"It always seems impossible until it’s done."
You can read a review & summery of my NYU lecture here. More lecture dates coming soon.
I saw Dev Hynes speak at NYU last night. Here’s my post, as published on NYU Local:
Photo by Nick Pitman
Last night, Program Board invited Devonté Hynes, creative force behind Lightspeed Champion and most recently Blood Orange, to speak at Kimmel on how having synesthesia influences his…
I don’t ever want to know why. If you know why you’re doing something, don’t do it! If you don’t know why you’re doing something, nor how you think about it, do it!.
The reason we work… is to ask, ”What is it?,” not to say what it is.
I think mystery allows us time to dream. It allows for the knowledge within us to come forth. Like listening to a kite.
PHOTO BY DANIEL SHEA
♥ I produced this song for Tinashe called “Fugitive”.
Get it now along with her amazing BLACKWATER mixtape. ♥
I am standing in a doorway looking through clouds of blowing dust to where I am told there is still uncut forest. Yesterday I drove through miles of stumps, and charred remains of fires where, in ‘56, there was the most wonderful forest I have ever seen, all now destroyed. People have to eat. They have to get fuel for fires.
This is north-west Zimbabwe in the early eighties, and I am visiting a friend who was a teacher in a school in London. He is here “to help Africa,” as we put it. He is a gently idealistic soul and what he found in this school shocked him into a depression, from which it was hard to recover. This school is like every other built after Independence. It consists of four large brick rooms side by side, put straight into the dust, one two three four, with a half room at one end, which is the library. In these classrooms are blackboards, but my friend keeps the chalks in his pocket, as otherwise they would be stolen. There is no atlas or globe in the school, no textbooks, no exercise books, or biros. In the library there are no books of the kind the pupils would like to read, but only tomes from American universities, hard even to lift, rejects from white libraries, or novels with titles like Weekend in Paris and Felicity Finds Love.
There is a goat trying to find sustenance in some aged grass. The headmaster has embezzled the school funds and is suspended, arousing the question familiar to all of us but usually in more august contexts: How is it these people behave like this when they must know everyone is watching them?
My friend doesn’t have any money because everyone, pupils and teachers, borrow from him when he is paid and will probably never pay him back. The pupils range from six to twenty-six, because some who did not get schooling as children are here to make it up. Some pupils walk many miles every morning, rain or shine and across rivers. They cannot do homework because there is no electricity in the villages, and you can’t study easily by the light of a burning log. The girls have to fetch water and cook before they set off for school and when they get back.
As I sit with my friend in his room, people drop in shyly, and everyone begs for books. “Please send us books when you get back to London,” one man says. “They taught us to read but we have no books.” Everybody I met, everyone, begged for books.
Taken by Daniel Shea for the BLOOD ORANGE Fader Magazine Cover Story.
To celebrate my Fader Magazine cover I made a 68 minute live mixtape featuring unreleased songs/dubs/edits/live vocals from Samantha Urbani, and additional instrumentation.
Guess who’s black?
I’m on the cover of the new issue of Fader magazine.
I also made this 68 minute long live mixtape to celebrate featuring unreleased songs/dubs/edits/Live vocals from Samantha Urbani, and additional instrumentation.
Today, I took the familiar 1 train uptown to Lincoln Center. i say familiar because it’s a journey i’ve done numerous times since moving to New York a little under 7 years ago. The first time, if i recall correctly, was to see The Nutcracker, the second, a Puccini opera that was being screened (with subtitles) outside of the Avery Fisher Hall in the summer of 08.
Today was a different reason. It was the open to the public memorial of Lou Reed. Advertised as “no speeches. no live performances, just Lou’s voice, guitar music & songs – playing the recordings selected by his family and friends.”
I first thought that I had gotten the date wrong, until I heard the rumblings of “Pale Blue Eyes.” I followed the sound into the courtyard of the Lincoln Center.
There, amongst the trees, and huge glass windows of Juliard, speakers, blasted out Lou Reed songs, from album to album. I walked through the center.. and felt heavy.
I’ve listened to Lou Reed my entire life. That’s not to say that I’ve been the biggest fan my whole life, in fact, in all honesty I only got “obsessed” and really valued how much his work meant to me around 5 years ago. I ordered a book online containing every lyric he had ever written, I would go sit in Washington Sq park and listen to “Street Hassle” on loop and read the lyrics as if reading a dictionary/fiction/non-fiction all at the same damn time… trying to soak up new vocabulary, new meanings.
I’m very vocal about reasons I live in New York. Reading “Please Kill Me” when I was 13 is at least 75 per cent the reason. As the young lad in Essex England these things casted a huge beautiful shadow/light over me, as i was beaten up, spat on, called a fag etc etc etc or whatever… as i fantasized, and read about circles of inspiring humans. I aspired to be like them.
Phillip Glass in particular, is someone i’ve always looked to, creating his best music the older he gets. These strong minded people, aren’t just people, which is probably, like Lou Reed why they feel eternal… and not pigeon holed into a world where “oh you’re not 18? we won’t listen to your thoughts” (which is strange when you think about it because i’m pretty sure 9 times out of 10 if I had the choice to talk to a teenager about life or a 75 year old ma, i’d choose the elder, although i get it, innocence and lack of structure etc yeah yeah, i get it i get it…) they’re cultural institutions that helped forge strong mentalities I hold true today.
"Why do you make so much music ?!" Well, why not? Absolutely nothing bad can happen in the world from someone trying as many things as they want, and pushing forward in life… living, doing whatever it takes to be happy. Why be sad? No one wants to be sad. I’m not disregarding tragedy, or sadness when I say that, you must understand. I’m just simply stating, i don’t want to be sad. People like Lou Reed kept pushing forward, never stopping, never relenting, putting their happiness, and the happiness of people they love at the forefront, obviously so be it ti the disdain of others, but there are ways around that of course of course of course.
My friend Adam sent me an article a couple of days ago, it stated that the greatest asset that The Beatles had in regards to their success was their arrogance, and that usually.. at age 18 or so, we realize certain things “aren’t possible” and reality sets in, but that never happened to them… they believed they could do anything and everything.
They were right, we all can.
I walked through the Lincoln Center courtyard. I thought about my life, where I’m at today, a couple days after an album, that feels like i’ve worked on my whole life, is released. I’m in New York. i’ve been in New York.. for so long now, yet no time at all. I’m here. Lou Reed is dead. A focal point for the reason i’m even here is dead. People die. A couple weeks back, I found out that somebody I love, so very much, more than anyone could ever know, my entire life, my world. Is seriously unwell. It pains me. I want to fall down, buckle over, every second of the day, with this thought in my mind. It’s felt like i’ve been walking amongst an earthquake ever since, my foundations, which I thought were so solid in life have been disrupted, but this was my mistake, because nothing is ever certain, and that’s why we have to keep going, and do what makes us happy, or at least work towards what makes us happy, no matter how impossible, or hard it may seem. Why do we fall out with people? It’s so silly. I’ve fallen out with people over such stupid things in life. I’m sure we all have. Does it matter? Really, think long and hard. Does it matter!? It’s silly. Solange, I love you. you’re a talented beautiful soul and meeting you has changed my life. Sky, i’ve known you for so long. I have no ill feelings for you, I only wish you well, and hope you find happiness and don’t rely or worry about what people think of you, because no matter what we do in this world, someone somewhere is going to knock you down and have a rebuttal. But that’s life, we make ourselves happy and those around us.
I burst into tears. I walk towards the corner of the Public library and look off at the trees. I cry for 30 minutes straight. I think about Lou, I think about the person I love, I think about everything i’ve gone through to get to where I am today, I think about time, time time time. what a crazy thing time is. Our biggest asset, out worst enemy. i don’t want to waste anymore time. It’s time for me to leave. i see Phillip Glass arrive, with a tear in his eye. Time is the strangest thing i’ve ever known. wtf. I walk to the 1 train, and go back downtown.