Steven Wilson answers your questions!
Two weeks ago, StarsDie.com ran a community Q&A for questions that our users would like to ask Steven Wilson. Steven had kindly agreed to answer five questions from us. The number of questions submitted and the quality of questions was superb and it was very difficult to choose the winning three to go with StarsDie.com’s two questions. Thanks to all those who put their questions forward and congratulations to CerebralArchitect, Alex Mascart and bob_32_116 who submitted the chosen questions. Steven has surpassed himself by responding much more quickly than he initially suggested he would be able to. So, huge thanks to Steven for taking the time to respond to our questions so well.
So, here are the three winning questions along with Steven Wilson’s answers from the StarsDie.com Q&A!
Question 1 by StarsDie.com user, CerebralArchitect
You once commented that ‘Fear of a Blank Planet’ is a record that revolves heavily around it’s lyrical content, while ‘The Incident’ is more about what the music has to say, with the lyrics taking a back seat. Does ‘Grace for Drowning’ fall into either of those categories, or is the balance between it’s lyrical themes/messages and the music fairly equal?
It’s not really a concept driven record – the lyrics are about things I’ve written about before – cheery topics like serial killers (!), break up songs, and melancholia / depression. But hopefully with a different perspective this time, and I am very proud of them. Most of the new aspects of this record are to do with the music and the production approach.
Question 2 by Alex Mascart, StarsDie.com Facebook user
You are well known as being anti-iPod and somewhat against in some ways the whole ‘download culture’. As a teenager myself, and an avid fan of your work, what alternatives do you recommend to people like myself to get the best music experience possible, whilst on a budget? Is there a possibility perhaps that convenience over quality can be a good thing, and that perhaps iPods aren’t so bad after all?
Actually, believe it or not I’m not totally anti iPod – in some ways I like the fact that there are now more people listening to more music than at any other time in history – this is a good thing. But for me it also represents something I don’t like – which is the convenience over quality of experience aspect that you mention – audio compression, no artwork, playlist mentality…etc. Hardly anyone actually sits down and really listens to beautifully recorded music anymore. But that’s not just down to the new technology, it’s as much to do with the way the world has changed, and how modern life has brought so many other distractions to contend with.
Question 3 by StarsDie.com user, bob_32_116
When you compose for your own albums you clearly don’t have to concern yourself about how the other Porcupine Tree members will react to it and whether it will suit their particular playing skills. How does this change the way you write? Are there songs you reject for the band because you decide they would work better solo, or vice versa?
Yes – there is a relatively small area where everyone’s tastes overlap, and we can all agree on something that we want to play. This is ultimately what gives a band its identity, so you have to say that it is a good thing. But sometimes it can also be a limitation, not just for me but all the members who have their own ideas that don’t fit into the band. I would say that largely what appears on my solo records has been material that I would not expect PT have all agreed that they would want to play. Of course, there is bound to be exceptions, songs where listeners might feel it could easily have been a PT song. But largely, writing with PT in mind there are certain places I wouldn’t go. It stands to reason that a solo record imposes absolutely no limitation at all on where you can go musically, so the problem then becomes one of trying to create something cohesive that holds together, rather than a self-indulgent mess. It took me nearly 20 years into my career before I felt I had the confidence to actually attempt to pull all the various strands of my musical personality into making records under my own name.
Question 4 by Rob Skarin, StarsDie.com Admin
Your musical influences have been well documented in previous interviews, and your output as a musician has been prolific. Having achieved such success in your own projects and collaborations, what is it that continues to make you want to get up in the morning and do more and more?
Just my passion for music as a listener and producer. I think with a lot of musicians there comes a point where they really don’t love music anymore, but continue to do it because it’s their livelihood – I’ve never reached that stage, and hope I never well – I still love listening to and making music as much as ever.
Question 5 by Miles Skarin, StarsDie.com Graphic Designer
Not withstanding your current popularity and success, you are not well known in the younger demographic. Does this bother you, and how do you think you could attract a larger following in this age group?
Actually that’s only true in certain countries, most in the USA, less so in Europe, and not at all in some countries like Mexico, Poland, Greece, Italy..etc..where Porcupine Tree’s following seems to be if anything stronger in the younger demographic. I guess this is mostly down to media exposure – in countries where the music is very much under the radar it’s tended to be the more obsessive (and older) music fans who have discovered the music. And yes I do think it’s a bit of a shame that more young people in the USA and elsewhere don’t know the music – I’m sure a lot of them would like it if they had the chance to listen.
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