Pitchfork: As someone who’s maintained a creative lifestyle for about 30 years now, what advice would you give to someone who’s considering that path now?
JC: One of the problems of our modern world is that there’s a lot of things to work through, but, at some point, everybody should take a pause from that and make something, so that it’s not just all one-way traffic. Human beings aren’t meant to be solely consumers—eventually, something has to come out. Otherwise, I don’t really see what the point of all that consumption is. The idea behind watching things and listening to things is that it stirs something within you, and hopefully that will stimulate you to then create your own thing.
I love the Internet, but it’s hard not to get lost in it. It’s not like a book where you start and get to the end. It’s like we’ve found a way to encapsulate all of human knowledge within one thing only to learn that you can’t do that. It’s an overabundance of information. Ultimately, it must be quite tough to be confronted with that. If you wanted to be a creative person and you are confronted with the sum product of mankind’s creativity up to this moment in history, that’s pretty daunting, like, “Where can I fit my voice in amongst all that?”
Pitchfork: Yeah, the idea of making something new can seem pointless because you know it’s going to be thrown on top of this endless pile of stuff.
JC: What people have to make sure of is that they’re not replicating something that already exists. You really have to ask yourself: “Is there a point in me doing this? Has this already been said before? Is this moving things along or is this just adding to the giant pile of junk that’s already there?” Social commentators give this kind of idea names like “cultural gridlock,” where things like music don’t seem to be developing so much. It’s not like the music of 1994 is that different than the music of 2014—and that’s 20 years worth.
But I believe that humans adapt to circumstance. The Internet is quite an unprecedented circumstance, so it’s going to take people a while to get their heads around it. You read things about writers, for instance, who get computer programs so that they can’t surf the Internet when they’re supposed to be writing. People are learning that you’ve got to find some way of shutting things off in order to give your own mind a chance to produce something. It’s interesting that most gadgets are called “iPhone” and “iPod,” with that “i” prefix, which is ego. But most creativity is not ego-led—a lot of it comes from the unconscious. So if you’re always checking your email or updating your Instagram profile, you’re not just looking out the window, daydreaming. You’ve got to let the subconscious in—that’s my main message to the world. I sound like I’ve been reading too many self-help books, don’t I?