Why No Tour?
Q: Why won’t you be touring to share the music of Wild Animus?
RS: I’m not a performer—never have been and never will be. I had a band in high school, and I got up on stage a few times. It wasn’t for me. I would never have been good at it. I lacked the consistency, and being on exhibition for a crowd felt incurably unnatural. Most people who are good performers enjoy being the center of attention. That’s not me.
I get a tic when I hear people lamenting the advent of technology. You know—“All these new tools make it possible for people who don’t have the chops as performers to make records.” They’re talking about me. I’m shy, and my creative world is a solitary one. I don’t have the skill or the personality to be a performer. I love ideas and words, and writing and music, and the technology has allowed me to make recordings. I feel fortunate that this is possible.
Q: So you’d say you approach music the same way you approach writing?
RS: I’m focused on creating it, and that’s it. What I’m doing lacks the penalties and hardships that go with touring, but it also lacks the rewards. My contact with people who appreciate what I’m doing is distant. A letter or email, or a personal comment. But that’s how it has to be. For now, at least.
I fantasize about being able to “cast” a lead vocalist in a future project, as you would cast an actor in a film. That would make performances possible, and it would allow me to spend more time writing, and less time recording. But with Wild Animus, that was too far to reach.
Can Music Stand Alone?
Q: The three CDs are part of a larger storytelling experience that includes a novel. Can the music stand alone?
RS: I don’t think the music works without the book, for a few reasons. It’s too difficult to figure out what’s going on. A number of the pieces don’t make sense, except in the context of the broader story. Compared with what people are accustomed to with pop songs, the lyrics are wordy and complex, and my vocals are unrefined. If people approach the music with a conventional mindset—looking for a catchy tune, or a mood for the moment, or some new angle on human fashion or attitude—they’re going to be disappointed. If they approach Wild Animus as they would a film—as a story with character and action, and development from scene to scene—they may find it to be a meaningful experience. But that will require them to wade into the novel.
We live in an age in which so much art is deconstructed—where the absence of meaning is embraced. People are used to hearing lyrics that don’t make sense, and aren’t intended to make sense. I’m resigned to the fact that people may hear things that sound confusing in my lyrics, and assume that there’s no sense to make of them. But it ain’t so!