2016 Artist Survey: Kristina “Teeny” Lieberson of TEEN
Lieberson on 2016's Best Albums, Trump and the Election, First Kisses, Brexit, Friends, and Scary Movies
Jan 31, 2017 Issue # 59 - 15th Anniversary
Find It At: AMAZON
For Under the Radar's 14th annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to 2016. We asked them about their favorite albums of the year and their thoughts on various notable 2016 news stories involving either the music industry or world events, as well as some quirkier personal questions. Here are some answers from Kristina "Teeny" Lieberson of TEEN. The band's latest album, Love Yes, came out in 2016 via Carpark.
For our annual Artist Surveys we emailed the same set of questions to musicians about Trump and the election, 2016's deaths, self-driving cars, Stranger Things, first kisses, scary movies they shouldn't have seen as a child, which Friends character they are most like, and much more.
Pick up or download Under the Radar's Best of 2016 / 15th Anniversary Issue for Artist Survey interviews with Amber Arcades, Austra, Faris Badwan of Cat's Eyes and The Horrors, Boxed In, Caveman, The Charlatans, Cursive, Lucy Dacus, The Dears, C Duncan, Sadie Dupuis of Sad13 and Speedy Ortiz, Dutch Uncles, Ezra Furman, Robyn Hitchcock, The Invisible, Justin Lockey of Editors and Minor Victories, Lost Under Heaven (LUH), Lush, Midlake, Phantogram, The Range, Springtime Carnivore, Sunflower Bean, Surfer Blood, TEEN, The Thermals, Nick Valensi of CRX and The Strokes, Jenn Wasner of Flock of Dimes and Wye Oak, and Yuck.
A shorter version of TEEN's survey appeared in the print version of Under the Radar's Best of 2016 / 15th Anniversary Issue, this is the full unedited version.
Top 10 Albums of 2016
1. Solange: A Seat at the Table
2. Vangelis: Rosetta
3. David Bowie: Blackstar
4. Esperanza Spalding: Emily's D+Evolution
5. Steve Vai: Modern Primitive / Passion & Warfare (25th Anniversary Edition)
6. Cate Le Bon: Crab Day
7. Vince Staples: Prima Donna
8. Jenny Hval: Blood Bitch
9. letlive.: If I'm the Devil—Their videos are compelling to say the least.
10. A Tribe Called Quest: We Got It From Here... Thank You 4 Your Service
2016 was regarded by many as a fairly tough and negative year. Was it also a hard year for you personally? If so, how? And also what were the high points for you?
Yes, Donald Trump is president. Let's leave it at that.
What are your thoughts on how the U.S. presidential election played out?
Too many to express in a short paragraph, but mainly, we still live in a racist, misogynist, and ignorant country. It is time for our moral obligations to become vastly more important than our financial interests. As far as I'm concerned, the left needs to become as fiercely oppositional as the right.
Let's discuss Donald Trump. What does the rise of Trump tell you about America in 2016? What concerns you most about a Trump presidency? How do you think his presidency might personally change your life? What message do you have for those who voted for Trump? What actions will you take over the course of the next four years to either protest a Trump presidency or support it?
Again, a lot to discuss in a short amount of space, but, what I eluded to above- a fair amount of people in this country still have beliefs that belong nowhere ever, but especially nowhere in 2016. I am concerned for health care, terrified by friendships with the fossil fuel industry, worried for women's rights, and the rights of those who are not white, hetero, cis, financially secure, Christian, or basically anyone that isn't aligned visually or mentally with someone in Trump's cabinet. I don't have much to say to those who voted for Trump except our country is becoming more diverse and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. It is time to share the wealth. Progressives will win, we always do, but it is going to take a fight to get there—those in power are holding on strong. Everybody deserves equal rights. That being said, I believe that education is essential at this point in our story. I'm afraid with the rise of misinformation and the media's shaping of one's perception (guided by preference) this will be a difficult task. They are most awesome tools of distraction. As for what actions I will take, I am currently researching organizations that need volunteers and where I believe I can help, and I aim to speak out through my art and music as best I can. I am also motivated to become more involved with my local government.
What reality TV star would you have rather been elected president?
No one. A reality TV star should never be president.
If you were president, what would you try to accomplish in your first 100 days in office?
Too much to answer here. I'll get back to you on this one.
What are your thoughts on Brexit and the future of the European Union? To what extent do you think the Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump were motivated by the same factors?
I believe the root is intrinsically the same; fear of others and ignorance. However, those in power are a little different than the general public. I think the rise of the far right and authoritarian leanings are more of a proclamation by whites wanting to maintain their power. This is very different from the "reclaiming" that most of these leaders are preaching. Let's be very clear—they have never lost their power and influence over our societies.
We lost three highly influential music icons in 2016. What are your thoughts on the passing of David Bowie, Prince, and Leonard Cohen? And what are your favorite albums by each artist?
It feels very heavy, especially when influenced so intensely by each artist. Maybe it's just a call to get motivated and make music that means something. Each of us has a job to fill those voids. And I can't really say which is my fave by each of these legends, I can just say what I like best at the moment. Right now I like David Bowie: Hunky Dory, Prince: Parade, and Leonard Cohen: Songs of Leonard Cohen.
What do you think Prince and Bowie's afterlife project sounds like?
Which Friends character are you most like?
Whoa this question is WAY left field! But I guess Ross? I do love sandwiches tho...
What scary movie did you see way too young as a child, how'd you end up seeing it, and does it still scare you now?
The Shining at a friend's house. Couldn't sleep for months. And yes, it still terrifies me.
Are you ready for self-driving cars and a more automated future?
No. I'm ready to get off the grid and grow my own food.
Tell us about the most memorable fan encounter you had this year.
These really sweet fans drove all the way to Iowa City (I believe they had to drive something like four hours to get there) to see us play and they were literally the only people in the audience. They were so supportive and made that show enjoyable for us when it could've been the WORST. That's when fans can really make a difference.
Tell us about your first kiss.
It was in the basement at school, sans tongue.
Under the Radar has been around for 15 years now, since December 2001. How do you feel the music industry has most changed in that time, both for the better and the worst?
The way we listen and consume music is the most obvious difference, and I'm not sure it's better or worse. It's just different; different means of the same beast. A positive thing about the shift due to the Internet is artists can create themselves and reach their audiences directly. However, because there is so little money in the music industry these days, I do see a shift in musician's attitudes towards what it means to be successful and how that influences what their music sounds like. We came to the independent world to engage in alternative perspectives. But now that world has succumbed to feeding the same capitalist mentality of art as commercial; everyone wants to be that crossover artist. I truly sympathize with this struggle! But I do hope there is a shift. I think this needs to come from artists seeing the worth in their work whether or not it is a financial success and pursuing more experimental and courageous avenues. Side note—a call to rich musicians-rather than starting labels or "fair" streaming sites, start grant systems that us lowly artists can apply to. You can afford it.
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