I've never written a blog post to you before, but this guy named Adam Goldberg asked me to yesterday. Do you know him? He's the Jewish guy in Saving Private Ryan who gets stabbed to death by a Nazi. He's also the guy in Dazed and Confused who yells "I wanna dance!" Plus he's a screenwriter and a photographer and he has a music career, so when he sent me his new video for "Stranger's Morning" I said sure, why not. I should also mention that he's really, really good at Vine, and is a little weirded out by the recent addition of video to Instagram. If you don't know what I'm talking about I'll let you find out for yourself.
Adam's band is called The Goldberg Sisters, and his new record is also called Stranger's Morning. That video up there is for the title track, and it was shot entirely on Vine, that thing I was just talking about. Adam asked me to write to you because we were talking about writer's block and I mentioned a trick I've been using: whenever I can't find a way to describe something, I just throw "Dear Mom" up top and then explain whatever I need to explain. Then, when I'm done, I delete the salutation. Donezo!
When I told Adam about this trick he made me promise to structure this interview as a letter to you. We also talked about his new music, his creative process, and (of course) Vine.
Photo by Adam Goldberg
Adam Goldberg: Ben?
Yes. Hello. I'm calling with regards to your new video and album. Where are you?
I am in my office at my house in Los Angeles. Now I am walking out of my office. I was just in the hall, but now I'm in the living room. OK, walking through the foyer, now the hallway… And now I'm in my kitchen, opening the door for my dog.
What's your dog's name?
Ludlow. It's my girlfriend's dog. She used to live on Ludlow Street in the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
Is your girlfriend the one who's in all of your Vine videos?
Yes. Her name is Roxanne.
Do you guys collaborate musically?
She was on the first two records. This last record I did everything myself, but on the first two she played violin. Then when we played live in various situations it would be me and Andrew Lynch, who engineered this record, and Roxanne when we went to Europe to promote the Goldberg Sisters record. Last time it was just Roxanne on violin and Andrew on keyboards and sampler and me doing guitar and keyboards.
Tell me about your new record, Stranger's Morning.
There were a lot of different titles but at the end I decided to go with something a little more conventional and my first record was under this LANDy monniker and it was called Eros and Omissions which was a bit obscure and punny. I wanted to make something a little more classic. It's ironic, because the title song was one of the last ones written. I actually think it was the last one. And it points towards a direction I'd really like to move in.
Photo by Ben Parks
How do you write music?
Well, I started a Tumblr that was a virtual journal of photographs and music. I mandated that for a year I would upload a photograph or a recording every day for an entire year.
Did you finish out the whole year?
Oh my god, yes. It was driving me crazy. There were these incredible limitations I started to place on myself. When I was done I was uploading two or three songs a day, maybe five pictures, or even ten. It was an insane person's blog.
I've been watching all your Vines and I think that you are really fucking good at it. Your new video is completely made of Vines, right?
Yeah, it is totally made of my Vines. I’m sourcing them and then sort of cutting them up. Minor things. The last shot is run backwards, for example.
Are you going to take the new music on the road?
I doubt it. I’m not a fan of playing live. I toured last time because I had a record label. This time I’m not mandating. I really hate it. I like it when it works or whatever but I never really feel I’m up to it because I don’t have a working band it is always very frantic because I have to put people together and suddenly be a live player.
What happens to you when you have to play live?
Well, I almost always get a migraine, so I'm usually playing through that. I also get paralyzing fear. Sometimes I'll deal with it by having a much more aggressive performance. I just don't really think about how my songs will translate live.
You do so much stuff... music, acting, writing... Which one is the most difficult for you?
Honestly, the most difficult thing for me to do is write. Music is difficult, but it has always felt intuitive. With writing, there are times where I'm just sitting staring at a blank page, which is one of the most wrenching experiences anyone could ever have artistically.
How do you jumpstart it?
I use the kitchen timer method. I turn off my email and my phone, and sit at my desk. Then I set a time for an hour, and at the end of that hour I stop working. During that hour I write as much as I can. I always stop at the end of that hour.
Lately I've been doing this thing when I have writer's block—I just write "Dear Mom" at the top of the page and then describe whatever it is as if I was writing it to her. Then at the end, I delete the salutation. It's been working for me.
Do me a favor and write this whole piece to your mom and please don't cut the citation.
That's fucking bad ass.
That's how we should end the interview. Thanks Adam!
Mom, if you're reading this you should totally comment at the bottom of this post. Also, if you're on Twitter, you should follow me on Twitter! Thanks! - @b_shap