Wayne Krantz: Inspired Transition
AAJ: You must have been asked a thousand times over the years about your guitar influences, but which vocalists or lyricists impress you most?
WK: I have to say that I'm typically not touched by lyrics. I don't often notice them. I can sing along with the melody of a song but I don't often think about the words. So, I can't really say that I've been influenced by anybody in the writing I'm doing now. It's been more of a process of trying to figure out what I would want to sing about. When you decide you're going to sing, the next question is what are you going to sing? I had this sense that lyrics are either about love, sex or money essentially, and I wasn't really comfortable singing about any of those things in the sense that I didn't feel I had anything to say particularly, or something that I'd want to share.
On the last record "It's No Fun Not to Like Pop" was primarily an instrumental song that had a tiny bit of vocal content, with a pretty vague message. The song "I Was Like..." refers to the fact that in New York people use the word "like" constantly. You can get irritated listening to it after a while, so that was an easy rant to write about. But you can't just write about rants, so what does that leave? I think answering these kinds of questions is what took me so long to add this element. I've been trying to write words to songs since 1995, so it took 13 years just to get to that point where I felt comfortable enough with what I was coming up with to actually put it in a song.
AAJ: The Ice-Cube song "Check Yo Self" is a cracking track, but is effectively an instrumental song; did you ever toy with the idea of singing the rap lyrics yourself?
WK: I'm not really drawn to style and idiom so much. Although that could change because one of my great inspirations is The Beatles' White Album (Apple, 1968), which is a collection of one style after another and they really do delve pretty deeply into it track by track in a very satisfying way. There's something about being able to use a style but still have your personal stamp on it. A problem I have with a lot of stylistic stuff is that it sounds derived when the style takes over the content and the person doing it becomes inconsequential. To me, at that point it stops being personally expressive. It simply becomes an expression of your adoration for a style and for me that's just not enough.
That said, I've actually started thinking about the next record and it's possible that I could try to tackle some styles more explicitly and more faithfully, just to see if I could still manage to put my stamp on it. That could be pretty interesting.
AAJ: The track "I'm Afraid That I'm Dead" stands apart both lyrically and musically from the other tracks. It's an arresting piece. How did electronic musician Yasushi Miura get involved?
WK: It was in a notebook of words and ideas that I'd kept for years. I was going through those notebooks and ran across that and it seemed particularly sincere in a way and I thought that it might actually translate. It's safe to say that it came from a pretty introspective moment at that time in my life, whenever that was. I ended up writing it on piano, and I'm not really sure why. It just didn't seem like a guitar song at the time.
Yasushi Miura was someone whose stuff I'd heard on the radio. I'd never heard of him before, but I noticed that several times when I heard a track that appealed to me, when I bothered to find out who it was it was him; different kinds of tracks, different music. I realized there is something in this guy's music that I connect with. I found his e-mail and e-mailed him. He actually knew who I was and he was nice enough to send me a bunch of his stuff. I really liked it, and as I was writing this song I thought it would be great if I could get him to do something. I emailed him the track, he did the track and it was perfect.
It does stand out. It's the only track on the record I'm not playing guitar on. It's the only track I've ever recorded where I'm not playing guitar. That alone is kind of odd.
AAJ: Tell us a little about bassist Tal Wilkenfeld. She's somebody who's achieved a lot in a relatively short space of time; what's it like playing with her?
WK: She's outstanding because she has this tremendous energy and drive, in addition to being really talented musically. She has a lot of direction and is fearless, and that's an outstanding quality. She made her first record that I played on [Transformation (Self Produced, 2007)] and it turns out her writing is on a high level. It was quite sophisticated. I had these two tracks I wanted to do with [drummer] Vinnie Colaiuta and it was obvious to me that she was the right choice for the pace on those tracks. They've played a lot together. It worked great. I was in L.A. for just one day and we did those two tracks. I was very, very happy with the way they turned out.