The Art of Ariel Pink

Text by Fred Miketa
Photograph by Brigitte Sire

Woody Allen once said, “Don’t knock masturbation. It’s sex with someone I love.” While differing vastly from the purposely constructed wit of Allen, Ariel Pink creates his patent blend of lo-fi art in his own masturbatory context, far from the discretion of external critical force. Often noted as a crazy person, misunderstood comedian, or unconventional pop genius, Ariel Pink has gone from hand-pressing CD-Rs for whoever was ready for his off-kilter pop, to his recent signing with Animal Collective’s Paw Tracks, to producing an artsy cult following of eager experimentalists hungry for more. While oddly intriguing and mysterious, Ariel Pink’s sound is quite simple – falling somewhere in between early ’70s pop with a strange yet consistently creepy funk feel – all while being produced on a vintage 8–track recorder, a feat that begs the question “Why?”

“Recording in a lo-fi situation is the only way to have it make sense. It’s akin to sounding old,” explains Pink. “I just kind of do stuff. I suppose where other people spend the time to learn a guitar line and really get things down, I go about it ass-backwards and start wanking off right off the bat. It’s like I’m stuck in 1995 and I’m still trying to learn my gear,” Pink says. While singer/songwriters often utilize theorized chord progressions and verse/chorus blueprints, the unaffected Pink prefers a more preliminary approach. “I create a series of mistakes on one instrument and that becomes the skeleton I must follow.” He adds, “I have to give it meat and then incorporate the mistakes into a bigger structure that eventually has to make sense.” Fueled by a unique approach to generating songs, the recording artist has recorded an array of different work over his still blossoming career.

Already having released several full-length albums under the Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti moniker, an infinite amount of underground, DIY recordings, and a host of videos that fall nothing short of compelling (see “For Kate I Wait”). Pink has also taken to collaborations of all kinds, which includes his even more experimental off-shoot Holy Shit, with fellow innovator Matt Fishbeck, producing the solo album of long-time friend John Maus, and starting up his very own Human Ear label which will act as a collective means for releasing Pink-related projects. “I’ve always wanted to play my music, have it be heard, have all the amenities of the life and all that stuff. I suppose it’s a matter of sustaining it and pulling it up. The jury’s out on us and only time will tell whether we were worth it or not.”

Although Ariel Pink’s artsy assemblage of songs with such titles as “Gettin’ High in the Morning” and “Jules Lost His Jewels” may be a bit off the archetypal experimental pop radar, it’s exactly that type of thinking that’s responsible for his authentic aesthetic. “The music itself sounds like somebody just doing a regular tune and then fucking it up at the end just to be weird. I’m frankly just trying my best, and I would go with the argument that I’m a totally, ridiculously lucky guy who got in there – and somebody thinks it’s worth it for me to be here. If anybody out there is listening who’s like me, they’ll just dig on my little fingerprint and my vibe, for better or for worse.”

And people have dug the art-school music enthusiast. Pink is about to set off on an Australian tour, having already conquered Europe, the U.S. and Japan a number of times. There’s no formula to Pink’s creation. No blueprints. No gimmicks. “The spirit of rock-and-roll music is all throughout music. It’s like possession. The devil. It’s cathartic, man. I’m not crazy because I’m able to get this shit off my chest. It warms my heart that people like my music. It’s not for everyone, it might be for some, few, or one. As long as I can create music, I’ve incorporated it into my life so much that it’s therapy for me. That’s why it is the way it is,” Pink says.


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