Hello, this is Kevin Barnes with the band of Montreal. Our new album, Lousy with Sylvianbriar, came out this week. Ask me anything!
Lousy with Sylvianbriar on iTunes - http://smarturl.it/lwsitunes

Twitter - http://twitter.com/xxofmontrealxx

Order Lousy with Sylvianbriar (CD, LP, cassette, digital)

Hey Ya'll, thanks so much for taking part in this, it was great to connect with you on a cyber-personal level:-) take care and good luck and break a leg and stay positive and don't forget to pray to the gods of Jean Giraud!!!!
sincerely KLB

Comments: 714 • Responses: 28  • Date: 

aseaofgreen93 karma

I've loved everything Elephant 6 since i first discovered Neutral Milk Hotel (and of Montreal soon after!)

Do you still talk with other ex-elephant 6ers? Do you have any plans to collaborate more in the future?

Another question: do psychedelics influence your work, or do you naturally think like that? I find a lot of interconnectedness in your work, which is one of the many reasons I love it.

P.S. I LOVE LOUSY WITH SYLVANBRIAR! I think the return to an acoustic style is beautiful -- and I can't wait to get my green LP in the mail.

IAmTrulyKevinBarnes136 karma

I do talk some of the E6 peeps from time to time, I was just thinking today about what a genius W Cullen Hart is.

i don't do psychedelics anymore, if anything i might smoke a j or drink some gin or whatever but i'm not much of a drug enthusiast.

JohnWithNoH75 karma

I love all eras of of montreal, but didn't start listening until hissing fauna. Would you ever consider doing a tour incorporating some of the bands earlier material?

IAmTrulyKevinBarnes205 karma

probably not, unless we did a tour of kindergartens or something.

IAmTrulyKevinBarnes63 karma

Hey Ya'll, thanks so much for taking part in this, it was great to connect with you on a cyber-personal level:-) take care and good luck and break a leg and stay positive and don't forget to pray to the gods of Jean Giraud!!!!

sincerely KLB

EliasandtheError50 karma

Hi Kevin. It's Elias - hope you're well :)

  1. What is your workout/diet? You've gotten progressively more ripped in the last few years. (Yeah, you "bought a Bowflex...")

  2. You kept a very level head during Hissing Fauna/Skeletal Lamping/False Priest in regard to your popularity - you said that fame doesn't last long and just wanted to make as big of a splash as possible. How do you feel about that period now? Do you feel like you accomplished everything you wanted to?

  3. I absolutely love your essays - editorials for magazines, Tumblr, etc. Have you ever considered writing literature more often?

  4. Does it bother you that people think they have the license to speculate upon your marriage/family/friendships because of the honesty in your lyrics? Has the direct nature of your lyrics ever caused tension in your relationships? During a conversation, has anyone ever said to you "You better not put this in a song!"

of Montreal has made my favorite albums of the last decade and I am glad to see you as prolific as ever. Thank you for sharing your work.

IAmTrulyKevinBarnes77 karma

hey man:-) ha ha, thanks, i just follow the Iggy Pop workout method of push ups and running, no real weight lifting...

i don't really think about the past too much, i don't worry about it or reflect on it, i'm too engaged in the present.

i've started compiling a collection of poetry and tking that a bit more seriously but i haven't written any more essays.

i have made people upset in the past cause they felt a certain song was too personal and really only told my half of the story, i totally understand that, but i feel it is important to write from my personal life, mainly cause it helps me work through things and helps my mental state, it's therapy basically

thechimbleysweep39 karma

Hey there. Not a question, but I just wanted to say that I am in love with your brain. Musically and lyrically, I've never been so enamored with anyone else's song writing abilities than I am with yours. Also, "Lousy.." is probably the greatest thing I'll hear in this lifetime, so thank you for that.

IAmTrulyKevinBarnes29 karma

wo, thank you!

davidlove32 karma

Mr. Barnes, you are an inspiration and a hero of mine. of Montreal has been my favorite band for as long as I can remember. I have a thousand questions, but I'll try and limit myself.

Lousy with Sylvianbriar was had some pretty dark and introspective themes. Obsidian Currents really resonated with me, and I was wondering if you would be willing to provide some kind of context for the lyrics?

Anyway thanks for doing this, and I really hope you'll do more in the future.

Also, if you said hi to my girlfriend Maxine, I think she may actually die. I dunno. Just a idea.

IAmTrulyKevinBarnes80 karma

oh, and Hi Maxine:-)

IAmTrulyKevinBarnes74 karma

OC is a song warning me to not be so detached. it's easy for me to just live inside my head and not be sensitive to other people's feelings/needs...it's kind of like when people get a tattoo to be a constant reminder of someone or something, this song is sort of like that


I've listened to nearly everything you've ever recorded (there is a lot)... As much as I feel like I can understand your lyrics and emotions, I always wonder, are you happy? I hope so.

IAmTrulyKevinBarnes61 karma

i'm fairly happy most of the time, or at least i'm not miserable most of the time, i'm a pretty simple animal

JohnWithNoH24 karma

Jon Brion is my favorite music producer. Do you think you will work with him again?

What is something you learned from working him that you use in your own productions now?

IAmTrulyKevinBarnes49 karma

he's great, i'd love to work with him again. he taught me a bunch of things, mainly, how to "frame" a mix-meaning how to add certain sounds to create a more panoramic visual image, also he encouraged me to avoid short cuts like cut and paste while creating an arrangement on a computer, even if it was something like recording a simple maraca track he'd play it all the way through and not just play a couple bars and cut/paste them throughout the song. it was a great education working with him. he made me wanna work harder and become a better musician cause it was so humbling seeing what he could do on any instrument he picked up.

bloodinmyhair21 karma

Kevin I'm speechless right now. I've found myself in so much darkness that I could only get past with help from your songwriting. I've always wanted to know how you are able to write about such twisted emotions without it taking a heavy toll on you mentally. I couldn't write out some of the things you do. Especially in this new album and paralytic stalks, I've found myself nearly sick because you bring up so many things that Ive tried to keep buried deep.. I really admire you for doing this. Seriously. I couldn't but someone needs to. I hope you are well.

Also I just wanted to know what musical influences you had on this record. I swear I hear sgt. Peppers and dark side of the moon. And what were your goals for this album? Do you think you reached them?

IAmTrulyKevinBarnes33 karma

thanks, i'm so happy that my songs have helped you in some way!

it's probably inevitable that the Beatles influence will find their way into everything I do, I listened to them more than anything else growing up and still rediscover them every couple of years, i was actually just thinking about what a great song Day In The Life is

RCGNZR19 karma

Are BP and Dottie done touring with of Montreal or do you plan to have them back at some point?

IAmTrulyKevinBarnes23 karma

i'd love to play with them again, they are great musicians and great friends.

enrique1517 karma

Hello Kevin! I'm a huge fan from Mexico. I only started listening to your music in December of last year, but you've become by far my favorite band in that time. Sorry if I ask too many questions, you don't have to answer all of them, I'm just so excited to have you here!

  1. How did you find out about reddit? A couple of months ago on 4chan, an anonymous user said that he knew you from high school and you guys used to jam together before you went off to form of Montreal. I suggested that he get in touch with you, and maybe plant the idea of doing an AMA in your mind. Did he? How'd that go?

  2. What were the early days of Elephant Six like? It blows my mind that so many brilliant musicians used to be so close together. Any stories you'd like to share? Out of the whole collective, who do you think were the most talented musicians and what were your favorite projects?

  3. What's your favorite album that you've done? Favorite song?

  4. What are you listening to these days? Got any favorites from this year?

  5. Kishi Bashi and Janelle Monáe are another two of my favorite musicians, and I'm glad you've collaborated as much as you have. What did you think of The Electric Lady? Do you know anything about K's next album?

  6. I heard you've already started working on album #13, is this true? Can you tell us anything about it?

  7. What's the deal with Pitchfork? Why are they such assholes?

  8. OK I feel like I'm asking too many things, but I'm really curious about this one. Yesterday I think it was, you tweeted a picture of Mexican money. Does that mean you're coming? Please tell me so!

Thank you so much for doing this AMA, keep up the excellent work!

Oh, and one more thing, what is black wizard love like?

IAmTrulyKevinBarnes27 karma

elephant 6 in the early days was a lot of fun, everyone would play on each other's albums and we'd perform together and have pot lucks and parties all the time, it was great cause up till that point i had never really been around like-minded people who were into the same kind of music as me and wanted to do the same things with their lives...it was great to have that kind of support group during the early days when no one was buying our records or coming to the shows outside of Athens.

i can't really pick a favorite album, if i had to i'd say Sylvianbriar but that's probably just cause it's the newest one and i'm super excited about it. my favorite song that i've written would probably be You Do Mutilate? off of False Priest, it's my favorite to perform live at least, although we don't do the second half of the song ever as it doesn't really translate live.

SoBeginsOurAlabee16 karma

Hey Kevin, love the new album. As I type this, I can't get the chorus of "She Ain't Speakin' Now" out of my head, and I don't even mind.

My first question is, were they any specific records that you felt influencing you during the recording of Lousy With Sylvianbriar? I feel like there's a 60's vibe coming through on a lot of the songs.

And my second question is, how did Rebecca Cash become involved with the group? I think her singing is amazing, and blends really well with yours on the album. I hope she records more with of Montreal in the future, but I'd also love to hear her record an album on her own some day.

IAmTrulyKevinBarnes29 karma

hi, thanks:-) the big albums for me at the time were Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere by Neil Young, Beggers Banquet and Let It Bleed by the Stones, Dylan's Blonde on Blonde and Highway 61 Revisted and Leonard Cohen's Songs of Love and Hate and Grievous Angel by Graham Parsons and Grateful Dead's Working Man's Dead and American Beauty and and and

editrrix15 karma

There are a few references on LWS about afterlife: Tartarus, describing Nina’s face as a seraph (which I originally heard as serif), and I’m wondering, do you believe in or hope for an afterlife and do you believe that our transgressions in this life dictate our experiences after death?

IAmTrulyKevinBarnes102 karma

i don't believe in karma or an afterlife that resembles this life, i imagine and hope that when we die we lose our sense of individualism and become energy for the universe, i don't wanna take the burden of consciousness/identity into an afterlife.

KushTheKitten14 karma

Regale me of a story when debauchery lead into wonder as the night grew strange and the dawn greeted eyes that saw the world anew.

IAmTrulyKevinBarnes34 karma

happy face emoticon doing something unexpected in a carefree manner

l_________l12 karma

Hey Kevin. Big fan and fellow Athenian here. I was wondering what your favorite bar or restaurant in Athens was?

Thanks for doing this AMA!

IAmTrulyKevinBarnes36 karma

hi. i like the royal peasant a lot and world famous is a cool bar, there is a place i go to sometimes called Aroma's(terrible name), it's a strange place cause it's almost never busy and it is decidedly unhip, but i like it for those reasons.

lolayepez11 karma

Kevin! Of montreal has been a salvation for me A sentance of sorts in Kongsvinger helped me through awful terrible emotional times what inspired you to write it?

IAmTrulyKevinBarnes22 karma

thanks, basically terrible emotional times of my own. i felt like i was losing my mind and wrote that song as a way to cope with the madness and confusion and try to lift my spirits

ImportantImportables10 karma

Of all of your countless achievements, which moment would you say has most fulfilled you as a musician?

IAmTrulyKevinBarnes53 karma

all fulfillment is fleeting so i don't really carry around happy memories, i'm always chasing the feeling and hoping it will come again, but when it passes it was almost like it never happened

crystalcastles10 karma

Pumped to see you at The Middle East in Cambridge in a few Saturdays!

Two questions. You often allude to drugs in your music, what chemicals would you say have had the strongest influence on your writing?

Question two, what's it like working with Kishi Bashi? Was it you that taught him the wonders of looping with the DL4?

Thanks for being a great musical influence.

IAmTrulyKevinBarnes21 karma

hi, yeah we're super excited for that show! well i don't really do a lot of drugs, i'm more of a gin and tonic man now a days, i don't normally write "under the influence", i find it distracting and often it just creates obstacles, i tend to write better when i'm just speeding on Yerba Matte.

kishi is great, i didn't teach him anything, he just experimented with the looping stuff on his own. i think we both influenced each other a little, he comes from a more classical background and i'm completely self taught, so he definitely turned me on to a lot of composers that i'd never heard before. he had a big influence on the last album Paralytic Stalks.

Nadjacorn10 karma

Hi Kevin Barnes! Big fan! I was at a show you performed in Maryland and some guy started getting angry and yelling out derogatory names at some of your performers. Firstly I hope this doesn't impact your views on Baltimore but secondly how do you feel you handle negative fans- does it ever make you feel protective of your musical community?

IAmTrulyKevinBarnes15 karma

hi. i don't remember that so i must not have heard him. i'm sure we'd all be annoyed by someone yelling dumb shit at us, luckily it doesn't happen that often.

fersuremaybe8 karma

How are you so awesome and when are you coming to Toronto?

IAmTrulyKevinBarnes29 karma

i'm not sure when we'll be up there again, hopefully soon! i love Toronto, i wish it was a part of the USA, but then again i'm glad it's protected from us.

stankon238 karma

Do you still have the Dollar Rings we gave to you at the Meet and Greet from the show down here in Miami? It was you and Nina's 10th wedding anniversary, I believe. ERNIE ERNIE ERNIE.

Is Big Star a big influence on you? I can see a lot of parallels between your band and them

IAmTrulyKevinBarnes14 karma

i do actually:-)

big star is definitely a big influence, alex chilton was a great writer/singer. Sister Lovers is one of all time faves.

yellowspider8 karma

I love all of your albums, and Sylvianbriar is no exception.

Just wondering, I hear a rumor that you're going to be making Rebecca Cash's first album. Is that true, and if it is, can you tell us a little about it? What is might sound like, and when we could expect it?

IAmTrulyKevinBarnes16 karma

yeah i think rebecca and i will work on an album together later this year, probably in december, i love her voice and she's a really good song writer too, i'm not sure what it will sound like but i imagine it will be "art pop" with a Nigerian spirit

dmack47 karma

My three favorite records of yours are of wildly different styles. How are you able to write songs that just stick in so many genres?

IAmTrulyKevinBarnes19 karma

it's a fun challenge to try to write in different genres, after i write one kind of song i usually try to write something totally different, just to push myself to explore new things

postmod-squad6 karma

Out of curiosity, Kevin, how much Norwegian can you speak? Er du helt flytende på norsk, eller...? (I ask because it was "Around the Way" that really got me to begin studying a couple of years ago.)

IAmTrulyKevinBarnes14 karma

i don't know much, mainly stuff like jeg er sulten and takk for maten, mostly food related things;-)

prnight6 karma

Hey Kevin, I’ve been a fan of you and of Montreal for a while now. I’ve always wondered if you have certain artists that you look to for inspiration, or, what style of music are you listening to other than what you produce? Also, are you experimenting with any new instruments or sounds that we haven’t heard yet?

IAmTrulyKevinBarnes27 karma

i'd like to make an album influenced by the Talking Heads "Eno Period", i've been kind of obsessing over Fear of Music and Remain in Light recently. that and Bowie's Lodger and the Walker Brother's album Nite Flights.

jesusandtequila785 karma

The early of Montreal albums are inspired by vaudeville, but they, to my mind, decidedly ignore the "naughty" jokey sexuality of vaudeville. However, when funk and R&B entered the fold later, the overt sexuality of that genre was very much embraced. Any insight as to why that is?

IAmTrulyKevinBarnes32 karma

i think when i made those early records i was trying to escape from the adult world and live inside of this imaginary world of suspended childhood, sort of like Gunter Grass's Tin Drum, but only in my mind. i was basically a celibate. i guess when i started writing funkier stuff all that repression and pent up sexual energy was released and it fueled a new chapter in my art and life.

XiveofMontreal3 karma

Hey Kevin!

I can't tell you how exciting this is for me. Of Montreal has been such a staple in my life for years now, and you, a concurrent role model (or deity, maybe). Your melodies brought me such joy when I first listened to Sunlandic Twins and eventually made my way all the way down to the Bird Who Continues to eat the Rabbit's flower. Every new album was a trial, with me hating albums like Skeletal and False Priest. Eventually, I learned to love the Georgie Fruit you created and was so sad to see him go in thecontrollersphere. Regardless, Paralytic Stalks was one of my favourite albums for a while, with your combination of a Satanic Panic and Skeletal Lamping feel; the marriage was beautiful. I got the leaked Sylvianbriar (I can't wait to buy it when I get back home)a few weeks ago and while I was scared to see of Montreal take a different turn, with new members and a new sound, I decided that you know what's best, and that change is always welcome. Rebecca has been a continuingly surprisingly delightful addition, and your incorporation of sounds from your older eras as well as completely new ones makes Sylvianbriar a deliciously cohesive piece.

Sorry for going on and on, as I could talk about of Montreal forever, and my girlfriend and I like to say we've listened to more of you than anyone in the known universe, including you. Hopefully we can talk at the 40Watt next week. I can't wait for the concert!

Anyways, out of the myriad of questions I have for you from the validity of the allusion in "Gallery Piece" to "Montreal," to the similarities of Nicki Coco and Nicki Lighthouse, I really just want to know what you've been listening to right now. I know you're busy and I love the influence the Grateful Dead and the Burrito Brothers had on Sylvianbriar, but what did you listen to yesterday, the day before? Also, could you please have Nina come out of the shadows more. Her directing nuances are delightful, and I would love to think of her as I do you, and not the beast portrayed in "The Past is the Grotesque Animal." Any description on what you really see in her, and not the mists and mirrors you put up in your albums that makes me question who the lyrics are really about, fictional or otherwise. Still, I guess the artist is the master of illusions! Also, what are your favourite novels and movies?

Kevin, whether you ever meet me or not, I love your music, and I love you. I've listened to everything from Daughter of Cloud to Young Froth/Taypiss dozens(I really mean dozens, as in 50++ times) of times, and you've been such a part of my life. I can't wait to see you in Athens next week! Thanks so much for reading this. Tell Rebecca and the Gang your legitimate Number One (closet) Fan said hello!

IAmTrulyKevinBarnes13 karma

ha ha, ok i will. the most recent things i listened to were Astrud Gilberto, Robert Wyatt,Marvin Gaye, Glasser,Nina Simone and Sly and the Family Stone. recent books, Cormac Mccarthy's Outer Dark, Dellilo's Libra, Lerner's Leaving the Atocha Station...