This month sees the release of new solo albums from two of New York City’s most celebrated singers: The Strokes’ Julian Casablancas and Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Karen O. In this month’s issue of Time Out New York, the two interviewed each other about their respective releases, their songwriting process, Radiohead, Lou Reed, Dirty Dancing, and a bunch of other random stuff. For lack of a better word, the entire thing is amazing.
Among the highlights:
Julian began the interview by asking if Karen likes Radiohead, because “I saw a guy walk by who looked like Thom Yorke, and I thought, ‘I wonder if she likes Radiohead?’ Do you like them a little? A lot?” Karen responded, “Thom Yorke is very special. He fucks me up with his vocals, for one. I don’t think it’s just because I’m a singer, because I write music, too, but I tend to gravitate toward the voice more than anything else in music. And Thom Yorke’s got a whopper of one. The rest of it is…” Casablancas then cut her off by joking, “Total bullshit?”
Later Julian asked her if she likes Dirty Dancing, and we quickly learn that he’s the world’s foremost expert on Patrick Swayze’s 1987 film.
Karen: I loved that film when it came out — I really did. Patrick Swayze…
Julian: Johnny Castle, you mean? That used to be my fake hotel name, if I ever needed one.
Karen: He was a great dancer! Jennifer Hudson, pre-nose job.
Julian: Jennifer Grey?
Karen: Oh, sorry.
Julian: I’m like, an expert on this movie. I don’t even know how I know this.
Karen said she considers Julian to be “one of the greatest lyric writers since we’ve been around,” to which Julian responded, “What?!?! That’s not true. Thank you.” Karen continued, “Some of the songs you’ve written — the lyrics are sublime,” and Julian quipped, “Like the band Sublime?”
Julian then relayed the story about the time he met Lou Reed. “When I was probably 19, he was doing a book signing at Barnes & Noble, and we went. He was walking away; we almost missed it. So I just grabbed one of the books — I didn’t even know if I had the money to pay for it — just to stop him, you know what I mean? And he was totally weird and awesomely insane.”
Despite both being key figures in the New York alt scene, and Julian releasing Karen’s Crush Songs through his own Cult Records, the two never met each other until recently. Julian recalled an early show in The Strokes’ career which Yeah Yeah Yeahs opened. “I remember you guys playing, but I was, like, nervous before our show, so it was hard to … Like I told you, before shows, I’m just…” he explained.
Karen, meanwhile, said she considered The Strokes to be rivals of Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
Julian: I definitely did not [see it that way]
Karen: Of course, you didn’t, because you were at the top! You were ruling the school.
Karen: So, yeah, I remember feeling that way at the time.
Julian: Shit, I didn’t realize. Well, we didn’t know each other.
Karen: And it was kind of like a boys’ club around that time, so I always felt a little bit like a black sheep, but in a good way. I used that to rev me up.
Karen concluded, “I feel like — and I talked to Josh Homme about this too — sometimes frontpeople don’t connect. It’s like when two magnets that are positively charged [repel each other.] Only in my thirties have I made a concerted effort to connect with other frontpeople, and it’s awesome, because I relate! I kind of wish I would’ve done that when I was young and more insecure.”
Read the full article at She’s Fixing Her Hair.