay in hidden most of the time so maybe the world is hearing it more than I think they are.
What’s one song that always makes you dance?
Right now it has to be Fuckin’ Problem by ASAP Rocky, I can’t get it out of my head. It’s constantly playing.
That always makes you cry?
Its gotta be something on Van Morrison Astro Weeks, but I don’t know maybe Ballerina.
Tell us a joke
The one that I have is a little long, but I’m going to try and do it quickly.
So, one day a baby polar bear comes running home from school and he looks really worried. The momma polar bear and the poppa polar bear are like ‘Honey, what’s wrong?’ And the baby polar bear says ‘Momma and Poppa, am I a real polar bear?’ They both laugh and say of course you are a real polar bear.
So a couple of days go by and the baby polar bear and the poppa polar bear are making some kind of Igloo house, everything’s going well they are having a good time. Then baby polar bear just gets that look on his face, this kind if worried look., ‘Poppa polar bear am I a real polar bear?’ The poppa polar bear goes ‘Of course son you are a real polar bear’..
This sort of starts happening more and more regularly you know, the whole family is worried about him they don’t know what is going on. One day the grandparent polar bears are in town and momma and poppa polar bear are all at the table. There eating dinner and having a good time, and baby polar bear gets that look on his face and Momma polar bear is like ‘baby polar bear what’s going on? Why are you so upset? Its been like this for too long.’ Baby polar bear says ‘Momma polar bear, Poppa polar bear, Grandma polar bear, Grandpa polar bear, am I a real polar bear?’ and they all say in unison ‘yes you are a real polar bear, why!? And he says… ‘Because I’m freezing’…
And with that we let Arthur finish his Granola to turn our attention on a Spotify playlist full of Autre Ne Veut tunes…
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