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Of Comedy & Tragedy: Destroyer’s Dan Bejar talks pop music, movie soundtracks and old words.

“..tragedy forces you to come up with pure poetry in your writing. At least that’s what Shakespeare taught us.”
By Sam Tolman

Destroyer never was suppose to be popular, so when Kapputt became the accidental breakthrough record, Dan Bejar tried to live down the hype. However, it’s hard to stand by Bejar to tone down Destroyer when you hear the music. It immerses you into Bejars theatre of the mind, whether you’re in Time Square, watching Bejar talking to the back of a missed lover, or parading through the streets, Bejar is a humble, storied guide in his music. It’s a beautiful, surprising musical journey Bejar takes you on, but you’ll be glad to stumble upon it. We got to talk about a wide range of topics, check out our conversation below –



Who are you and what do you do?

I’m Dan Bajar, and I sing a little bit, and play guitar a little bit in a group called Destroyer.

Speaking of being a singer, what does that entail for you? You’ve talked about it quite a bit.

Hmm. That’s a hard question. A singer is someone who opens up their mouth with some kind of noise or melody in the background. I think when I said that kind of stuff, I was really trying to conjure up some war about writers versus singer and trying to pick a side, but I don’t know if that war exists. Some people got it all, you know?

Indeed. I’ve noticed that you seem to have a tangled relationship with pop music – you’ve spoken against overproduced pop music, but yet Poison Season has been seen some of the more poppier songs Destroyer has ever had. I’m curious if there’s a balance you try to strike in songwriting regarding a pop sound?

I feel like a lot of what songs maybe allowed for these days isn’t so much in the melody or in the lyric, but in the kind of vibe the producer conjures up. You want your song to be immediate, you want people to like it.

It’s weird – when I’m actually writing songs I don’t think about that kind of stuff at all, you know? I’m in a very thoughtless, automatic way. It’s mostly about coming up with a general feeling that you like. It’s only when you’re stuck in the studio when you start to grapple with that other stuff.



So, in another interview, you’ve spoken about how you’re against comedy –

(laughter) Did I say that?!

Heh. Yeah. It was with FaceCulture, I think.

Damn. I don’t know how to defend myself. I think I was trying to get at a different version of comedy.

Okay, good. It sounded like you were devoid of emotion.

Well, that’s not true! I’m into tragedy. That’s very emotional. I’m more of a tragedy guy.

What’s appealing about tragedy?

I’m not a very tragic person, or write very tragic things. I like that tragedy forces you to come up with pure poetry in your writing. At least that’s what Shakespeare taught us. I like the old forms.

Old forms?

By the old words? Terms that are 1,000 of years old. We still use them even though we don’t know if they apply to the world we live in.

To stray away from music, I’m curious if you have any influences outside the musical realm.

Yeah – that was the whole point of Destroyer for decades, was to try to cram things into songs that you wouldn’t normally find in songs. Say things in songs that you wouldn’t normally hear in songs, but sound more like film. I’ve always liked film, I’ve been kind of obsessive with it, it’s kind of the thing I love most, more than music.

Old forms?

By the old words? Terms that are 1,000 of years old. We still use them even though we don’t know if they apply to the world we live in.

Interesting. What kind of films resonate with you?

When I was making a bunch of ambient music for Kaputt, a lot of my touchstones were Michael Mann movies or Nino Rota who did a lot of scores for (Federico) Fellini movies. I was thinking of him a lot when we made Poison Season. It’s kind of a recent thing.

Cool. I’ve got no more questions. Anything else you want to add?

Not really. I’m looking forward to the show.

Thanks for talking with us, Dan. We’ll see you in Missoula

You can see Dan Bejar, with Destroyer at the Top Hat this Thursday, September 22nd. Tickets are on sale here.

Liked this interview? Check out the other ones we’ve done.

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