Sufjan Stevens recently sat down with Pitchfork and gave an incredibly reassuring interview about the state of the world, and how to navigate these turbulent times as a creative.
Talking about his new collaborative project ‘Planetarium’ (which he worked on with The National’s Bryce Dessner, composer Nico Muhly, and drummer James McAlister), Sufjan explained that now’s the time to be making art that deals with “fundamental, primal things” like “peace and war, good and evil, the sacred and the profane.”
He said, “Now it’s important for artists and musicians to stop and take stock of what we’re saying and doing, and how we’re living. Does it measure up? Is it substantial? Does it matter? Is it meaningful? Whether I like it or not, my role is to communicate my beliefs, my convictions, my stories, and my own personal narrative to a listener. There’s a responsibility in that mode of communication. I can no longer be frivolous about what I say, and what I sing, and how I speak.”
He also explained the shift from feeling a personal sense of grief, to having a sense of “universal dread” where he feels the weight of being part of the larger global community. He explains, “It feels like it’s not my problem, it’s our problem”; and that ultimately, it’s his job to be making work that will speak truth, and that will outlive him.
Sufjan added, “Artists can be categorized as political leaders, and sages, and prophets, but the work outlives the vessel of the work. The poetry outlives the poet. I really believe in that. But while I’m alive, I’ll keep at it.”
Spot on, Sufjan. Check out his full interview here.