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17 October 2021

David Byrne Talks To Lorde: “I Had No Fear Of Pop Melody”

David Byrne Tony Award American Utopia
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David Byrne and Lorde are the latest musical pairing to take part in Rolling Stone‘s Musicians On Musicians series of conversations.

When asked about his early material and inspirations, Byrne opened up: “I listen to earlier things and I sound a bit desperate, trying to get across, which is a good thing too. I remember, probably like a lot of people, buying these songbooks from different artists, just kind of learning the songs. Sometimes things I didn’t really care for that much, but I thought, ‘Let’s see how this is done.’ Maybe learn to play this on a guitar, and sing along, just for myself. And through that, I would learn, ‘Oh, look, you can go from this chord to that chord, and it has this kind of emotional lift to it right there. I should remember that.’

Byrne went on to discuss the way in which he’s learnt to embrace beauty and accessibility in music: “I’ve learned that there’s nothing wrong with a song sounding beautiful. You can say something quite profound, something kind of radical, even, but the melody can sound quite beautiful and seductive on the surface. And then it sucks you into something where it might really change your way of thinking… I had no fear of pop melody or being accessible. I don’t think in the beginning I was able to do it.”

When asked by Lorde whether he had any wisdom to impart to younger artists, Byrne reflected: “Sometimes I might think that I have some wisdom that I should impart to somebody else — ‘You need to know this,’ or whatever — but I also feel, who are you to be telling other people? So I often pull back. Who are you to presume that you know better than someone else? Better that they discover it, by seeing what you’re doing for themselves, rather than you telling them.”

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