ThisSmallPlanet is a blog about life and culture. "New Music Today" is the indie rock music division, featuring links to new music downloads, selected music articles from our favorite sites, and original writing, photos, and videos about music by mikedx1 (Michael Donnelly)
Thursday, December 7, 2017
"People Living On The Outside..." ThisSmallPlanet Interviews Bonnie "Prince" Billy on his new album "Wolf Of The Cosmos", Susanna, and a Divided America in the Age of Trump
Heather Heyer killed in Charlottesville, Virginia by a Neo-Nazi protester, August 12, 2017
Who is God and where is God
and what is he doing for you? Is it easy to pretend? Is it hard to look back at you? What is real and what is good for all of us? How can it be? That your convictions are gonna be valid to me... How can it be?
People living on the outside Living on the wrong side Living on the outside Living on the wrong side
What is true and who is true
and where is the truth now for you? Is it hard to confess to yourself? Is it easy to view? Who are wrong in your eyes and what will do to satisfy? How can it be that you want us to simplify? How can it be?
People living on the outside Living on the wrong side Living on the outside Living on the wrong side...
Bonnie "Prince" Billy has a new album out, Wolf Of The Cosmos. It's great.A crucial record for this moment.Many fans were puzzled; however, upon finding out that the album contained no new songs written by Billy, and was comprised of songs from the 2007 album Sonata Mix Dwarf Cosmos by Norwegian singer Susanna (Susanna Wallumrød) in its entirety, in its original sequence.
Billy released this statement on the album:
As other practitioners are leaving the room in favor of novel forms of recording and distro and consumption, we are left with a virtual PALACE, fantastical and real structures and practices. Like we are allowed into the museum at night. We can make a great essentially live record with great songs and great players because nobody else is? Wolf of the Cosmos…is about, as much as anything, direct engagement with recorded music. So step right up to the replicant.
I reached out to Bonnie "Prince" Billy for further comment. Like many Americans, I have been worried about the many divisions in our country (and indeed in our world, on this small planet). People divided by ethnicity, gender, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, region, religion, politics, culture, ideology, philosophy... This album touches a raw nerve. Billy responded:
"You've asked some of the very questions the recordis intended to raise...."
The conversation continued...
Why use footage from Charlottesville in the video "People Living"?
Because it works. We were mixing the record in mid-August. During the mix for "People Living", the song was fucking me hard in a brand new way. I asked Dan Koretzky from Drag City if he could find someone to pull footage from C-Ville to juxtapose with our jammer. He found David Andalman and Andalman in turn hit it further and firmer than I had imagined possible. And because for many people it's gone. Charlottesville is history. We can throw out a reminder that it hasn't gone anywhere, for those eager to move on.
Would you care to comment on the current divisions in our country? There seems to be so much division today: rural vs. urban, North vs. South, The "Coastal Elites" vs. "Fly-Over" Country, etc. Rural places like Kentucky offer hateful public figures like Jim Bunning (who I saw pitch for The Phillies as a kid), his successor Rand Paul, and anti-gay clerk Kim Davis. On the other hand, there are plenty of Progressives from rural areas, such as Johnny Cash and Steve Earle. Even Kentucky's premiere artistic family, The Everly Brothers, were a house divided, with Don supporting people like McGovern and Bobby Kennedy, while Phil supported the likes of Goldwater and Nixon. What can artists do to heal these wounds?
I'm trying to figure out if this is possible. I am doubtful that any artist can heal the wounds you speak of.
Why an album that is entirely covers of songs from someone else's album?
Because you hadn't listened enough to SONATA MIX DWARF COSMOS.
What does Susanna mean to you as an artist?
There's something in SONATA MIX DWARF COSMOS, and in Susanna's work with Morten Qvenild on the Magical Orchestra records LIST OF LIGHTS AND BUOYS and 3, that is close to the heart of what I recognize to be among the more compelling and valuable possibilities of recorded music. The music's power leaves the artist and gets to the audience with very little interference.