2015 Artist Survey: Telekinesis | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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2015 Artist Survey: Telekinesis

Michael Benjamin Lerner on 2015's Best Albums, Getting Fired, and Early Childhood Memories

Feb 23, 2016 Issue # 56 - Best of 2015 - Father John Misty and Wolf Alice Photography by Chris Beck Bookmark and Share

For Under the Radar’s 13th annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to 2015. We asked them about their favorite albums of the year and their thoughts on various notable 2015 news stories involving either the music industry or world events, as well as some quirkier personal questions.

Check out our Best of 2015 print and digital issues for answers from Arcade Fire’s Will Butler, Julien Baker, Blanck Mass, CHVRCHES, Dan Deacon, The Dears, Dutch Uncles, EL VY, Everything Everything, Father John Misty, Field Music, The Flaming Lips, How to Dress Well, Sondre Lerche, Low, Luna, Mew, NZCA Lines, Cullen Omori, Natalie Prass, Small Black, Surfer Blood, Tamaryn, Telekinesis, Vampire Weekend’s Chris Baio, The Walkmen, Youth Lagoon, and others.

Here are some answers from Michael Benjamin Lerner, who records as Telekinesis. Telekinesis’ most recent album, Ad Infinitum, was released last year via Merge. A shorter version of this interview ran in the Best of 2015 print issue, which is still on newsstands now. This is the full unedited version of the interview.

Top 10 Albums of 2015

1. Grimes: Art AngelsAn incredibly crafted pop record. It’s like all my favorite Top 40 pop records, without any of the filler, and if they took a little bit more risk.
2. Tame Impala: CurrentsJust the first song alone would suffice. It’s a masterpiece. But this whole record, though a bit long for my taste, doesn’t disappoint and further cements Kevin Parker as a super genius.
3. Sufjan Stevens: Carrie & LowellAn intensely beautiful and immensely personal record. Seeing this live at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle was one of the most life-affirming shows I’ve ever seen. It was amazing to see Sufjan be so vulnerable on stage (he got teary during one song, as did everyone else in that theatre).
4. Tobias Jesso Jr.: GoonA straight-up Randy Newman revival, which is A-OK by me. It’s a great record of piano-based songwriting. And what a year for Mr. Jesso Jr., having just co-written a new song on the Adele record. Pretty amazing.
5. Kendrick Lamar: To Pimp a ButterflyNothing to say about this that hasn’t already been said. It’s an instant classic.
6. Sleater-Kinney: No Cities to LoveAn incredibly great rock record. Don’t call it a comeback. It feels as if they never left.
7. Drake: “Hotline Bling”Not a record I know, but yes, this plus the video, totally perfect.
8. The Weeknd: Beauty Behind the MadnessTo be fair, I’ve only really listened to “I Can’t Feel My Face” and “The Hills” over and over and over. So, if any of the other songs are half as good as those, I’m pretty jazzed to dig in.
9. Chris Staples: Cheap Shades EPA few new songs, and a collection of B-sides, and live renditions of American Soft favorites. I love love love “Cindy, Diana, Janet and Wanda” a lot.
10. New Order: Music CompleteIt’s a new New Order record! There are some real gems on here.

What was the highlight of 2015, for either you personally or for the band? What was the low point?

For me, personally, it was finishing and ultimately releasing Ad Infinitum. It was the first record I made in my house from start to finish, and it was also quite a departure from the other records I’ve done. It really felt like a major accomplishment! The low point, which really wasn’t all that low in hindsight, was playing to a total of four people (sound guy included) in Arcata, CA on this last Telekinesis tour. The promoter apologized after the show and said “You gotta come back when everyone isn’t up in the hills harvesting the weed.” Lesson learned.

What are your hopes and plans for 2016?

I hope to start working on writing and recording some new songs, and also work on getting licensed to get into real estate.

What are your thoughts on Friday being the new global release day for albums? Is it helping or hurting album sales?

I don’t really think it’s helping or hurting album sales, personally. It just feels strange to have the day change from Tuesday to Friday. It’s a jarring thing to do.

Have you ever been fired from a job (be it a day job or musical one)? Why were you fired?

I was basically fired from my job at Tully’s Coffee in Seattle. I worked there for two weeks, and I was also trying at the same time to get a job at a record store. One day, the record store offered me a position but I had to start right away, so I told my manager at Tully’s, and she basically fired me and then also said I was not welcome at any Tully’s forever. I don’t know if that meant as a worker, or customer. But I’ve not gone back to a Tully’s to figure it out.

What’s your earliest music-related childhood memory?

It all revolves around The Beatles. Just singing The Beatles songs with my mom and dad.

Where do you see yourself in five beers?

Portly and passed out on the floor.



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