The Survivors: Beck
Beck happened to share a Lollapalooza bill in 1995 (Sonic Youth  headlined) with Pavement’s Stephen Malkmus, whose recently-released  album, Mirror Traffic, Beck just produced.  Both of them wrote  and sang and explored the pop potential of noise and negotiated rock  semi-stardom with a bemused detachment that lazy critics read as, like,  ironic or whatever. And their refusal to make definitive  voice-of-a-generation-ish statements established them as two of the key  voices of a generation defined by its distrust of its own voice, not to  mention its complicated relationship to career ambition. “I think  there’s been several points where doors opened up and I might have gone  more commercial, and had greater success,” says Beck, 41, who probably  could’ve written eight sequels to his novelty-folk-rap hit “Loser”  before anyone complained. “I just never was interested in going in that  door.” He talks with GQ’s Alex Pappademas about the stigma of having a huge hit, and coming  to cultural ascendancy in the post-Kurt, pre-bling ’90s. The full interview is here. A small bit below:

GQ: Do you ever say to yourself, “Whoops, I  kinda missed the boat on that sound”?   Beck: All the time. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thrown out  stuff. I had a point about two years ago when I took a bunch of the  songs and just completely turned them inside out, and even those—now,  like, they would be coming in the wake of a lot of other stuff that did  the same thing. I don’t know. It’s an interesting time, because things  are moving so quickly. You could sit on an idea for longer when I was  starting out, and it’d still be okay. My first single, “Loser,” sat  around for two and half, three years. It was a good three to four years  old by the time people really noticed it.
GQ: And then it came out, and everyone reacted like it was the newest  thing imaginable—the voice of the moment.   Beck: Yeah, I know. Before it had come out, I was convinced that it  was just old news, that it would be irrelevant. There’s something I like  about working on a piece of music and then letting it sit for a while,  but now, I think if you sit on something, it will become irrelevant  really quickly.
GQ: The list of artists who’ve had something like a “Loser” in their  creative life—a huge novelty hit, right out of the gate like that—and  then gone on to be accepted as artists and become people an audience  wanted to hear from over and over again—that’s a fairly short list.  There’s very few people who pull that off. Was there a point that you  realized, “Okay—this isn’t some fluke thing that’s happened. I’m going  to be around for a while. I’m going to have a career doing this”?   Beck: I think I always did the opposite of what you would do to have  a career. When I did Odelay—for the time, that was not a commercial  record in any respect, and I think everybody working on it, from my  management to the record company, looked at it as sort of a creative  experiment, and expectations were pretty low. I don’t remember anybody  who I worked with, who was around, saying, “These songs are great.  People are going to love this record.” It was nothing like that; it was  just—people thought it was an interesting experiment. I knew that was  probably the last thing I’d get to record that a lot of people might  hear, so I wanted to make something that was interesting and not  something just trying to ride on the success of “Loser.” I think there’s  been several points where doors opened up, and I might’ve gone more  commercial, and had greater success. I just never was interested in  going in that door.

[Photograph by Mark Seliger]

The Survivors: Beck

Beck happened to share a Lollapalooza bill in 1995 (Sonic Youth headlined) with Pavement’s Stephen Malkmus, whose recently-released album, Mirror Traffic, Beck just produced. Both of them wrote and sang and explored the pop potential of noise and negotiated rock semi-stardom with a bemused detachment that lazy critics read as, like, ironic or whatever. And their refusal to make definitive voice-of-a-generation-ish statements established them as two of the key voices of a generation defined by its distrust of its own voice, not to mention its complicated relationship to career ambition. “I think there’s been several points where doors opened up and I might have gone more commercial, and had greater success,” says Beck, 41, who probably could’ve written eight sequels to his novelty-folk-rap hit “Loser” before anyone complained. “I just never was interested in going in that door.” He talks with GQ’s Alex Pappademas about the stigma of having a huge hit, and coming to cultural ascendancy in the post-Kurt, pre-bling ’90s. The full interview is here. A small bit below:

GQ: Do you ever say to yourself, “Whoops, I kinda missed the boat on that sound”?
Beck:
All the time. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thrown out stuff. I had a point about two years ago when I took a bunch of the songs and just completely turned them inside out, and even those—now, like, they would be coming in the wake of a lot of other stuff that did the same thing. I don’t know. It’s an interesting time, because things are moving so quickly. You could sit on an idea for longer when I was starting out, and it’d still be okay. My first single, “Loser,” sat around for two and half, three years. It was a good three to four years old by the time people really noticed it.

GQ: And then it came out, and everyone reacted like it was the newest thing imaginable—the voice of the moment.
Beck:
Yeah, I know. Before it had come out, I was convinced that it was just old news, that it would be irrelevant. There’s something I like about working on a piece of music and then letting it sit for a while, but now, I think if you sit on something, it will become irrelevant really quickly.

GQ: The list of artists who’ve had something like a “Loser” in their creative life—a huge novelty hit, right out of the gate like that—and then gone on to be accepted as artists and become people an audience wanted to hear from over and over again—that’s a fairly short list. There’s very few people who pull that off. Was there a point that you realized, “Okay—this isn’t some fluke thing that’s happened. I’m going to be around for a while. I’m going to have a career doing this”?
Beck:
I think I always did the opposite of what you would do to have a career. When I did Odelay—for the time, that was not a commercial record in any respect, and I think everybody working on it, from my management to the record company, looked at it as sort of a creative experiment, and expectations were pretty low. I don’t remember anybody who I worked with, who was around, saying, “These songs are great. People are going to love this record.” It was nothing like that; it was just—people thought it was an interesting experiment. I knew that was probably the last thing I’d get to record that a lot of people might hear, so I wanted to make something that was interesting and not something just trying to ride on the success of “Loser.” I think there’s been several points where doors opened up, and I might’ve gone more commercial, and had greater success. I just never was interested in going in that door.

[Photograph by Mark Seliger]

  1. rebekaknocks reblogged this from gq
  2. westernfeelings reblogged this from gq and added:
    you beautiful man you
  3. builttolearn reblogged this from gq
  4. daydreamntn reblogged this from gq
  5. room421 reblogged this from gq
  6. i-c-elegans reblogged this from gq and added:
    Photograph by Mark Seliger
  7. sukwanambar reblogged this from gq
  8. humbrahombre reblogged this from gq
  9. thee-artiste reblogged this from gq
  10. hardcoresoftcore reblogged this from gq
  11. hellyesbeck reblogged this from thirtysomethingbopper
  12. supan-va reblogged this from thirtysomethingbopper
  13. keobrien reblogged this from gq
  14. theperksofnotbeingafaggot reblogged this from gq
  15. sexydruggz reblogged this from gq
  16. cutthiscity reblogged this from gq
  17. jayonrait reblogged this from gq
  18. mvposey reblogged this from gq