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Trent Reznor doesn’t like that music you’re listening to. It’s just noise and you can’t even understand the words. Turn it off.

By | Published on Thursday 27 July 2017

Trent Reznor

With a new EP, ‘Add Violence’, just out, Trent Reznor has given a long and insightful interview to Vulture. It covers topics from how Donald Trump’s election as president has affected parenting to why he thinks musicians shouldn’t give long interviews.

He also talks about his experience as Artistic Director at Apple Music, and how he sees it as something different to other celebrity side-jobs. “My experience with Beats Music and then at Apple largely was dismissed from outside, maybe justifiably, as here’s another celebrity moron holding up a phone and expecting some sort of credit”, he says. However: “I’ve learned a hell of a lot from working at Beats and Apple. I’ve seen a lot, and it’s interesting to be behind the scenes and meet really cool, smart people that I highly respect”.

“Being in that world has made me realise the true value of being an artist”, he goes on. “The economics of music aren’t what they should be, and the culture isn’t giving the arts its fair due, but humans are always going to respond to emotion and storytelling. I believe that as much as I ever did. More, even”.

To that end then, what does he think of some of today’s big popstars? How about fellow Apple Music affiliate Drake?

“I see what Drake’s been able to pull off in terms of being omnipresent and constantly engaging an audience that seems to enjoy the way he’s engaging them”, he says. “I’m just not part of that audience. I’m not as well-rounded as I used to be about pop culture. I’m not saying pop music isn’t well-crafted or the people who make it aren’t wonderful, but it’s not for me. I’ve asked people, ‘What is it that’s good about Drake?’ I’ve said to my friends at Apple: ‘Explain to me why’. As the old guy, I don’t see it”.

It’s a valid question. “I wasn’t even asking cynically”, he insists. “I was curious what it is that he’s touching on. The answers I got made me go, ‘That’s it?'”

He’s also not keen on that whole EDM thing: “I’ve had many agent types over the years say, ‘EDM is the future’. No, it’s not. It’s fucking not … I’m saying this judgmentally: EDM has certainly changed pop music and is an interesting flavour, but I don’t think anyone’s going to be listening to it in ten years and saying, ‘What a fucking great song that beat was'”.

And then there’s the visual imagery that accompanies some modern music. Reznor particularly singles out Nicki Minaj’s ‘Anaconda’ video, saying: “Is that supposed to be sexy? How about we just have full gynaecological probing in a video? There’s a vulgarity to it”.

You might fairly cry ‘hypocrisy’ there, given that Reznor has a pretty long history of skirting the borders of taste and decency with his art. His most famous lyric, after all, is “I wanna fuck you like an animal” in ‘Closer’. However, he’s no longer a wild rock star in his 20s, he’s a sober parent in his 50s.

“I’m not looking forward to the ‘Closer’ talk”, he says of his children’s interest in his music. “Which is probably going to happen quicker than I’d like. Just this morning, me and my two older boys were sitting in the hotel restaurant. Their mom has played the new EP for them a couple times. They’re like, “My favourite song is ‘Less Than'”. That’s sweet, but then I’m thinking, ‘don’t I say ‘fuck’ in that one?'”

Of how life changes your perceptions of your own art, he adds: “You’re not really thinking about how lyrics that seemed cool at the time are going to register with parents at your kid’s school 20 years later”.

Anyway, you should read the whole interview. Here it is.