The Collected Wisdom of… Devendra Banhart


We’re generally interested in what our favorite artists and musicians have to say about their work and life in general — especially when they give copy as good as the endearingly batshit crazy eccentric Devendra Banhart. He’s got a new record, Mala, out this week, and the interviews surrounding it have been as, um, memorable as ever. In the first of a semi-regular feature, then, we thought we’d round up some of his more idiosyncratic quotes from over the years, on a variety of topics, from the nature of the universe to why his beard wears pajamas.

His music “[It’s] sort of like twinkly restaurant music, I guess, an Ethiopian restaurant with a bird, y’know, the soundtrack to the universal bussing of tables. Restaurant things other than eating, maybe cooking…” [via Perfect Sound Forever]

Songwriting “I just think all songs should be written about medieval feminists — five percent of songs can be love songs, another five can be miscellaneous or political, and the rest can just be about medieval feminists.” [via Pitchfork]

Inspiration “Everything in the universe… vans, cars, lights, goats, toupees, trumpets, microphones and shoes and pillows and glass and stages and flowers and heels and chins and lips and boots and rings and bells and stickers and rafters and boats and fish and fences and basketball and R. Kelly and… everything, you know?” [via Time Off]

Recording “We spent a quarter of Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon‘s budget on crystals. The label, XL, they struggled with it, but eventually they agreed. We had jasper, serpentine, lapis lazuli, jet, turquoise, mother of pearl, positioned all over the house, in circles, hexagrams, pentagrams, triangles, in every single corner, with the appropriate scents and essential oils sprinkled on them.” [via Guardian ]

Beards “I was born with a beard. We’re quite hairy down in Latin America. We don’t have to use sponges when we wash dishes. We just use our baby beards.” [via Spin ]

Beards, again “I’ve actually got little tiny pyjamas for the beard, with a little hole in the back if it needs to pee in the night. I find things in here. Stones. Tempura. Basketballs. Girls. Or a bee.” [via Guardian ]

Major labels “It seems futile to make a record that will make money, and that will allow me to get on a big label. That is totally hopeless to me. I don’t listen to any rock music or mainstream music. It’s all bullshit to me.” [via Free Williamsburg]

Major labels, six years later (after signing to Warner Bros.) “Selling out, to me, is this: when you change based on anything other than you. When you change what you do based on anything but the inherent necessity, the inherent must, that change is. Perception begets change. Honesty begets change. Destruction begets creation, which, in turn, begets change. Shit, man, humanity begets change. My point is that signing to a major is not selling out to me. Selling out is changing what you do to surprise people, to please people, to fit in or fit out, to be weird or to conform, to be anything other than you, to do anything that ain’t your thing, or looking for your thing. That’s selling out. Besides, Warner Bros. Records has an amazing roster: The Flaming Lips, Neil Young, Stevie Nicks, Built to Spill, Paris Hilton.” [via Prefix]

Drugs “When I was a kid, I used to stare at the ocean and be like, I want a tidal wave, man! And it coincided with my first psychedelic experience, which was that I stepped on a fish that had a spike in its head, its called a horny toad fish that digs itself in the sand and just leaves the spike-I stepped on it, and they have to give me a medication, but it is Venezuela in the mid-’80s, so everything is kind of back, so it’s probably medication from the ’70s… needless to say, it had a very strange effect on me, and the ocean turned vertically. I thought, careful what you wish for.” [via Arthur]

The nature of existence “See, there are four stages to matter: solid, liquid, gas, and plasma. I’m just one big sack of gas these days. I’m sorry, we’re really veering off the subject… I’m not a hippie; I’m not even me. But I’m contradicting myself by saying ‘I’m not a hippie’ and then saying hippie shit like, ‘I’m not even me.’ What’s going on? Who am I? Can I be K.D. Lang for the day?” [via Pitchfork]

Hippiedom “Do I find [being called a hippie] annoying? Sure, but there are far more annoying things in the world. I mean: thought control. Is the government using microwaves to control me? Let’s talk about that.” [via Clash Music]

Um… “I’m crapulous — which doesn’t mean crappy. It means that I feel like I’m gonna go crazy. Maybe I’ll do water shots off some Japanese bitches.” [via Pitchfork]

Um… (II) “It’s a great day — I’m trying to honour this great day by being myself. Like a bucket of old rags…and washed water? Water wash? Rag water? Yeah, that’s my all-time rockabilly band but they only do Sugar Ray covers. That’s what this is about, right?” [via Clash Music]