The Home Key #15: You’ll Never Know!—An Interview With Julian Saporiti


Rick Moody

   Julian Saporiti’s band No-No Boy, whose output is a largely self-generated suite of ballads having to do with being Asian American (Saporiti is Vietnamese American) and with the historical oppressions faced by Asian Americans, began while Saporiti was pursuing doctoral studies in history at Brown University, beginning in 2015. As it happened, Saporiti, who was already very animated by the archives of the Japanese Internment, the Vietnam War, and similar narratives of reversal and disenfranchisement and privation, had an abreaction to the academic setting, and where others might have embarked on a dissertation in the traditional way, with some heavy theoretical armature, perhaps, and a received language to go with it, Saporiti started writing songs. The first album of these songs, largely recorded in Providence, RI, was 1942 (released in 2018, and available, like his two subsequent albums, on his Bandcamp page. It was followed by 1975 (in 2021), and Empire Electric last year (2023). In each case, Saporiti’s compositions feature startlingly deep engagements with historical narratives and the subjectivities that are occasioned by these. The songs are about people, I mean, in sometimes devastating circumstances, often finding moments of beauty, yearning, regret, even joy, amid the loss and grief. These people are in some thrall of noticing, despite oppression, and in some thrall of being noticed. In addition: a No-No Boy concert is often noteworthy for the great amount of historical film footage going on behind the musicians, too. And in this way the work of a historian has continued in Saporiti’s albums, even while the musician was doing, with startling grace, what musicians do at their best, which is to speak deeply to the humanity in us. Saporiti is a storyteller and a teacher, therefore, but an itinerant teacher, perhaps, ex cathedra, cast out from the world of academic orthodoxies. The casting out makes him especially sensitive, a finely tuned instrument of noticing. A humanist in deeds and actions, on the road speaking to and for the often unheard.
   Carrying, embodying, standing for, hearing, witnessing, there are days when this must be exceedingly hard to do, when you want, instead, simply to go for a hike. I devoutly wished to hear Julian Saporiti’s version of the story as soon as I heard him perform, and the results are below. Saporiti is gentle, funny, modest, also a truth teller. He’s an historian. We talked on Zoom, in preparation for a spring tour of campuses, including (in case you are in Boston in April), two shows at my academic home, Tufts University.

RICK: So: I’m just starting with the elephant-in-the- room question. At the Pao Art Center Show in Boston, you seemed to suggest, and I double checked with my wife to make sure I didn’t make this up, that you were going to retire the “No-No Boy” project. Is that accurate?

JULIAN SAPORITI: Yeah. I mean it’s hard to retire something that just kind of started. So by accident, I suppose, it’s kind of just like leaving a party. It was just a thing to do. It got a little out of hand. I had all this false support by being a grad student, so I could do it for a long time economically. But yeah, I think three albums is enough, right? I always think of an album like a book as far as the weight that goes into it and the time period. So three albums on one subject. It’s like even Tolkien stopped at three for Lord of the Rings. (Not that I don’t love The Silmarillion.)
   I feel like it’s just too heavy.
   I’ll still do like things with my colleagues. I’ll still do the academic part of it where I’ll go to a university—if they keep calling and they say you want to come out for a week and teach a little bit. That’s awesome. I love that because truly in my heart I’m professor, but just not in academia, if that makes sense. So I love these opportunities. A concert once a month is about emotionally what’s responsible for that program in particular. So even after I saw you and the audience in Boston, we then did New York and we did D.C. Because I’m working with a label again, I have to try to do radio things and be popular, I guess, or interesting in an NPR kind of way.
   It’s very tiring. There’s quite a bit of bloodletting at those concerts for me. As humorous as I try to be, as much levity as I try to bring to it. It’s a wonderful little thing that evolved a lot and still evolves even through this last tour that we’re going to do in the spring. And I find it quite beautiful to be able to punt it over the fence and not approach it as like a touring musician.
   And it’s also a heck of a thing to have your identity wrapped up in something, like I’m sure maybe you felt this way with some of your work that’s gotten more acclaimed than others. If you make something and then you move on, but your work kind of stays there.
   This, in particular, it’s dangerous stuff to be wrapped up in, like talking about war and imperialism and trauma and I find, as a result, people always clock me as much more of a smart, activist person than I actually am and stuff. I’m not that person. And, so yeah, time to get back to myself. Take what you need, leave the rest. That’s kind of where I am with it.

RICK: My conjecture was that it was like that period where Bruce Springsteen said that he was conscious of having to put on this Bruce Springsteen identity when he went out to do the shows. I think that was the period where he stopped playing with the E Street band. He had some radical inability to continue to prop up the notion of this particular character singing these narrative songs.

JULIAN SAPORITI: I had like a spiritual experience watching on the flight out to the East coast, on Delta, they had the “No Nukes” concert from Madison Square Garden. The music is good and the guy [Springsteen] is shaman-level charismatic. If you’re watching a fucking Delta inflight headrest screen and you’re … I’m orbiting when I’m watching that. And like my poor wife is sitting next to me, she’s doing like real law, immigration law stuff. She’s trying to get it all done. And I’m like, come on, watch this with me, because she loves Bruce too. Obviously, I’ve seen that footage before and the way I got into him was the live box set, ‘75-‘85. I couldn’t get into his records when I was a kid. I thought it was way too boomery. But then the live shit. And what he does with storytelling, first of all, he is another level. He’s like, you see why religions happened, like back in the day. I’m sure Jesus was just like Springsteen of the Middle East.

RICK: [Laughter].

JULIAN SAPORITI: Springsteen resonates. I think it’s a little different because I don’t have the weight of fame or anything like that. The expectations of thousands seems to be a truly debilitating thing. For me, more than anything, it’s the crush of ghosts. And having to re-invoke the archive every time I perform, even if it’s like for people who are not academic at all and don’t understand the context of what I’m doing. To sing a lot of the set, even some of the popular ones, like I’ve stopped singing a few of the songs permanently because I can’t, like I would cry. I can’t do that. But yeah it was just the crush of ghosts. That’s what I feel. And especially with the multimedia aspect, all the projections, all those dead people behind me, even though I’ve sort of shifted more to beautiful home movies than a lot of the old war footage I used to put on the screen. And internment camp footage.
   There’s something so enveloping about this project. And I either have to hollow myself out to do it or if I get really into it and a crowd I feel is really into it. I think that’s the toughest part because I get a lot of angry people after the show. And that’s how I was when I started this. And so maybe there are some parallels to the Springsteen thing or just anyone who, I wish I was like Bruce and could perform like that and I wish my looked that good in jeans. Maybe it’s just carrying around too much weight, the knees give out. And I think that’s just where I am with it.
   I think back to when I was a kid and we were on the road for four months at a time and just having wild adventures. That changes because you get older and you, you, you learn that you should be emotionally available to people. There are some people I know who the concert hits a little harder than the normal concert. Especially for people who aren’t academics who have never really gotten into this world of history or analysis. The whole goal as a teacher is to awaken something and encourage them to look deeper. We just played Seattle two nights ago and had a lot of people come up, this one kid who was like nineteen. It’s, like, thanks man. This is the best concert I’ve ever been to. And I’m like, well, you need to see a lot more concerts.
   Yeah, it’s just too much weight and no chance to catch the breath.
   Also, remember that this coincided with doing a fucking PhD. One of those things, like putting out one album and then doing a PhD is a wild, wonderful thing to accomplish with our limited brain space that we have as humans. But the whole triptych of albums plus the PhD is just too much. Now I have some other priorities, like I should be home with my wife and support her as she transitions from the last year of law school into whatever demanding job she’s going to have. And I want to walk around the forest, climb mountains again.
   Were you a big record-listener guy? You obviously love music, right? Like to the point where you reach out.

RICK: I play a tiny bit. I’m not a good player at all, but I play. The interesting story about Springsteen, for me, is that I had an older sister (who passed away kind of youngish in her middle thirties). She was three years older than me. So in the early and mid-seventies, when I was a middle schooler she was a cool high schooler. And she was very music-afflicted and she would constantly give me these albums that I had no preparation for and which then turned out to be, for me, gigantic. For example, it was she who first gave me Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd in 1975, which I had no preparation for. That album, without any context, was the scariest, weirdest thing I’d ever heard. She had many other equally potent selections, too. Somewhere in there she played for me The Wild, the Innocent, the E Street Shuffle. A record nobody knew about, back then, before Born To Run. It sold nothing. But that side that had “Incident on 57th Street,” “Rosalita,” and “New York City Serenade,” that was a transformative experience for me.
   But then Born To Run came out and I was like, well, this is for everybody else. I stopped being interested—for a long time after that. But I do really love that song “Racing in the Street,” from Darkness on the Edge of Town. Maybe one of the great pop songs ever made.

JULIAN SAPORITI: Back when I was doing some of the Japanese incarceration stuff—which is, like, my most scholarly proficient area—when I was reading all those archives, I read everything like it was sort of a Bruce Springsteen song. That was like the one poet-writer person who made the stories like the stories I was reading. All those kids in that moment and the simultaneity of that music. Songwriting more than any other form can give you of joy and despair on parallel tracks throughout the entire song. That’s kind of the best thing. And also like in the Vietnamese refugee camps. I’m always interested in people making something out of nothing. I just hated Bruce my whole childhood. I thought he was the opposite of all the punk do-it-yourself rock and roll that I thought was real, back when I used to think Kurt Cobain was the most real thing that ever existed, and then I got older than him and I’m just like, you fucking idiot. Why’d you do that?
   I remember in South Station two in the morning, the cop wouldn’t let me sleep on the bench for my 6:00 A.M. train. And so I just had someone else’s iPod, like a friend’s iPod and it had that live ’75-‘85 Springsteen, three-CD set. And I listened to the whole thing and it just killed me. Like the live articulation of “Thunder Road” where it’s just him and the piano and the glockenspiel and I was gone after that. I guess I picked it up from birth as something lame and the opposite of authentic. And then up until when I flew out on that “No Nukes” concert. I find him to be just like a gloriously lovely stupid conduit for America, white America in a way that nothing else is.

RICK: Laurel, my wife, would perhaps not be upset if I made clear that the way we got interested in your work is because her family was interned in Minidoka. Her dad, an extraordinary guy, you should meet him someday, who went on to teach American literature at Iowa State. He’s a huge Springsteen fan [Laughter]. That’s the funny part of it is like, here he is 80 years old or thereabouts. He has, I think, almost every Springsteen album. On vinyl!

JULIAN SAPORITI: Does he live out in Iowa still?

RICK: Yeah, but he spends a lot of time in Portland. His parents were in Portland.

JULIAN SAPORITI: That’s where they got rounded up from?

RICK: Yeah. I think they lived near that graveyard that you wrote the song about the…

JULIAN SAPORITI: Oh, the Gresham Pioneer Cemetery.

RICK: It’s not far from there, I think, where her grandparents lived. Anyway, that’s why we have a Portland connection. Let me ask some questions about the songwriting part, as opposed to just the history part, because I really wanted to ask about that too. The creative writer in me is really interested in how you take all that research and get it to scan properly so that it’s singable in a four-four context. How do you make the lyrics from this raw material with which you start a song?

JULIAN SAPORITI: In a way, my whole dissertation was advocating for a change in form. I advocate for people to use other forms for their academic work, obviously for public consumption, but also just to have better conversations. The multiple layers that songwriting can achieve give you are really important to me. Like when you’re talking about a Japanese internment camp. When you’re talking about, like, a jazz band in an internment camp, you better have a medium that can support a whole range of humanity. I’ve never found anything as successful as songs.
   When I was 15, I had a back injury. I had played a lot of tennis before that. Very David Foster Wallace, just the junior tennis player traveling around the country. And then I hurt my back. So I had to take a couple weeks off and in that time I got a guitar and my life just shifted [laughter] like completely. And so I’ve been doing nothing but filling up composition notebooks with better and better stuff as a poet, as a lyricist, as a writer, since I was 15, pretty nonstop, except for a little break when I retired to be a mountain-climbing bum in my late twenties. And so the form was fluent to me, and I think that’s the trick. All the research just accumulated. I learned how to research, that’s what grad school was good for. People taught me how to use archives and search on the internet. And so I learned that skill, but then I had a fluency with which to transmit that material to other people that most academics don’t have.
   The first twelve songs for this project happened extremely quickly all at once. I had found the story of that jazz band back in Wyoming. I had talked to my mom’s friend who was in this rock and roll band in Saigon. And I started researching all these like people who made some of the best pop music of the 20th century in Africa and Asia, in the Caribbean, all over the place. I got really into that. I got really into Asian American history through those bands. I started talking to contemporaries like Michelle [Zauner] from Japanese Breakfast about the oddness of growing up in the nineties and two-thousands before being Asian was cool.
   Till then, my protagonist was always a white person. Like he always looked like Steve Malkmus from Pavement or something like that. So I’m just a white hipster kid. And that’s why I can never write myself into my own songs, even if they were completely autobiographical, it’s just so fucked up. And what happened was all that research just accumulated and overloaded in the songwriting. My safety mechanisma, my escape valve: when life gets too complicated the only thing I can do is write songs. I’m not a particularly useful person in any other way.
   There’s an endless well of this material, or that was after I figured out this history research thing. The songwriting was already there to answer your question. There was no thought, just because the songwriting was fluent. But the hunger was there again, like it was when I was a teenager, for making art because I knew every archive that I want to dig through, every newspaper I read, every photograph I looked at could contain the nugget of a song. And that made me work four times harder than I would have normally as a grad student. I was waking up literally at 6:00 A.M. every day to comb through like video archives on the internet for two years and doing that till nine in the evening. It was like an athlete. And I just… because I knew there was like a story there, it’s like, wow, some of these songs are so neat.
   And I had a much more activist ideology a decade ago, more of an activist scholar ideology where it could be like, oh, I could change the world with one of these songs. Which I don’t think anymore. But there was a lot of motivation. The key was just putting yourself in the way of beauty, whoever said that. Standing in the way of inspiration and not moving until it just bowls you over. And then if you have a fluency, if you’ve done that enough as a kid or if you just put in the time, it’ll just come out. And that’s what happened. I just was at home in Nashville and it was right before my mom sold the house that I grew up in and she was cooking in the kitchen. I was in the dining room and I just was transcribing oral histories I had collected, old refugees or internment camp people and just typing out their words. And I had my guitar next to me and I just started singing those in the songs. And because I have done this for so long and used very easy forms for this project, like very simple forms of folk music, which I just literally grew up around in Nashville and have sung forever, they just slotted themselves in. The mechanics of it are just completely boring to explain because it’s just like input, the machine is just so finely tuned. And the songs just kind of came.

RICK: So according to some commentators who ought to know Bob Dylan thinks the song is done when he finishes the lyrics. I was wondering about that with these songs. Are these songs done when the lyrics are done? Though my contrarian observation is that the choruses (and the middle eights!) sure are great [laughter]. Like, the “Little Monk” chorus is amazing. The melodies are really good all over these records. They’re beautiful musical statements.

JULIAN SAPORITI: Thank you, man. I love Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan just like I love The Beatles and Joni Mitchell. The melody first people. And I studied classical composition when I was a kid, at Berklee. So I mean, that’s in there too, right? A lot of stuff has been inputted, I think. So there isn’t much work. The stuff I did in grad school, the first album, was just a bunch of demos I literally recorded with whatever grad students or undergrads were around the Orwig Music Building. [At Brown University.]

RICK: I used to play piano in there!

JULIAN SAPORITI: I would find some poor freshman who was playing piano and give them a piece of music. Hey, could I just record this and hold a microphone? That’s literally some of the piano you hear up the 1942 album. This recent one, Empire Electric, it’s much more music focused and I think it’s a better encapsulation of what I was trying to do partly because I had finished grad school. But I really appreciate what you’re asking because I never get to talk about the music with this.
   For NPR, it’s always like let’s locate your trauma and let’s get our diversity bingo points for the week [laughter]. And that’s great because then people hear the records. But yeah, I mean the music means everything to me. I think if you take apart some of the songs off the new album, like if you listen to “Minidoka” that is deeply layered. It was actually commissioned by the National Park Service, which was very lovely to get.
   With “Minidoka” is was about trying to figure out what it was like to have a thousand interned people cheering for you as you hit a home run, as you round the bases there. Is it the same pure joy as little League or Yankee Stadium? Or do you catch sight of the guard tower when you’re rounding third and heading for home? What does “home” mean when you can’t go home after you’ve hit a home run?
   I thought about that picture of the ball field at Minidoka. There are beautiful pictures from the WRA war relocation authority archive of these bros just kind of catching balls and hitting balls and there’s a little bit of video. And that moment was so interesting to me. What an interesting person to write the song from the perspective of, because an outfielder in particular is occupying such a lonely place for most of the game. You just stand there. It’s quite nice on a lovely day, but nothing happens, especially with amateurs. Not a lot of fielding happening. So it’s like the philosopher’s position, maybe. And so I thought of this outfielder who is maybe a little articulate, maybe he was one of the folks who went to the kabuki plays they put on in camp. Or he went to the classical music record concerts that I had read about in the camp newspapers.
   He was digging some Debussy, or some mind-expanding shit, that week. Because they had played it on the gramophone or maybe he had gone to the library and read I don’t know, whatever books they would’ve been reading in the forties. And he was like a real thinker, a real philosopher-athlete. I thought about all the things I had read in the newspaper about how they had to start digging a swimming hole because a kid drowned in the canal where they were swimming initially, or how there was this article about search party sent out because there was a model plane club, like a remote control plane club, which is crazy, right? And this kid got lost searching for this plane that went over the fence.
   He jumped the fence. They had to send a search party.
   And thinking about all these little beautiful vignettes that are just kind of snuggled into the archive of the paper that the internees printed out themselves. And that’s a song and that’s just the lyrics, right? So you have all this excavation of archive into those lyrics. Again, this just came because, well, Dylan says: know your song well before you start singing.
   Most of this work was recalled from memory. I wasn’t thinking, oh, can I put something in good here? I just used the things I felt from the archive, the things I kept with me. Those things would come out in songs. But musically that song is built upon samples from Minidoka from the site, which I’ve walked around many times by myself with others as my teacher. Some of the water, some of the wind there, some of the gravel of the walking path. And then there’s this sample I recorded of this woman, Chickie White [Frances “Chickie” Ishihara White], who was a jazz singer in that camp. She’s the one who sang “You’ll Never Know.” I interviewed her a few times over the phone and once I said would you sing something for me, please? And she obliged and that’s just her pitched up and down, this kind of ghostly sample.
   I don’t know if she’s still alive [She would be 97 this year! –ed.]. She was old as hell, like most of them. And she moved, she did live around here, but she moved. So I lost touch with her. It’s all these different layers, right? That song is a good example of how being liberated from grad school really helped me because I couldn’t explain what I was doing to my professors, even to my music professors who kind of co-chaired the dissertation. The lyrics take on such importance. Like that’s why songwriting isn’t taught in lit programs. Because it’s alchemy. It’s poetry that is elevated by music and it’s music that’s elevated by the poetry and it’s very hard to get that across academically. Every place I’ve gone I’ve tried to start a songwriting class or a songwriting program and you wouldn’t believe the resistance to the idea of a songwriting professor.
   Anyway, “Minidoka” is a humble little song. Obviously you guys have a personal family thing to it, so you might listen to a little closer, but the detail is so rich and I think if only for myself, that’s what I really love. It’s a proof of concept that actually came through there.

RICK: I also wanted to ask about arrangements. Because especially the strings are incredibly great on Empire Electric. And it’s funny, as we are speaking, I’m also writing a piece with these other guys about “Now and Then,” the so-called Last Beatles song. Which is also about a great string arrangement, at least in part. Nobody really bothers to have a great string arrangements anymore. But your album is full of them.

JULIAN SAPORITI: Like I said that’s what I studied when I was at Berklee. I was really interested in orchestration. I was really interested in all the colors of the orchestra and because we were right next to New England Conservatory, I was very lucky I could go hang out and meet people. I liked to sit with a bassoonist for hours and just listen to them practice. I think that’s why I like bird watching so much. It’s very similar to watching the bassoonist and all these other weird instrument players at the New England Conservatory when I was a kid.
   My earliest music was in this band called The Younger Public. It was an indie rock band pre-streaming. So we’re pretty vacant online. But it was a popular band. Like if you’re like a hipster in England around 2006, there’s a 27% chance you might’ve heard of us. That’s where we were. And that band was nine pieces. Because we were all college kids, I didn’t have to pay them or anything. There was a whole string quartet in there and one of the kids went off to be a professional music supervisor and film scorer. And the violinist in that band, Kristen, plays on the No-No boy stuff. I wasn’t, like, personally composing and writing out parts. But Seth who mixes the records, he’s a great film scorer and composer. He studied like real hard composition at Berklee with me and he produced the first two records and on this one I sang parts to him for the strings. And then he would make the parts. I think some of it is synth plugin stuff on the computer. But fucked up a lot. So it sounds pretty cool. But like on “Little Monk” I trusted him and my old band mate Kristen to come up with whatever they saw fit. But I’ve always loved bands like Belle and Sebastian, who did real baroque pop stuff, or, like, The Left Banke. Obviously, the Beatles stuff. But then also if you’re talking about top five concerts, my probably second or number three favorite concert of all time is Ballios’s Damnation of Faust at the Boston Symphony Orchestra. So it’s like Tom Waits at the Knoxville, Rage Against the Machine at the Municipal Auditorium and then like Ballios at the BSO.

RICK: [Laughter]

JULIAN SAPORITI: I love sound, and that’s where that comes from. But also like there was more of an effort too because when you start this stuff, part of this project was figuring out yourself. And this really was because growing up in Nashville, I didn’t learn about any of this historical stuff, these histories, and the best way for me to learn about it was through singing it after researching it. And I realized I was kind of being dishonest when I was first at Brown. Maybe not dishonest because that maybe implies intent, but I wasn’t looking at the histories three dimensionally. In American studies and cultural studies, especially these days, it’s very much capital T trauma first. Which after a while just started driving me crazy. Because it was almost disavowing my mother’s experience or some of my friends who had been in the internment camps too. They would say stuff like, yeah, when I was in the band we had a great time, but like the brown PhD cultural studies person in me would be like false consciousness or something like that, subject of the empire. Which had some truth to it for sure. But then I felt, like, let me just transmit their truths first, whatever they are, however they’re affected whether it’s my mother living through war and or these people living in camps or whatever history. Let’s just try to get at that.
   And again, that’s where I think not only the lyrics of that sort of parallel juxtaposition of emotions can come into play, but then also the music, right? So, like, I think on this record it’s a lot more successful weaving in whether it’s the archive samples of my own field recordings, or the beautiful forest sounds that were the background of my mother’s childhood with some artillery fire, also the background to her childhood. Making sounds and instruments out of those things became really important. Same thing with “Minidoka.” I quoted a line from Monica Sone’s Nissei Daughter, about her family’s time at Minidoka: “under diamond-cut stars, horizon to horizon.” That’s just a paraphrase of her words and her feelings. And if you listen there there’s a beautiful high-pitched bell sound just arpeggiated very quickly, which to me sound like snow in moonlight reflected in the diamonds of snow, and that’s made of another singer from the internment camp’s voice, just cut up very small. There are little details like that. When I started this project, it was much more narrow-minded. It was using these histories more than creating something from these histories, I suppose.
   I felt very overwhelmed when I got to Brown because I had just come from Wyoming and before that I had been a touring indie rock guy. And then before that I was a southerner, a southern male, born in 1985. So Brown University in 2015 could not have been more different. And I… I hated it. I… I fucking hated it, a lot of it. I met my wife, so like always grateful there. And my best friend Diego, and another friend Juan who dropped out of Brown to join the Air Force actually. So that’s my crew. But culturally I’ve never been in a place that was more ill-fitting. All my clothes just felt too small, I guess. I was trying to fit into something that didn’t work at all.
   What we started talking about was: why hang it up? Because I think I did it okay. And that’s the best I’m going to do as far as albums go with Empire Electric.

RICK: So that would imply then that music will continue, excepting that No-No Boy is going to be retired.

JULIAN SAPORITI: Yeah. Except maybe when universities can pay my bills. We’ll put it that way. The touring, the setting up the projector, the telling the stories that are longer than the fucking songs. But let’s get back to singing some love songs and making music just for the sake of it. And was it for the sake of the song, like Townes Van Zandt said. I’m not like the person who I think most people meet when they come to the concert or when they listen to the records. I’m a very disappointing person to your typical younger activist type. Like we had these wonderful Vietnamese activists who in their early twenties come up to me after the Washington DC show and hand me literature about what they’re doing and in town. It’s all stuff that I support and it’s is really great. But yeah, I just… I kind of got ruined by… by a monastery got ruined by some readings, got ruined by falling in love, truly understanding what that’s like and yeah, and just… and… and the idea of like happiness, I guess. Taking happiness seriously. I’m just sort of at a place, man, where it’s just like, I want to be an artist, man. I just want to like sit down, like just get off the fucking internet, stop promoting stuff and just write. Just write words and music and see what happens.