Skyler Skjelset Stuns with Shimmering Single "V C" (KEXP Premiere + Interview)

KEXP Premiere
Jasmine Albertson
photo by Spencer Bray

14 years ago, in our cloud-covered corner of the country, childhood best friends Skyler Skjelset and Robin Pecknold started a band. Only two years later, the then-22-year-olds had already achieved the kind of critical and commercial success from two EPs and a debut full-length that bands spend decades of touring, recording, and hustling trying to accomplish. It’s an indie rock Cinderella story.

Back in 2020, where the world is the strangest it’s probably ever been, Skjelset is on the verge of releasing his fourth solo album under his name. After spending the past three records making experimental, droney instrumentals that are a far cry from the harmony-laden indie folk of Fleet Foxes, Back in Heaven is his first foray into “traditional” melodic song structures and is by far is his most accessible record yet.

Out on August 28th, the record is nine songs that were recorded over many sessions at Trevor Spencer's Way Out studio out in Woodinville, Washington. A whole bevy of recognizable names provided contributions to the record including his Fleet Foxes bandmates Casey Wescott, Morgan Henderson, Christian Wargo, and Matt Barrick, as well as Hamilton Leithauser, Lou Hayat of the Dove & the Wolf, Hannah Cohen, Cassandra Jenkins, Hanna Benn, Takako Minekawa, Emmy the Great, Charmaine Lee, Julianna Barwick, Sean Kwon from Yeah Baby, and Binki Shapiro all contributed vocals, while Trevor, Eric Slick of Doctor Dog, Christopher Icasiano of Bad Luck, and Willem de Koch from the Westerlies all additionally helped fill out the instrumentals.

Skjelset has generously shared three prior singles off the album, “Cobalt,” “The Angel,” and “Sayoko.” Today, KEXP is excited to premiere the fourth and final single before the record’s arrival, “V C.” At a little over seven minutes, the song is an immersive experience, with complex but hazily elegant dream-like arrangements that you step into like a warm bath. On first listen, it seems like a love song, with lyrics like, “It’s like I’ve swimming great depth /And your beauty is the lake /Prismatic with its spectrum /Iit’s way too hard to convey.” But, Skjelset explains later in our interview that it’s actually about the frequent panic attacks he’s been getting the past two years.

If you look at the lyrics it's like, "Is this all real? Am I still asleep?" And then, like, the chorus has this thing about loss. "I can't tell if it's real /I've tried so hard to feel /Separated from myself, I cannot deal." And so, after a while, like in that panic attack, I started to get really, kind of like this disassociative stuff happen, where I slip in and out of reality. And it was not in like a psychedelic way - in a way that was just very dark - it was very, like, "I don't know what to do right now because I have no answers for anything." And I couldn't validate things I was thinking, and not in like a bigger way, like somebody is out to get me, but, literally, like am I in this corporeal form? Like, do I actually exist? What is the universe? That kind of stuff. Yeah, it was pretty bad. There were moments where it was kind of inspiring but, for the most part, it's pretty scary when that kind of stuff happens.


Below, listen to "V C" and read the rest of our interview with Skjelset, where we discuss Back in Heaven, the downsides of the quick ascendence of success, and how Beyoncé inspires him.



KEXP: It's been a busy month for you! We just premiered the debut album for Yeah Baby, and next week, you're releasing your solo album Back in Heaven. Does your day-to-day life consist of just constantly working on music?

Skyler Skjelset: Lately, yeah. Definitely, for sure.

Let's talk about the new record, Back in Heaven. It's your fourth solo record, and quite a departure from the improvisational, sometimes droney, work you've been putting out since 2014. What inspired this change to follow a more traditional melodic song formula?

It was something that I kind of always wanted to do but never felt like I had collected enough material for. And songwriting, in the traditional sense, has never been, like, super interesting to me. I like it as a forum, but I find improvisation a lot more inspiring, generally speaking. But. after the years I'd collected enough songs that I felt were reflective of each other, and deep enough to put into a record that was of a more traditional song format.



Absolutely. You sent Cheryl, in your initial e-mail to her, a little bit about the ideas behind the record, which was about the different lenses through which we live our lives. I was wondering if you could expand a little bit on that.

Just kind of that it's like nobody's situation is the same. And, as we try to navigate our lives like, morally, or even like in terms of just fulfillment, I think it's hard sometimes to have a perspective that's universal, because everybody's lives are so different. And, that situations could really affect people in totally different ways--in ways that we can't necessarily see without all the information and all the pieces that go along with that.

Yeah. Primarily, in regards to that specific kind of sentiment about the record, which I think it's kind of about a few things, but, that was just one aspect of it. It's just kind of being respectful for everybody's situations and lives, and trying to be more understanding about, maybe, why people act the way they do.

Which is an excellent and relevant lesson in our current world.

Yeah, that wasn't really my...I mean, I've been writing these songs for a while now. So, that wasn't necessarily the intention, to be quite so current. But I'm glad that it's a sentiment that could potentially resonate, still.

You've got a pretty incredible list of collaborators for the record, including Hamilton Leithauser, Julianna Barwick, Eric Slick of Dr. Dog, Christopher Icasiano, your Fleet Foxes band-mates Casey, Morgan, Christian, and Matt and a ton, ton more. How did these people get involved, and what was the recording process like? Did they all come out to Woodinville around the same time to record, or was it kind of spread out?

It was definitely spread out. Casey and Morgan definitely came out for more than a few days. Casey, especially. Because they both live in Seattle still. And then, like, some of the record was recorded around the holidays so some of the Westerlies were home, and Willem was able to come and track a few things. And, Eric, we had just toured with him when he was playing drums for Natalie Prass, and we really got along super well, and, kind of had talked about him playing on my record before we even started.

So, a lot of it was with him in consideration. He's not the only drummer on the record, obviously; Matt Barrick, from the Walkmen and Fleet Foxes and Chris Icasiano also, and Trevor, himself. But, yeah, like he was considered upfront and there was definitely people before the record like, Emmy The Great--she's a friend of mine, and I remember specifically seeing a performance of hers that was part of the series called the Hum Series, here in New York.

And I remember right when I kind of decided, like, "Oh, this is something I'm interested in doing, putting together a record of 'song' songs." I saw her and I kind of knew immediately that I wanted her to be a part of it. Because I had never seen her sing in person before and I immediately was like, "Oh, her voice would go well with my voice. I would like her to be like my better half on the record." And then everybody else was just, you know, friends helping out just when I needed some more voices, or whatever.



People were super kind to me about recording a lot of stuff in a very short amount of time, because, for example, the singers –  in terms of everything that I recorded, the very last thing I recorded was the vocals for the record. That was the last thing before tracking, so it was kind of like I had to do the vocals, and then we took a break of time off from recording, like a couple of weeks or something. And, as soon as I got all the vocals that I was going to be doing on the record, I sent it out to people. So, like within a span of two weeks, basically, everybody else took the time to record themselves and send it to me, so that we could have it to mix into the record. It was very, very sweet.

That's awesome. It feels to me like a lot of these people are kind of repeat musicians that you've worked with a number of times, including Trevor Spencer. He's recorded a lot of your solo material, as well as your prior band with Chris Icasiano, Japanese Guy. So, it seems to me like friendship and loyalty and relationship-building within the music community is really important to you.

Yeah, absolutely. I definitely wouldn't have been able to make that record without Trevor. Not only because for being the first record that was song-based, which is, I guess, ultimately like a little bit more revealing to the writer. I felt super comfortable with him because we had worked together so many times. And if I had done it with anybody else, it probably would have felt really weird and I probably would have felt pretty inhibited. So, yeah, Trevor, I honestly always want to work with Trevor kind of for the rest of my life. We're wonderful friends, and he's a great dude and engineer, as well.

But, yeah, I mean friendship is and was super important to me about making the record, because a lot of people have always kind of been there for me, even through, you know, kind of championing the weirder music that I had done in the past and kind of supporting me and going with, following that kind of direction. And people showing up to play on that stuff has always really meant a lot to me. And, I think it's just--especially in this streaming thing we're in now--I think that the music industry, like the local scene, or whatever, can even feel like a little cutthroat sometimes. And, I guess I was pretty lucky because when I really started to get into music and the music community, I, unfortunately, don't think that I got to be a part of the community as much as I kind of wanted to be, because with Fleet Foxes, our kind of success was pretty quick. And so there wasn't a lot of time for us to kind of be able to have slogged through playing shows or doing things like that.

But, luckily, a lot of my friends like Chris Icasiano, Luke Bergman, Andy Clausen, were doing the Racer Sessions at Cafe Racer. That was realy kind of the deepest level I got to be able to have about having a community in music in Seattle. Which was super inspiring and I'm super grateful for because, especially being in Seattle, when we were doing those Japanese Guy records and some of that more free stuff that I was doing, it was always really inspiring to me. And I was super glad to be a part of that community. But, at the same time, because of Fleet Foxes' sort of expedience in success, I also kind of felt like I missed out on a lot. So, now, as I get older and now that I feel like I've lived in New York long enough that I'm kind of a bit more part of the fabric of this city, or like it's woven into me, I feel like I want to kind of re-explore that idea of community and try to be helpful in a way that removes the sort of cutthroat quality of it. Inclusivity and support is really important to me.



Yeah, that's so interesting. It's not something that I think the average person would think about--that, in a way, you're doing it backwards, that there's a downside to a sky-rocketing to fame so quickly where you do kind of miss out on things like the groveling, the playing the shitty shows...

I mean, we definitely had our fair hand playing shitty shows, especially on our first couple tours and stuff. And I do definitely feel like I cut my teeth on those for the music business. But I do think that, they were just not enough. I definitely feel like I look at a lot of my peers and I look at the sort of like history and music and all the little projects they've been in before, and just the relationships that they had a chance to build inside those communities. And for a long time, I felt pretty isolated. Not in a bad way, because I love everybody in Fleet Foxes to death. But it's just like, for years and years, those were kind of my only real collaborators, was that very small group of people. So, it's exciting and inspiring to actively try to be a part of a community again and get to interface with new people and get fresher ideas and a larger outlook on everything.

That's so interesting. You talked a little bit about this with the Yeah Baby interview but I just find it so interesting and incredible that you're doing your publicity on your own, considering the resources that you probably have available to you. And, now that I hear your perspectives on where you've been, does it kind of have to do with, like, I want to slog through this and do this on my own. Like, I could hand this over to a publicist, but I want to know that I can do it on my own. Does that have something to do with it?

To be honest with you, it's not surprising but it is funny to me that you said that about the potential resources that I have. Especially now, considering the pandemic and everything. You know, I don't think I could have gotten my record signed to a label no matter how hard I tried, because I know that labels just are not signing things. So, immediately there's like a level of support that's kind of lost. And, with Fleet Foxes and my experience with that stuff in the past, it's always been...luckily we've had PR people who we had known and were friends with, and they just kind of took it over. So, that stuff is always just kind of being handled from the very beginning. So, honestly, like you said, I didn't just hand it off to a PR person. I don't actually even know a PR person that I could think of calling that I could even theoretically afford. I mean, it's just something I've never, ever interfaced with.

But at the same time, I do think that they're...having seen other bands and watched their successes or their failures, I do feel like it is possible to navigate it in a way that doesn't require being ostentatious, or something. Like, there's still a way to be able to do it by yourself. There's always a way to DIY, I guess. I try to remind myself--and this is like belief and obviously it's not true--but, I try to remind myself that when Beyonce, became her own manager, like, she got her management away from her dad. And I say to myself sometimes, "If Beyonce can do this I can do this."

[laughs] That's the mindset, right there!

Yeah, I actually reference her and I look to her a lot actually in music and just in life, honestly.

Same! Same!



Yeah, I think there's a way to do it. And I guess one thing that I'm actually kind of apprehensive about with this stuff is, like, I don't ever want to be... I have the luxury of doing music. This record for me is, you know... Fleet Foxes is my band, and it has been my main focus for up until the end of touring Crack-Up. So, that's allowed me to have the luxury of being able to explore these other things in a way that maybe a lot of people wouldn't have the resources or time to. So, that's another consideration. It's just like, if I'm going to do it, I just want to make sure that I'm able to do it all on my own two feet. I don't want to be somebody who's, like, in a successful band who's able to pull on these resources and have a sort of built-in listener base, or whatever. I want people to be able to discover my music sort of organically--and this is a very privileged thing to say but--even if it is at a detriment of, like, amount of listeners or potential reach that I could get with doing something a bit more, like I said, showy or ostentatious. So, it's important to me to earn it in a sincere way, I guess.

Right, absolutely. I get that. Yeah, like I mentioned it in the Yeah Baby piece, I just find it so, so sweet and, yeah, organic, that you're just posting on Reddit, like, "Hey guys, is it okay if I share some music with you guys?"

[laughs] Somebody, Shawn's brother--one of the people in Yeah Baby--his younger brother... It's funny how these things get passed to you. Yeah, you were saying that I have these resources, but I actually thought about posting on Reddit for the first time, because Shawn's younger brother just happens to be a user of Reddit and was like, "You guys should do that." And that was like where the resource came from, like, "Oh yeah, this is a good PR thing."

But anyway, I went on the Fleet Foxes one because I never been on it before. And all they were talking about was Robin's Instagram. And so I was, like, "I don't know what this is, like, what this community really is. Is it relevant for me to post this here?" But it seems to be literally all they talk about is Instagram. But, I just wanted to make sure I wasn't, like, ruining some sort of narrative or something, by throwing a wrench into the works.

[laughs] Yeah! I think it's definitely... I don't use Reddit a ton, but recently I have a bit. And it's for people to interact about a band, but people go crazy when someone from the band actually jumps into the conversation. So, I think it was very cool that not only you were posting, but then Robin was, like, "Yeah, you all should support this." Just very sweet, very wholesome and organic.

Oh, good. I'm glad. I didn't know if it was annoying if I was like, "You have to listen to this! Pay me attention!"

[laughs] Oh yeah, no not at all! So, you're New York-based now. Is there something about coming back to Washington to record in Woodinville that feels kind-of comforting, or safe, or like home?

I think that that is a happy coincidence. I think that the main reason is that, one, I wanted to work with Trevor and, two, it's less expensive to record out there, and it's easier to navigate studios and stuff. Because I've recorded in more than a handful of studios out there. It's a bit more throw and go in Seattle. You can just kind of like, "Oh, do you have time this weekend? Sure, yeah. Come by at this time or whatever." Here, you have to kind of like really plan it out.

And, basically, when I went in to record the record, there were no arrangements of any kind. There was only just chords and melodies. So, I knew that it was gonna be something that was going to, one, take a long time, but also that I wouldn't necessarily be able to have a consistent workflow, because there were just so many question marks in it at a certain point. At the very beginning of it, I needed to be in a place that I was going to be able to just really zone out and, like, zone in. And, you mentioned this, but Trevor and I have recorded more than a few records together, and a lot of those records are pretty, like, psychedelic where we're just kind of like exploring one thing for an entire day. So, again, I knew that I'd be able to do that with Trevor because he and I had a history of working together.

But, as a byproduct, yes, I love going back to Seattle. There are certain things about it that I really still love, and there are a lot of things about it that I really don't love, just because it's changed so dramatically since I was there. But, my parents still live there and I still have a few friends out there so it's definitely nice to go back. But, I do love living in New York. Absolutely.

Do you think that chapter's done, as far as living in the Seattle area?

Yeah, I think unless the Coronavirus goes on for the next five years, I think New York is going to be...I mean, honestly, I feel more safe living here than kind of anywhere else in the world right now. Knock on wood, but it definitely feels...Just 'cause I've lived here so long it's easier to navigate, or something. And, the idea of moving to another city or back to a different city even, it's just like, it's a lot of work.

Oh yeah, for sure. Obviously, times are different right now with Covid but, typically, it seems like you're kind of constantly touring with tons of different bands including Beach House and The Walkmen. Just schedule-wise, that has to be a lot to manage. I take it you really like being on the road?

I do. There are the obvious aspects about it that are not cool, like being gone from your loved ones for so long or the creature comforts of home. But, I think that it's, at least for us – I know this isn't universal for every band that's out there, so I know that I'm not trying to speak on behalf of everybody, but there are countless things that I enjoy about tour and countless friendships that I have to thank tour for. And, again, countless inspirations that I've had on tour or seen, or places that I've been that have just been so valuable to me in every creative thing that I've done. So, I can't really imagine living without it, mainly just because of the exploration.



And it's about relationships because you're stuck with these people for so long that you really have to kind of get to know each other in a way that's more intimate than I think a good majority of people would ever have. I think it's surprising. I remember having my girlfriend come out on tour for the first time and being really worried that she was going to kind of like lose her mind or something on it, because it's just's just an outrageous way to live. Obviously, that wasn't the case because we're still together 10 years later...

Wow. Congratulations, 10 years!

Thank you. Yeah, we already had our anniversary, actually it was July 28th. But yeah, 10 years. I guess that's kind of a long-winded way to answer that.

[laughs] How are you handling not being able to tour right now? Are you going stir crazy at all?

Yes and no. I think that actually because of tour, there are a lot of things about this that I'm super prepared for, like just mentally and emotionally, like things that don't quite bug me out. I mean, I always say I miss my friends, but like the concept of being able to just go hang out with them, it's just gone in my head and I don't necessarily miss it. Like, I feel like I talk to my friends enough and they've just...I think very quickly, like, maybe something about being on tour and not being able to see your loved ones anyways, or something, that's, like, prepared me for this. I know that I'll see them again at some point and, it's kind of okay.

So, I'm not super bummed out. I mean, I miss playing shows. It feels very strange to me. Like, I'll see a video of the band playing, or something, and I would just be like, I don't even know how to do that thing that I'm looking at anymore. Like, physically, it makes no sense to me. I am, if somebody invited me to play a show tomorrow, I would just shit the bed so bad. It would be horrible.

I'm sure you'd be just fine. It's probably like riding a bike.

I hope so, yeah.

But, I do know what you mean. Like, whenever...even if I just watch a movie where there's a live show happening in it, I'm like, I barely remember what that's like. I'm just like, "That's too many people in one room!"

Oh, it really trips me out. If I hear somebody cough in a movie, or something.

[laughs] Right? Such a weird, weird world. So, this interview will go alongside with the premiere for "VC." Can you tell me a little bit about that song?

Yeah, that song is very long. I was a little nervous about choosing that song because it's so long and people have a tendency to kind-of have very short attention spans for mostly new things. But, I...something inside of me just flipped, and I just felt like I should do it. It does have the most people on it, I think.

Nice! Who's on it?

So, this one actually had a live performance of the rhythm section, and it was Eric Slick on drums, Morgan played percussion, and Trevor played congas. And, it's the only track on the record that has that live percussion section. It's very dense, it has a lot of really weird things. It's got Christian Wargo on it, my bandmate. Casey plays piano, Julianna Barwick sings on it, and a friend, Lou Hayat, sings on it as well. So, it has a lot of people on it. It wasn't the last song I wrote in the studio, but it was... I started it and it was a totally different song. And, I don't know if any of the things about it are the same from where it began, which is kind of weird. So, I think about the song that it used to be and I am super grateful that I did rewrite it. At one point it was something else, then it turned into this thing. But I did know that I did want a live rhythm section for it. Do you want to know about that stuff, or do you want to know about the intention behind the lyrics, or something?

Everything. All the above. Whatever you can give me.

Yeah, I've got to look at the lyrics here real quick. This song, lyrically, is about kind of over in like...what is it now, 2020? So, in 2018, I started to get really terrible panic attacks, like debilitating. Like, I have to call-the-ambulance level of panic attacks.

Oh, no!

Yeah, and since then, it is something that I've had to deal with in a pretty serious way. It happened pretty constantly for about...up until now. It still happens, but I'm able to kind-of acknowledge it and deal with it ahead of time. And, honestly, being in the lockdown has actually been kind of nice because I know the trigger that brings it on and I'm able to avoid those things way easier in the lockdown, which is maybe one of the reasons I'm not quite as vivacious about getting back out into society, but uhm...vivacious?! [laughs]

[laughs] Interesting. Vivacious! Maybe not the word you were going for, but I get it.

[laughs] You get the sentiment. So, it's kind of about that, the song. If you look at the lyrics it's like, "Is this all real? Am I still asleep?" And then, like, the chorus has this thing about loss. "I can't tell if it's real /I've tried so hard to feel /Separated from myself, I cannot deal." And so, after a while, like in that panic attack, I started to get really, kind of like this disassociative stuff happen, where I slip in and out of reality. And it was not in like a psychedelic way – in a way that was just very dark - it was very, like, "I don't know what to do right now because I have no answers for anything.: And I couldn't validate things I was thinking, and not in like a bigger way, like somebody is out to get me, but, literally, like am I in this corporeal form? Like, do I actually exist? What is the universe? That kind of stuff. Yeah, it was pretty bad. There were moments where it was kind of inspiring but, for the most part, it's pretty scary when that kind of stuff happens.

So, there are these lyrics in the chorus that are kind of like, "The loop: The chain of gold that you hold is wrapped around me whole /Keeps me able /Feeling like I'm in control." It's kind of like the idea of somebody wrapping themselves around you emotionally, to be there for you and to make you feel secure. Because, that's generally what it is. Like, I feel super...just unable to control anything, basically. So there's that kind of idea of just these things that make me feel comfortable. That helped me get kind of...find that kind of anchor in the midst of things.

Interesting. Wow, there's a lot to unpack there!

Yeah, and there are little things in there that are kind of like funny little nods, lyrically, to things like in the pre-chorus section, there's something that says, "The perfect shade of a perfect black /Drips like ink out from a pen /Against the dark hang seven stars." The perfect black was...I saw this advertisement in Hong Kong when I was visiting one time, and it was advertising a printer and it said, like, "The perfect black." And I just was so obsessed with that because I love the color black. And I wear it head to toe, and it makes me feel kind of cozy. And so, seeing that perfect black thing really captivated me.

So, that line, specifically, was a reference to this trip I had to Hong Kong. The seven stars, again, kind-of around that same time, my mom was explaining to me that – my dad works for Subaru – and she was explaining to me that the logo is actually supposed to be the Pleiades and that there are only six stars on it because there's a hidden seventh star that you can't see.

What? I had no idea!

Yeah, but there's a brand of cigarettes, also, in Japan that, when I was a smoker, I would get really excited to go to Japan and buy these cigarettes because they're called Seven Stars. So....

A lot of references.




Was it difficult delving into songwriting? This is your first time really writing lyrics, right?

I mean, I like to write. I have a tendency to kind of just jot things down that I find to be fascinating sort of word interactions. Like, my notepad on my iPhone is generally just either these two words interacting. So, I find it fascinating, like the entendres and the metaphors of it all. But, yeah, it was...I had to rewrite a couple songs, lyrically, from the ground up. And I was definitely writing lyrics up until the very last day of recording. But it was fun, I enjoyed it, and it was something that I am looking forward to doing on the next record that I do. It was a pretty illuminating experience that it can be a fun thing. It seemed daunting at first, but it ended up being a pretty fun journey.

Did you go back and look over your lyrics and find some new insights from some of the things you'd written?

Hmm. There are things that I was able to kind of...You know, whenever you write these things, I think it's like you get a little bit worried about how people are going to interpret them, especially your friends. You know, there are lines in the record that are pretty romantic. But, like I said, I've been with my girlfriend for 10 years. So, it's kind of like, "Where's that coming from? Where's that going?" Not that it's not about her, a lot of the stuff is actually about her. But, I would understand somebody being like, "What is this very specific romantic thing that this person is writing about? Like, why would that be?" Or, if a friend you know...if there's something that sounds kind of cutting in there, then I could see a friend potentially finding some way to try to internalize that. Not that people are looking for that, but I could see how if you have a deep enough relationship that somebody could potentially think that that thing points at them or whatever.

Right, absolutely. It's interesting because Fleet Foxes has a song that Robin wrote about you. And, since we're on the topic, I'm curious about what was that experience was like, finding out that Robin had written a song about your friendship and now you're recording that song and playing that song.

It was cool. I mean, Robin and I, we've known each other for so long, and our friendship has gone through phases over the years like I think any friendship would. So, at that point, when we kind of came back together to work on Crack-Up, it was primarily just me and him for the majority of that record. And, it didn't bother me, like, I felt like the sentiment was kind and I felt like he was trying to be as honest as he could when he wrote that in a way that... I don't think that the song, in any way, was pointed negatively at me. But I think, even if it was, that it would be important to remember that if you're trying to be a good musician, that you would write in earnestness.

And, even if it's about me, there's nothing I could necessarily change about the way somebody's experience happens which, again, is kind of actually what my record is a little bit about, sometimes. It's just kind of not denying somebody whatever their life is and how it affects who they are as a person. And, it would be pretty sadistic to write a negative song and then expect somebody to play it. I don't think anybody would be capable of that. It would be a pretty awful thing to do to somebody.



I know. I think about bands all the time that are couples, and they date and then they break up and they still have to play the songs after, like, I don't know how they can do that.

Oh my God! The Fleetwood Mac stuff...I mean, those people must have had just some really tough personalities to be able to withstand that every night. Or, honestly, very sympathetic people, because maybe that's how it was for them and they're expressing themselves in song, you know, like you can't really deny that to somebody, but...

Yeah, it's either heart of stone or just like the most empathetic person.

Totally. Actually, this has nothing to do with anything except for Stevie Nicks...

I'm down.

I watched a thing recently saying that she wrote a song, I think it's on Wildheart. It's based on "Raspberry Beret" I think, or some other song, by Prince [editor note: It was "Little Red Corvette"]. It's one her songs is based on another one of his songs, but I don't know which one it was but she wanted to give him credit for it. I think this is all in his biography or whatever. And, so she wanted to put his name in like this "written by..." thing, and he said, no. His whole thing was, "I still took the money." But he didn't credit himself for writing the song. But then after that, I guess, he became interested in working with her and he sent her this demo and she was like, "Oh, this is a great song, but not for me." And it ended up being "Purple Rain."

No way!

She passed on "Purple Rain"!

She passed on "Purple Rain"?! Oh my gosh.

I mean, thank the heavens that that actually didn't happen because Prince's "Purple Rain" fucking rules.

Well, yeah. I mean, I love Stevie Nicks, but that would have been an entirely different song.

Oh my God, I don't think this world would be the same place without the opportunity for Prince to have played "Purple Rain" at the Super Bowl halftime show. I don't know if you have ever seen that performance, but it's unbelievable.

It's so good! Oh, my gosh. No, that's not a world I want to live in.

Yeah! It's terrible.



So, I don't know if you can say anything, but you know I've got to ask about what's going on with Fleet Foxes right now. There's been like some thoughts and rumors that maybe a fourth record might emerge soon.

Yes, Robin has been working on a new record, but I'm not really sure about the release of it.

So, he's eventually going to release it. If he wants you to go tour with him, do you drop everything for it? 

Fleet Foxes is... I've been playing with Robin since the band was called The Pineapples, or The Sway in high school. A lot of people don't know this, but before it was actually called the Pineapples I think we were actually called The Sway, which is even dorkier.

Yeah, not great!

Yeah, no. Terrible. But, that band has always been my priority, musically, because it has been my band for years. It's a part of who I am. And, even with this record that I just made, like, I started it in between tours with Fleet Foxes, and in no way would it have ever inhibited my ability to be a part of that. Because that's the way I prioritize it. So, yeah, I think if Robin wants to work together, I'm always there for him. 

That's beautiful. So, as you're probably aware, KEXP is the station where the music matters. Why does music matter to you?

Well, at this point, I don't think that I would be able to exist without music because it's so ingrained in who I am as a person. But, music matters to me because it's exploration. And, I think you can really find a lot out about yourself and the world through that.



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