Devendra Banhart, Closets
Devendra Banhart

What was the most memorable thing Devendra said in his interview?

Elisa: My favorite thing that Devendra said was regarding his most recent album-- “It grew exponentially as time went on and now it is a huge failure, which is super exciting because now we can start working on a new record.” The video editors had to work extra hard to cut out my gut-wrenching laugh when Devendra said this. His complicated relationship with creating music and a pending sense of failure is one of the most poignant and honest thoughts I have heard in one of these interviews. I relate so much and find his self-deprecating nature to be so endearing. I also loved when Devendra told me that he felt sorry for me when I told him how much I loved his music.

What surprised you during the interview with Devendra?

Elisa: I was not expecting his style to be so tame and understated. In my mind, I imagined him as a sartorial hippie eccentric. He is one of those people that can do anything with clothes and make it look avant-garde. On Devendra, wearing a classic cardigan, blazer and trousers is edgy, especially with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth.

What did Devendra inspire in you?

Elisa: I was inspired to listen to some of the indigenous Venezuelan music that Devendra grew up with, like Simon Diaz, as well as Desmond Dekker, the latter of which was influential to him when he heard his music in a Keenan Milton skateboard video. I have also been listening to Hecuba, a great band that he admires and who lives down the street from him in LA. I also love the way he types his lyrics and thoughts on an old-fashioned typewriter, and hangs the pages on his walls.

What do you admire about Devendra?

Elisa: His drive to be his own person and his rebellion against “blind unconsciousness” (with which he says his mother has helped him). He had the freedom within to squat in Brooklyn before he had his first record deal; to challenge the belief systems of his peers in high school by wearing shocking outfits; and ultimately to be the only male wearing the female cap and gown color (turquoise) at his high school graduation when they ran out of the “boys’” color. As he puts it, “I had no relationship to the social hierarchy.” I also admire Devendra’s struggle to avoid being caught up in the trappings of critical acclaim, and his commitment to the process of making music. In terms of integrity, Devendra looks up to another favorite of mine, Antony Hegarty of Antony and the Johnsons. I love how he says with a straight face that he doesn’t necessarily like the music he makes, but "loves making music.” I really appreciate his sense of humor. He told us that the first song he wrote at 9 years old was about plastic surgery and that his grandmother asked him to never sing again.

What's your favorite thing about Devendra's style?

Elisa: How it unapologetically expresses whatever phase he is in emotionally-- “you won’t sound the part if you don’t dress the part,” he says. When we saw him, it was all about suits and “uniforms” that contribute to a sense of routine and structure while in the process of making his new album. He needed to feel as if he was going to a 9 to 5 job in his recording studio in the backyard. I also love the way he cut his boots down to the ankle.

Questions answered by Elisa Goodkind, Co-Founder & Editor in Chief.

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