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June 13, 2013 6:54 PM   Subscribe

James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem talks about failure and about trying not to stifled by fear of it. (Referenced frequently in the interview: Losing My Edge)
posted by ardgedee (29 comments total) 61 users marked this as a favorite

 
I was there.
posted by item at 6:58 PM on June 13, 2013 [11 favorites]


As someone who's not always a huge LCD Soundsystem fan... this is great. Thank you.
posted by koeselitz at 7:08 PM on June 13, 2013


Now this thread's got me waxing all nostalgic for the single track ever released (that i'm aware of, at least) by Shame 69: "No Business". Fans of "Losing My Edge" and Negativland might want to listen but fans of Gary Glitter might consider staying away.
posted by item at 7:08 PM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


lazy just didn't sound right

word.
posted by localroger at 7:13 PM on June 13, 2013


oh wow, this interview! i love this interview. it didn't used to be on youtube; i could only find it embedded in some site in a language i don't even speak and there wasn't a view count so i had no idea if other people even knew about it. i'm glad to see it here.

james murphy in this video is one of the only "successful people" i've heard speak about being a failure early on where it's actually believable. a good hope-giving interview.
posted by a birds at 7:23 PM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hah! This guy thinks he knows about FAILURE? Yo, I got failure can run circles around this guy's failure. His failure ain't SHIT.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:28 PM on June 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


At age 22, Murphy was offered a job writing for the sitcom Seinfeld which was then little-known. He did not expect the show to be successful and chose to continue with music instead.
posted by destro at 7:31 PM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Last night in Saints Row 2 i stayed in a sinking car just to hear more LCD Soundsystem. I love how unsure Murphy is... makes him the most relatable dance music singer.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 7:48 PM on June 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


His epiphany somewhat matches mine.

By 23, I had gotten kicked out of the marines, knocked up a stripper, and gotten stabbed in a drunken fight. I was 25 grand in debt, facing a bankruptcy. And on and on. Just a failure to thrive.

Then, that moment happened. And I don't know exactly what about me changed. But I did. I could feel it. In a few months I had dumped my going nowhere idiot friends, and my shitty soul sucking job. I moved to a new town, got a good job, making real money. And just finally starting to grow up, and I never really looked back.

But that fear he talks about. God, I know that fear.

My son just turned 18. I see that fear in his eyes. The poor sucker. I've tried to help, but it's like he has to drown a little to learn to swim.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:55 PM on June 13, 2013 [13 favorites]


As someone who felt like he had to hold it together too much too early, this really resonated.

...he has to drown a little to learn to swim indeed

I love this place - thanks so much for the post.
posted by Otherwise at 8:05 PM on June 13, 2013


oh wow, this interview! i love this interview. it didn't used to be on youtube; i could only find it embedded in some site in a language i don't even speak and there wasn't a view count so i had no idea if other people even knew about it.

I think this is the site, though the video isn't loading at the moment, but there's a blank space where I'm guessing it would go (or went).
posted by filthy light thief at 8:55 PM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I love knowing the background to that song, and how honest Murphy sounds in the interview. There is no glossing over his dull mess of a life. He isn't being humble, he's just being honest, about how he was jealous of the DJ who was playing the same music he liked, and how he realized that was a stupid thing to be jealous about anyway.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:02 PM on June 13, 2013


There's a very particular view of failure and success in what this guy's saying. It's a performer's view of success.

Success is fame. It's being noticed. It's having strangers decide you're cool, gather in a room (or a stadium) to applaud you, pay you for the privilege.

You can also see the deeper layer of active engagement and participation with his peers and the consequent life satisfaction that he derives from that. But that's phrased as part of the process of him getting away from "failure" to the success of fame and fortune.

And I can't help thinking that the most interesting (and thus by my measure, successful) people I know just do their thing. That often involves active engagement with their peers and culture(s), but they're often content not to get paid for it. Happy even for no-one to notice what their doing.

There's different measures, I guess.
posted by Ahab at 9:04 PM on June 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


Also, I love the spoken vocals in the song, which remind me of Play Paul's "Love Song" - though the latter is more sung, but in a very non-pretty way. But both songs pair the vocal styles so well with the electronic "instrumental" elements. Unpolished, but not in some attempt to be more "real" (at least, I don't think that's the goal).
posted by filthy light thief at 9:05 PM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


>Success is fame. It's being noticed. It's having strangers decide you're cool, gather in a room (or a stadium) to applaud you, pay you for the privilege.

Well, that's sort of the *outcome* but what I got out of what - esp say when he's talking about DFW - it's more about having made something good. Like, actually pouring your heart and your energy into making something you think covers the gap between your talent and your taste, as Ira Glass puts it.
posted by pmv at 9:41 PM on June 13, 2013


I think this is the site, though the video isn't loading at the moment, but there's a blank space where I'm guessing it would go (or went).

that's it! and wow, i just read the youtube description--i guess the youtube uploader noticed it was no longer available there and was saving it from obscurity. glad they did so.
posted by a birds at 9:48 PM on June 13, 2013


James goes into this story a bit in the LCD Soundsystem Movie, too. And what struck me what I saw that, and what struck me again here, is how incredibly generous that song is. It's about the fear of these young kids coming up who have the records he has or who know this music. There's this deep anxiety about what their knowledge of 'his' music means for his identity. But then he goes and spends the whole song — including the entirety of the last three stanzas — listing dozens of bands; he just gives it all away!

It is truly an act of great wisdom. He recognized that the problem was not losing his place, his identity, but the fear of losing his place. And that the way through that was to give away what he was holding on to.

I liked James Murphy before I saw that movie; I loved him after. He's one of the most inspiring role models in my life.
posted by wemayfreeze at 11:26 PM on June 13, 2013 [8 favorites]


I can only ever say it as Gil! Scott! Heron!
posted by Beardman at 5:55 AM on June 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


I liked James Murphy before I saw that movie; I loved him after. He's one of the most inspiring role models in my life.

I had the same reaction. I stumbled onto that movie playing one night only... and texted the wife that we were going. Neither of us are super fans, but aware of them, and enjoyed what we knew. And figured a concert movie of the last concert would be really entertaining. And it's Louisville. What are the odds it'll be crowded? (zero.)

I could have watched it again immediately afterwards. And the music parts were great, the non music parts were unbelievably good. I loved this guy so much.

I will purchase anything with his name tied to it for a bit. He's earned my attention in a whole bunch of ways.
posted by DigDoug at 6:11 AM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


And I can't help thinking that the most interesting (and thus by my measure, successful) people I know just do their thing. That often involves active engagement with their peers and culture(s), but they're often content not to get paid for it. Happy even for no-one to notice what their doing.

Well lah-de-duh.

I've never noticed what they're doing either in all likelihood so I can't judge much about this variety of "success." But whether you enjoy making it or not, valuable work is valuable work and it hurts all artists and advantages the independently wealthy when too many good artists are willing to work for free. So I hope your quietly successful friends' work kind of sucks. Otherwise, I guarantee that despite their wide-eyed idealism, if their work finds an audience, someone is going to find a way to make money on it on their behalf.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:06 AM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thanks for this post. I've been feeling a bit down lately about my own failures and its good to hear someone who from my point of view has credibility talking about coping with it.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:16 AM on June 14, 2013


Last night in Saints Row 2 i stayed in a sinking car just to hear more LCD Soundsystem.

I was late to LCD Soundsystem, but the inclusion of Get Innocuous in a GTA4 advertisement turned me on to the music in a big way.
posted by NationalKato at 7:41 AM on June 14, 2013


All I know is the LCD Soundsystem show I saw at Cat's Cradle may well be the best I have ever seen.
posted by fikri at 8:04 AM on June 14, 2013


I was there.

My favorite line in the song was always "And they're actually really, really nice."
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:11 AM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is why I never doubt my ability to be completely wrong about something. I’ve never paid any attention to this guy, other than hearing a couple of things that didn’t grab me, and a vague memory of an interview where he came out sounding bad.

This is a great clip, and now I want to hang out and talk to this guy.
posted by bongo_x at 10:13 AM on June 14, 2013


Well, that's sort of the *outcome* but what I got out of what - esp say when he's talking about DFW - it's more about having made something good. Like, actually pouring your heart and your energy into making something you think covers the gap between your talent and your taste, as Ira Glass puts it.

I find this Zen Pencils rendering of a John Green quote very much in that vein, too. "Make gifts," seems like the right way to approach making things. And I love that he admits sometimes it doesn't work. Something about the distigmatization not just of failure but of negative emotions is just so compelling; just like "Losing My Edge" comes from jealousy, I would rather make good things of those feelings than pretend they don't exist or you are above them or something (which seems a very popular approach these days).
posted by dame at 10:59 AM on June 14, 2013


Losing My Edge was the song that reignited my interest in hip, relevant modern/indie music in 2005 or '06, after it had lain dormant for over a decade.

Through LCD Soundsystem I found other bands like The Knife, Scissor Sisters and (through a very tenuous link via *gulp* Pitchfork), other stuff I liked, including but not limited to Jack White and Iron & Wine.

so yea. LCD were responsible for reminding me how much I loved stuff like PIL, Yaz and the Cocteau Twins during an era that was immersed in heavy-rotation garbage I hated, like REM and Nirvana, and that to toss the baby out with the bathwater is never a good idea.

Also, a decade+ worth of improvement in internet services, music sites and streaming radio have made it virtually effortless to filter out the crap. Not so easily done in the college radio environment of the early 90's; since I was never hip enough to know where to find the in 'zines.
posted by lonefrontranger at 3:40 PM on June 14, 2013


I really resonated with the part where he talks about being praised as a young person for a quality he couldn't change - not for putting in effort or for hard work. I am very, very familiar with that situation. It happens to me up to this very day, and it can be frustrating.

But then I have to remember that what is like breathing for me is not that way for other people, and also that it doesn't mean I can slack off on doing the work of contributing to the world with the gifts I've been given. It means that I need to put in the effort to create more challenging work, then, and damn the torpedoes, no matter how terrified I am of coming off as a fool and a loser.

It's not about praise or what other people think. It's about the work. It's always about the work. If anything, all young people should learn this; hell, all people period who are capable of comprehending the notion need to learn this.
posted by droplet at 7:42 AM on June 15, 2013


Changing the subject for a moment to "Losing My Edge" itself: The Wikipedia article devoted to the song has meticulously-placed links for all of Murphy's shout-outs, except for three: Trojans, Sexual Harassment, and Index.

Allmusic.com gives Index as a remarkably-obscure psychedelic band, and Sexual Harassment *could* be the funk band with their one-hit(?) wonder "I Need A Freak." "Trojans" could be either the R&B band or the reggae band; my money's on the latter knowing a bit about Murphy.

But Wiki could use some help on all three counts. Any volunteers?
posted by dr. zoom at 9:59 PM on June 16, 2013


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