Creativity, and How to Start Over

kanye

MCQUEEN: Talk to me a little bit about Yeezus. The album before that one, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, was a phenomenal success. Did that wear on your mind when you went in to makeYeezus?

WEST: Yeah! So I just had to throw it all in the trash. I had to not follow any of the rules because there was no way to match up to the previous album. Dark Fantasy was the first time you heard that collection of sonic paintings in that way. So I had to completely destroy the landscape and start with a new story. Dark Fantasy was the fifth installment of a collection that included the four albums before it. It’s kind of the “Luke, I am your father” moment. Yeezus, though, was the beginning of me as a new kind of artist. Stepping forward with what I know about architecture, about classicism, about society, about texture, about synesthesia—the ability to see sound—and the way everything is everything and all these things combine, and then starting from scratch with Yeezus … That’s one of the reasons why I didn’t want to use the same formula of starting the album with a track like “Blood on the Leaves,” and having that Nina Simone sample up front that would bring everyone in, using postmodern creativity where you kind of lean on something that people are familiar with and comfortable with to get their attention. I actually think the most uncomfortable sound on Yeezus is the sound that the album starts with, which is the new version of what would have been called radio static. It’s the sonic version of what internet static would be—that’s how I would describe that opening. It’s Daft Punk sound. It was just like that moment of being in a restaurant and ripping the tablecloth out from under all the glasses. That’s what “On Sight” does sonically.”

Kanye West, in conversation with Steve McQueen, on the necessity of a fresh start for any creative project, in Interview magazine. Read more on Kanye.

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Photo: peterhutchins, Flickr

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Sam Stecklow is a TV and journalism student in Chicago. He grew up in Boston and the San Francisco Bay Area. He spends most of his time either watching sitcoms or reading the giant stack of magazines next to his bed.