2014 Artist Survey: Boxed In

Oli Bayston on 2014's Best Albums, the Ferguson Shooting, Mark Kozelek vs. The War on Drugs, and U2's Free Album

Jan 19, 2015 Web Exclusive
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For Under the Radar's 12th annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to 2014. We asked them about their favorite albums of the year and their thoughts on various notable 2014 news stories involving either the music industry or world events, as well as some quirkier personal questions.

Check out our Best of 2014 print and digital issues for answers from alt-J, Camera Obscura, Chromeo, The Dears, Death From Above 1979, Deerhoof, The Drums, The Flaming Lips, Glass Animals, Hookworms, Sondre Lerche, of Montreal, Ought, Owen Pallett, The Rosebuds, Strand of Oaks, Teleman, Sharon Van Etten, The War on Drugs, Warpaint, Woman's Hour, Wye Oak, Zola Jesus, and others.

Here are some answers from Oli Bayston of Boxed In.

Top 10 Albums of 2014

In no particular order:

1. Kate Tempest: Everybody Down

2. Teleman: Breakfast 

3. Caribou: Our Love

4. Aphex Twin: Syro

5. Avi Buffalo: At Best Cuckold

6. Beck: Morning Phase

7. Wild Beasts: Present Tense

8. The War on Drugs: Lost in the Dream

9. Damon Albarn: Everyday Robots

10. Todd Terje: It's Album Time-Mainly because of the title.

What was the highlight of 2014 for either you personally or for the band? 

I recently went on a trip to Ibiza to celebrate finishing George Fitzgerald's album. He flew us out there and we watched him headline a closing party, playing out the tracks we'd written for the first time. 

What was the low point of 2014 for you? 

I'd rather not mention it.

What are your hopes and plans for 2015?

I aim to do a lot of live performances [in the] next year. Having spent this [past] year in the studio producing non-stop, I'm looking forward to a busy festival season and lots of touring.

U2's new album was downloaded for free into millions of users' iTunes accounts without their permission. Was it a wonderful gift to music fans or an invasive action that devalues music? Also, which artist, other than you, deserves to have their album automatically downloaded to half a billion people more than U2?

It was an error of judgment on their behalf. I think they overestimated the importance people place on them and their music. No one deserves the opportunity to invade other people's privacy.

Did you take part in the ice bucket challenge? If not, why not? Grimes declined due to animal testing issues, was the grief she got for that deserved?

I didn't. There are other ways to contribute to charity, which I do, although I did enjoy seeing David Lynch taking part in a soaking. I'm a fan of his work.

The shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri opened up a new national dialogue on police shootings and racism in America. Do you think anything will actually change because of it?

I believe it will have a lasting impact, but in a small way. Real change comes from an accumulation of significant events, which we've seen implement change in a big way, particularly in the previous century. Unfortunately, it often takes extreme events to place a microscope over an enduring social issue.

What's your craziest theory for what happened to the missing Malaysian Air flight?

Courtney Love was pretty thorough in her investigation. I'd go with what she said. 

Mark Kozelek was criticized in 2014 for insulting his audience (calling them "hillbillies" for talking during his set) and for making fun of The War on Drugs when their sound bled over to the stage he was playing. What responsibility do performers have to be respectful of their audiences and fellow bands?

Festivals are always fraught with inconsistent performing conditions. Just get on with it and give your crowd the best experience possible. Unless you're Morrissey and decide to walk off stage because you smell a BBQ in the distance. 

"Weird Al" Yankovic was back in a big way this year. If he were to lampoon any one of your songs, which one would you want it to be? What would the "Weird Al" version's lyrics be about? 

I don't really know "Weird Al" Yankovic's music, but I'd be interested to hear his take on "No Joke." Might be really funny. 

Which common criticism of your music do you most agree with?

Some people can't hear the lyrics, which I sometimes agree with.

What's the most uplifting or heartwarming fan interaction you've ever had?

In an old band, a fan flew from Japan to follow us around our U.K. tour, staying in every town we played for a couple of weeks. That was quite overwhelming. We made sure to give her the best shows we could.

What's the topic no one asks you about in interviews that you wish they would? Conversely, if you could get journalists to stop asking you one question, which would it be?

Recording techniques, but it's probably really boring to read, unless you're into recording yourself. And to stop asking what one question they would want me stop having asked.

Who from your youth (such as a former bully, an unrequited love) do you most hope pays attention to the fact that you're now a successful musician?

Gloating isn't pretty, so no one. If people I knew as a kid have seen that I'm now following my dream as a grown up, that makes me happy. I just hope they're doing the same.

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