It surely has become a rare sight to see international artists making their way to Berlin in the past months. While on a recent promo trip in Europe, Kurt Vile took the chance to stop by in his label’s office for a couple of hours – almost turning back the clocks a bit to a time when press days were happening on a regular basis.
Casually moving through the room and eventually making himself comfortable on the big sofa, there is a a touch of innocence and good-heartedness surrounding him throughout our conversation. An enviable ease of mind that well shines through his answers that day and continuously lives in his music alike. It is hard to picture the Philadelphia musician being anything other than that – naturally being in good spirits always looking on the bright side of life. In 2022, Vile even seems to have reached a new level of zen.
His ability to space out definitely came in handy for Vile who spent a great deal of his time making (watch my moves) from the comfort of his Philadelphia home studio fueling his imagination in all possible ways. Wandering though the corners of his mind, picking up thoughts and ideas along the way:
“I have always had that…and I come from a large family – I could always space out at any time and that is an ideal place. Honestly, I was excited and glad nobody was telling me I had to be somewhere else. I finally had an excuse to stay home and work from there and that included waking up in the morning and just sitting there – that is part of my job, just to be able to space out and travel.”
For most traveling musicians being on the road and therefore always on the move is the closest thing they have to an established routine. Something Vile can relate to all too well as he states: “I realized I had no routine in general because I was always coming and going. I didn’t even know how to have a routine at home. I wanted one, but I didn’t even know what that was. Just things like getting organized. It’s nice.”
Instead of being paralyzed by the thought of not being able to physically travel for a while, these new circumstances made Kurt Vile leave his old habits behind in favor of a more healthy routine as he confirms: “I’d say my work rhythm changed to a healthier routine. I’d get up in the morning, have a couple of hours to just ease into the day, go down to the studio in the afternoon and work on and off and then around dinner time stop and then have the night to chill off. It’s a pretty adult schedule – turns out I needed it. Before, it was lifetime of a complete opposite schedule for me.”
One Step After Another
Kurt Vile’s boyish looks and mischievous smile are still very much there on the outside while a certain change of heart has clearly been going on for a while. It was a slow process for the songwriter who proudly shares his inner journey with us on this sunny spring day in Berlin:
“It’s one step after another for me. A few years ago I quit drinking and then slowly quit various versions of partying. I don’t eat meat and I eat healthier in general. This is all thanks to my wife, by the way. I try to wake up at more sane hours, do yoga in the morning when I can. All those things make a huge difference pretty quick. Just keep your eyes on the prize, keep it healthy.”
Summing up his current way of life, he adds: “I would never cut anything completely out like deny myself anything, except I know I shouldn’t drink. I’ll plan to never drink again. But other than that, everything has its fun moments. I’m just lucky because I got daughters – that world is pretty fun.” A genuine sense of happiness resonating in his words as soon as he starts talking about his family before he continues:
“Calmness is something I feel really good about. That is like the best version of myself. I definitely can be the opposite because life is scary. Life on a grand scale or even just my personal universe at times. I’m actually a really sensitive person. I guess I always knew that, but then my wife and my daughters are all sensitive too, but there is a new awareness for me know – like hey, you’re actually a sensitive person.”
“Ultimately, the best place where you could be be is calm. Just take a breath. Take it slow because on the opposite side there are terrible, scary things. Try to keep it light. Stay away from the darkness.”
(watch my moves) and its at times meditative, yet uplifting nature certainly seems to benefit from Kurt Vile’s aura of lightheartedness, balance and basic trust in the way he approaches working on new music and letting his creativity run free as much as possible:
“I discovered a while ago, things will reveal themselves over time. Say you have a lot of work to do, like emails or something, you just go into your office, but then all of a sudden you lay down a bunch of demos. You just got to be a receptor to it until eventually there is a deadline. There is a lot of inspiration and thinking about what you want to do and then all of a sudden a deadline comes around and reality sets in.”
What Do You Got?
For years, it has been Kurt Vile’s wish to have his own home studio. In 2021 this wish finally became a reality – including a really productive summer as he remembers this time, but he was also facing challenges as he reveals: “I had been thinking about getting my own studio and being excited about it for so long and then the moment finally arrived and it was also hard because I felt like we were just jamming and I couldn’t let my brain relax and turn it all into an actual song. I wasn’t comfortable anymore. People just showed up and were like – oh Kurt, now it’s on you, what do you got?”
(watch my moves), all you deadlines
After a period of adjustment, the new songs finally took shape – among them the single Mount Airy Hill (Way Gone). A song that Kurt Vile is most proud of while speaking about his latest album and which actually includes the line (watch my moves) that later became the album title. Finally having fully settled into his home studio, Vile reflects upon working there:
“The biggest achievement is that I do feel comfortable working in my own space now and now that there is no deadline I can just learn at my leisure which is the nice part. I realized I love my studio the most once I turn the record in because you can go down there and work, but you don’t have to get something done. Now I’m finally sort of on a natural rhythm. A deadline is very inspiring on the other hand. Ideally. Not every time though.”
Much More To Come
Kurt Vile definitely knows a thing or two about making the deadline with (watch my moves) being his ninth studio album to date. The first on his new label home Verve Records – it hardly gets anymore prestigious than that. The thought of is own musical legacy, however, is something Kurt Vile humbly acknowledges while hinting there is much more to come:
“I’m proud of all my old music and I’m excited to keep making new music. I like the thought of looking backwards and looking forward – the idea of sitting in my chair, but flying in outer space at the same time (laughs). Those are the things I think about these days. I don’t know why.”
“I’m just a music fan. I get obsessed with different artists all the time. It’s a domino effect on my own music. Now I’m not playing anything, but at any moment I could just pick up a guitar and see what happens next.”
Kurt Vile’s new album (watch my moves) is out now on Virgin Music (Universal Music).