Disclaimer: This blog entry is mostly for myself and includes a lot of “thinking out loud” and expository narration (lol), but it also has some fun Q&A action that’s clearly indicated anyway. Thank you.
So, a glaring omission from this blog is probably a recap of The National’s performance here in Manila, which is sadly over a week old already. I interviewed Matt and Aaron (!) which I still can’t wrap my head around, even though my article ran yesterday in The Philippine Star’s Young Star. Its original incarnation was about 1,300 words—500 words over the limit I was given. I’m actually very happy with how they condensed it, even though writing my word vomit was really hard because I had a lot to say.
Well, that is what Nothing Spaces is for!
(Although, I have to say that I am going to have to post photos some other time. Sarie and I shared a camera and I need to figure out a good way to determine proper attribution, though truth be told, most of the awesome photos are probably hers. Also, I “narrowed” it down to 120. Who the hell is going to want to see 120 photos of a performance?)
So, context: I got to spend 15ish minutes with Matt Berninger, cutest bearded person in all the land, aka Mumbleberry Pie, and Aaron Dessner, one half of the supremely talented super twins. With five other people, yes, but fifteen minutes nonetheless.
Like I said in my piece, looking at them from across a table is vastly different from the usual squish-vision when you are in a sea of roaring and adoring fans. I think I didn’t expect them to be funny, for whatever reason. When we sat down and placed all of our recording devices near-ish Matt, he said, “Do you want these closer?” and he brought them into him like a hug or something and said, “Check, check, check!” and I just about died because I’m a freak and it was adorable.
Sidenote: Raymond, the editor of the section of the paper the interview appeared in, kindly asked me to restrain myself. LOL. I think he knew that a version of this blog post was going to happen if he didn’t tell me to tuck away the fangirl. Aldus, one of the journalists I was beside (+ author and Purple Chicken), said I handled it well for a super big fan, so I consider this a success story that I am attributing to my shyness. High five, shyness. You did good this time. (By the way, Aldus wrote an excellent piece on this not-so-secret meeting here.)
I’m not actually sure how to do this, but I bet it’s going to be a long-ass thing… So, I’ll start with my favorite parts. I think one of my favorite parts about the entire thing was when they were talking about their performance of “Sorrow,” at the MoMA PS1, in collaboration with Ragnar Kjartansson, an artist. They played it 108 times in six hours.
Matt: “Ragnar Kjartansson, who did that piece, just was a fan of us, and he specifically loved that one song, “Sorrow,” so it was his idea, and he pitched it to MoMA and then MoMA had pitched it to us. What I was just saying about humor and sadness; he’s somebody that very much knows how those two things kind of mingle. The drama and the darkness of life and the lightness of life, and the sadness and the funniness of every beautiful and awful situation, often are tangled up together. All his stuff is like that. So when he pitched us his idea, he knew that the song “Sorrow” is both dramatic and sad, but also there’s something sweet and warm and uplifting about it. So he wanted to see what would happen if that song was put on repeat, and we went through all these different emotions while we did that for six hours. We both laughed and sometimes we got really emotionally worked up in different ways, and so that’s what he does, and so we trusted him, that he knew what he was doing, and we just kind of went with it.”
Aaron: “I think everyone in the band would agree that it was one of our favorite days as a band, one of the greatest moments. We’ll always remember it. The fact that we agreed to do it, and the fact that we got through it and that it was beautiful and transcendent, it means a lot to us. When we look back, it’s a memory. I feel like it’s the day that we realized that these songs that we write have something more than we can understand. You can lose yourselves in the songs, for whatever reason. You close your eyes, almost any National song… We do it every night. We close our eyes, we play the songs. We could probably do it with most of our songs, not that people would want to hear it, but it was really cool. It was beautiful.”
And then Ju asked what they would have liked to play for six hours, if they could have picked a different song.