5 Questions with Kurt Vile
by Jessica Lewis
August 4, 2010
Kurt Vile, a psychedelic rock musician from Philadelphia, PA, has three albums, a new EP titled Square Shells and another album for hopeful release this winter. He’s been signed to Matador Records for over a year now, and is still really excited about it. For all of his released work, he’s taken it with the view that they are just compilations of songs, but for the upcoming album, he’s decided to make it unified and also put the low-fi name he’s been given to rest. AUX had a moment to speak with Vile before his show in Toronto last week.
Is Square Shells EP close to your old album or closer to what’s going to be on the new album?
I’d say it’s closer to a lot of my albums in the past; a collection of some home recordings and some studio recordings. I put the songs together, see what they need, maybe add some more here, maybe songs from back in the day. One of the songs is actually from a radio show, Hey Now I’m Moving, and we added tracks to it on Adam’s reel to reel. No different than Constant Hitmaker or God is Saying This to You. It’s just a compilation. Psychedelic, kind of mellow.
What can you tell me about your upcoming album?
I can say that it’s a true studio record and it’s really pretty and musical. There are rock undertones. I’ll probably put a rocker or two on there. It’s not pretentious at all, it doesn’t sound too pump or definitely not low-fi. I never really thought about low-fi, but people coined that phrase. I think it’s our best record yet, which it should be, because honestly the stuff on Childish Prodigy, that was recorded like 3 ½ years ago at this point.
So you said it’s going to be more of a studio sound but people have coined you as the low-fi guy. What do you think is going to happen when it comes out?
I don’t care. If somebody’s like ‘Hey, it sounds too clean,’ I’ll be like ‘Yeah because it’s music, we recorded in a studio.’ I never was so low-fi to begin with, just recording at home. I definitely didn’t think Childish Prodigy would be coined as low-fi, but it did anyway.
What will it sound like?
It’s similar to my sound. It’s not a departure, it’s pretty acoustic songs with their fleshed out rock and psychedelic undertones like I say. It’s just really song-y. A lot of people play on it. My friend Lea from Blues Control played piano on a couple songs, my friend Meg Baird sang. Steve Shelley played drums on some songs. The Violators all played on it. It was the most work we’ve done on a record too. Plus [producer] John Agnello is really good at pushing and he pushes himself. We probably worked on it for like a month straight broken up, long long hours. All of my records are compilations, basically. This is the first record that was made in sessions for a certain record. The other ones are just collections from here and there.
You’ve been on Matador for over a year now. How’s that going?
It’s going good, I really like everybody there. I’m definitely stoked, sometimes I still can’t believe it. I was chasing the dream for a long time. I was excited because I was doing my own thing for a long time and then it took a while to figure out to get another label to put my thing out so I just went really small, like punk rock small. Then things started within a year and a half or something, things started buzzing. I think that people are happy for me because they saw that I was trying on my own for so long. I don’t feel like a cocky rock star, but I do feel lucky and I feel like it’s deserved too. I’m proud of myself that I could pull it off.