A few weeks ago Ariel Pink pulled up to my place in an Uber town car. He had a publicist from his record label, 4AD, in tow. The artist, whose mind-bending new album, "pom pom," came out Monday, lives nearby, and since his house was a mess and we didn't feel like doing it elsewhere, the location made sense.
We ended up speaking for much of the morning about his music, his early years as a songwriter, his technique, the ways in which he's worked to avoid any sense of "progress" in his music and other topics. A full feature about "pom pom" based on that fascinating conversation will run in Sunday's issue of The Times and online.
But as a way to mark the release of "pom pom," the artist's first record minus his long-running "Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti" moniker, we figured we'd tease a few of Pink's comments.
Specifically, amid the advance publicity surrounding the record's release, Pink, born Ariel Rosenberg, stirred up Twitter through dismissive comments about Madonna's recent work and by beefing with 4AD labelmate Claire Boucher, a.k.a. Grimes.
Below, some excerpts from that conversation, which began with Pink craving a cigarette and acknowledging that in regards to "pom pom," he's now "plugged in to the world of first impressions."
"I guess I could have gone on forums for the last two albums to get a read on what people are saying before it comes out," continued Pink, "but being on Twitter now for the first time, I'm seeing the extent to how much my album has been leaked, what the reception is in full advance, and what that means and how it impacts the actual reviews. There's got to be some weird sort of pressure on the writers of certain magazines to, I guess, go one way or the other."
So this is a new experience.
Yeah, things are coming in, people are saying certain things. I'm seeing actual personal messages that I sent to people yesterday -- and having them come back to me via Twitter.
I gave somebody a three-word response on my Facebook yesterday – and I barely respond to anybody on Facebook. I was like, "Share the vodka," because somebody was waxing a little bit sentimental that I had gotten so big or something like that. All the sudden there's a magazine that has a #sharethevodka hashtag. I'm like, is this really how it works? It's incredible. It's like, "Hooray, he answered! Oh my god. He actually – the God spoke!"
But surely there's a part of you that wanted this attention.
Dude, if it's anybody's fault it's gotta be mine.
You were in "Talk of the Town" in the New Yorker.
I never thought of myself as capable of stirring up, generating, the actual drumroll for a record, you know, all the press. I always thought, "I could go the route of saying some controversial things and have it explode, just do it like that. But I don't do that." But of course it wasn't really up to me. I actually do have some controversial things to say, apparently, and they were exploited very, very effectively by other people. And that was great for us, somehow. And the whole Madonna thing just kicked it up a notch like nothing since "Round and Round."
I think it's worth noting that you and Grimes are on the same label. Part of me thinks this is manufactured.
It was a real serendipitous thing. I think it's been a joy to actually – I feel like they're all scurrying to the back room at 4AD going, "Oh ... Ariel just won't shut up." And then it's like, "Wait a second. OK. Whew." Then it's like, "Oh no, he's said something else!" Then it's like, "Oh, this is great! He's getting so much attention!" They can't tell if they want me to put a sock in it or not.
So there's not behind-the-scenes jealousy, or a big back-story that the readers don't know about?
What, between me and Grimes? No.
I thought maybe you guys were giggling behind the scenes.
No. I wish that were the case. [He points to the 4AD rep] I think you should drop her right now. Honestly. I don't understand why we're on the same label. How could you guys do that to me?