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Ariel Pink

Ariel Pink

Interviewed by
Ben Coley
Monday 10th November, 2014 11:29AM

It is hard to deny the effect Ariel Pink has had on music during the past decade. His skewed vision and version of lo-fi bedroom pop has influenced many musicians. An underground mainstay for years, it wasn’t until Pink signed to 4AD in 2009 that he started to get some crossover success. His first two releases on the British-based label, under the moniker Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti, were 2010’s Before Today and 2012’s Mature Themes, both of which were received well by critics and fans alike with the song 'Round and Round' even named as Pitchfork’s number one song of 2010. This November will see Pink release a brand new 69-minute, 17-track double-album entitled Pom Pom under the name Ariel Pink. The LA-residing musician, whose real name is Ariel Rosenberg, is often outspoken and in the spotlight for negative reasons and his promotion for Pom Pom has been no different after he unleashed on Madonna and in return was called a misogynist by Grimes. UnderTheRadar spoke with the intelligent, yet often scatterbrained, Pink to ask him about this latest incident, talk about Pom Pom, see why he dropped the Haunted Graffiti, and find out if Ariel Pink is really just a figment of our imaginations...

UTR: Hi Ariel, firstly I would like to ask you about the media hype that has surrounded you recently regarding being asked to write music for Madonna and then been called a misogynist by Grimes on Twitter. What is your take on it all?

Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I am certainly entitled to mine. I wouldn’t call them up to go for pizza but I have nothing against either Grimes or Madonna, in fact I am a huge Madonna fan. I just see it as evidence of just how easily people are manipulated and persuaded to feel something that isn’t the case. Journalists take my words out of context, put them up on a blog and people read it. Those words don’t have the same ring to it as if you are sitting in a room with me and you get the sense of a body or a person, if you did, you would know that I don’t feel the way I am made out to feel. On the one hand people know the media skew and manipulate things, but they continuously ignore that fact and go back to it for more fodder. I don’t pander to the core public opinion and I just find it amusing.

To then go and release a song like 'Black Ballerina' that some might say is controversial a week after that incident, makes me feel that you are stirring the pot even more, is this the case?

I mean it’s not as if I have some sort of plan, I am not in control of the whole thing. A journalist interviewed me with regards to Pom Pom and as an aside he asked me what I had been doing for the last nine months. I told him I was doing other work, producing and writing for people and bands, he then took that and made an article out it. I am not going to go on Twitter and try and deny that I said any of that stuff, I like being a voyeur on the whole thing. I don’t want to deny it or have to live by that sword. It’s just that people will believe what they read. Mobs rule, and when they don’t like the result of something they can mobilise and become very powerful. They can take someone down from their throne, burn them and do whatever they like. They will do this completely unaware of how effectively they have been duped by the media into believing they have some sort of right to do so. They have no respect for decency and laws. But hey, the world is full of shit and that’s nothing new.

I recently saw the Nick Cave documentary 20,000 Days and he talks about creating this character and world within his music, books and poetry and that the version of himself that he has created has morphed into his day-to-day life. Has a similar thing happened with you and Ariel Pink, have you created a character and fantasy world which has slowly become your real identity?

From as far back as I can recall I was raised to see myself as an artist. I was spoon-fed a persona that wasn’t mine, which was due to me being gullible and taking encouragement from where it was offered. People really responded to my visual work when I was younger. I was three years old and my parents said: “Oh my god, look, he is this Picasso”, and I really believed it. So it is sort of predicated on these false assumptions about me. You aren’t supposed to develop a persona at three years old, you are supposed to be narcissistic and self-serving, but you should eventually get into a position where you cultivate self-image later in life that is in contrast to your parents. Essentially taking their words and using them against them, for lack of a better term. The same faculties I use today were at play back then. I was definitely innocent and naïve, then metal came around and I had my rebellious age, but I settled into my uniqueness at such an early stage based on the type of artist I am. In that sense I don’t know really know myself and there is no core to it. For me there were no humble beginnings and then a persona emerges, from top to bottom I was given an empty vessel, in that sense I have never been a persona.

Is there much of a difference between Ariel Pink and Ariel Rosenberg? You have spoken in previous interviews about creating Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti as something to hide behind.

I mean maybe Ariel Pink has got to Ariel Rosenberg’s head but I don’t think that is the case. I never set out for Ariel Pink to be an escape per se, it was Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti which was my cover but then I started to tolerate responding to the notion that I was Ariel Pink in interviews and press and it was an organic and almost seamless change. It did end up biting me in the ass later on with legal issues. I realised I took certain things for granted and it made it more confusing for myself than anyone else. The whole idea from the beginning is that I am Ariel Rosenberg and I am this individual and Ariel Pink is a figment of everyone else’s imagination and not mine.

You have dropped the Haunted Graffiti from the name and are releasing Pom Pom as Ariel Pink, why the change?

Many reasons, more than anything I just wanted it to be autonomous and do whatever I wanted. I didn’t want to have band meetings of any kind. I have put myself in a position in the past when I was working with others where I possibly included them too much in the process and I felt I comprised some of the work. I think it is just a matter of getting comfortable and back to my potential, which is why it is more of a solo record.

There is a maturity and confidence to Pom Pom that I don’t feel has come across so strongly before in your music, are you more comfortable being in the spotlight?

I hope that’s what it is. This is an adult record. What was key with Pom Pom is that I didn’t rush it or feel any pressure whilst recording it. This is one of the only records where I haven’t had legal problems put a dampener on the sessions and ruining it before the record even went to press. I don’t make a big deal about it or talk about it much, but it's stuff that was unrelenting and mind-numbing for me to deal with and sometimes I wonder why I introduced a whole web of complexities into my life by legally losing control of certain aspects, when I knew all along what was good for me. But it was a duty I needed to work through and I am glad I did so. This time it’s more about leading by example and doing what thou wilt and people can come on board or not. That’s not supposed to be an alienating thing, it’s about leadership and vision, but thanks do need to be given where they are due.

You said Pom Pom is an adult record, and some of the songs have quite deep meanings such as 'Picture Me Gone', can you tell me more about the meaning behind that song?

Yeah, the legacy is spoken from the point of view from a father who is bestowing parts of his history onto his children who are maybe too young to know him and may never experience him, so rather than leaving a book behind that the kid will flip through, he is leaving evidence of his life on a hard-drive for this kid to access later in life and peruse his origins. Essentially I think that is going to happen in less than a generation from now and I think people will have a whole different relationship towards lineage and progeny and what their purpose is on this planet.

You have never been short on songs, but for what reasons did you decide to make a 69-minute, 17-song double album?

I have never been one to acknowledge aesthetical sensibility. I have always done what I wanted and it has generally been unfashionable. I made a double record because that’s what I enjoy. There are heaps of great double records out there that I love. It’s a great old thing. I mean why do we still make and buy vinyl, because we like it!

Is there a story behind the name Pom Pom?

It was the last decision that was made on the album. Initially and in the studio it was going to be untitled and be called Ariel Pink or “The Pink Album” similar to The Beatles White Album which was actually the intention at the beginning of the recording, but we ended up ditching that due to the artwork and some other reasons.

Thanks for your time Ariel, hope you can make it over to New Zealand soon.

Fingers crossed, I always like being in New Zealand and playing over there. Cheers!

Here's the bizarre new video for 'Picture Me gone'...

Ariel Pink'
s new album Pom Pom is out this Friday 14th November through 4AD.


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