As the Fleet Foxes get ready for their next world tour, Robin Pecknold, the Fleet Foxes lead singer, spoke with Pitchfork about songwriting, authenticity, touring, and more. You can read the whole article here, but below I’ve highlighted some of the more interesting things.
-Do you ever get writer’s block?
I write all the time but often abandon things I don’t think will go anywhere. It’s rare that I’ll labor over writing something that doesn’t feel like it will turn into a keeper. Sometimes I do get writer’s block but it’s more of a writer’s doubt– I’ll try and write but nothing goes anywhere because I start thinking everything sucks. I’m looking forward to doing things more intuitively in the future, just going with whatever happens and not immediately categorizing it as potentially good or bad or original or whatever.
-How do you know when you’re done with a song?
The simpler songs are just done when the lyric has been stated; the more complex or band-oriented stuff can go in a million directions. So I’d say a song like “Bedouin Dress” is never ever done, it’s just finished. We could go back and do new versions of all of these of varying quality so it’s tough to say that they’re complete or definitive, especially looking at them from the inside, knowing how much revision went into them. It’s more about being OK with how it is, and also just general fatigue over working on stuff, that determines when a song is done. There are a couple of songs on the album I wish we were still working on.
– It’s easy to get caught up in the idea that everyone is constantly thinking about how and why their music works…
Especially with genres where there’s an authenticity question. There are certain genres where you have to prove your authenticity– you stand behind the sampler, and you have to prove why you’re better than the other guy standing behind the sampler. You want to think about certain styles of music as being reflective of a certain culture or a certain time or a point of view. You don’t want it to be just an intellectual exercise.
– I mean, it’s a very contemporary concern.
Right, because every time you pick up an instrument now, it’s not always out of necessity– for a certain kind of person, it’s a choice. With time obscuring things, it’s easy to see [the other way] as more pure. At the end of the day, for people in this position, you just need to make something that feels like you’re expressing yourself honestly, something that you’d want to listen to. The rest of the aesthetic is kind of bullshit, and I don’t mean that in a negative way– just that it’s a choice.
– And that honest self-expression is what people respond to, anyway– it’s cheesy, but we all listen for heart.
Yeah. I just want to feel like I’m getting to know somebody.