It was an honor to interview the mastermind behind Of Montreal and sole member of the enigmatic indie pop-rock band—however, they are much more than a pop-rock band and infuse a plethora of musical genres in their clever and incomparable work. Kevin Barnes was kind enough to take time to answer the following questions for our curious readers and bring clarity to their new masterpiece Freewave Lucifer F>ck F^ck F<ck.
Freewave Lucifer F>ck F^ck F<ck addresses the full spectrum of human emotion. How was the writing process different for this album?
I had finished a double album called ‘I Feel Safe With You, Trash’ just a few months prior to starting work on FLFFF and I wasn’t sure if I had the energy and inspiration to create another album so quickly. I just started experimenting in my studio without any real sense of what I wanted to create. That felt fun and easy. I started thinking about music and it’s relationship to time. I would start a song and not worry about continuity. I would create short sections and then use them as inspiration for the next section and then I’d build off that new thing…eventually I’d have a fairly sprawling and winding “song”. I flirted with the idea of chopping up all of the songs and moving all of the parts to different songs, but then I realized that wouldn’t really make it better, it would just make it different.
What song on Freewave Lucifer was the most difficult for you to write? Why?
None of them were really more or less difficult or easy to create. “Hmmm” is definitely the most sad though. I wrote it about the passing of my mother.
I’ve read that you experienced loss (very sorry to hear) and came out about your mental health. Your songs sound so happy and while the lyrical content is sad it tends to pull listeners out of the negative. Being a therapist (also) I feel that juxtaposition must be difficult. How did this inform the writing on Freewave Lucifer?
I do typically pull inspiration from my life experiences. Whatever is happening in my life at the time of writing an album usually informs the lyrical content. I don’t get much pleasure or fulfillment out of making sad sounding music. As a person who struggles with depression, I tend to try to create music that lifts my spirits. I think there are two sides to my psyche. On the one side is a very positive and playful creature and on the other is a more brooding and cynical one. I think that’s why a lot of my songs have a combination of happy and sad vibes.
Does adapting songs on Freewave Lucifer to live prove to be as rewarding as making them to begin with?
It’s a very different experience. I love the challenge of trying to perform complicated material live. It’s a lot easier to cheat nowadays though since you can put whatever you want in the backing tracks.
Was there anything in particular that inspired you when writing the very dancey “Blab Sabbath Lathe of Maiden”? (Being a heavy metal fan I couldn’t help to notice the references)
I wanted to create an art-disco track and so I pulled inspo from Prince, Abba, Bowie. Lyrically there are a lot of references to Neuromancer, which I had just finished reading. The lyric “Deride A Ride Swan/Gang a Bong” was an homage to T Rex. There are a lot of fun references in that song.
Do readers/listeners take away different things from your songs on Freewave Lucifer than you intended? If so, what messages would you like readers/listeners to take from your most recent work?
I’d like for people to realize that it’s a dense piece of work and for them to have fun digging into it and discovering all of the reference points and hidden messages.
Are there any artists you would like to collaborate with?
I’d love to collaborate with Thundercat.
Lastly, are you working on anything new? A tour for 2023/2024?
Yes I’m about 3/4 finished with a new album that will come out next year. We’ve also got a tour booked for the Fall and I’m doing a solo show in NYC June 4th at Le Poisson Rouge
Listen to Freewave Lucifer F>ck F^ck F<ck below:
Wow this interview is amazing, it makes me love Kevin even more
He’s one of the greatest artists of this century, fantastic interview.