December 23, 2016
Nine Inch Nails’ frontman tells Apple Music that “the role of music as an important art form has suffered.”
Trent Reznor has spoken out about his attachment to vinyl in a wide-ranging interview with Zane Lowe of Apple Music’s Beats 1 radio show.
With new EP Not the Actual Events released this week and a NIN vinyl reissue series on the way, Reznor took the opportunity to explain why he felt like vinyl was still the optimum medium for both artist and listener.
“This record, we kind of feel like we’re offering it for sale, it’ll be on streaming services, it’s not exclusive anywhere,” he said. “But if you want it from us, we’re selling it as a piece of vinyl that feels like something we want you to have. I enjoy having a — it’s an experiential thing, you know, you have to touch it, you have to figure out where to put it, you know, you see it when you walk past it. It exists in the physical world.”
While vinyl is often spoken about in terms of the listener, Reznor also asserted that it was the optimum form to release music for him as an artist: “I don’t expect any or many people to follow that path, but as the artist, that’s the premium experience to me. And I expect that to be eyerolled, and that’s totally fine, you know, but I’ve begun listening to a lot more vinyl lately, because I like not being able to skip songs.”
It’s this immersive experience that Reznor highlights as the most valuable, citing repeatedly expose to full albums – in his case Talking Heads’ Remain in Light – as hugely instrumental in challenging and developing his own understanding of the music.
“I like putting it on, and I like the idea that there’s a 20-minute suite of music, and then I have to get up and turn it over, and there’s another 20-minute suite of music. And if the phone rings, or something happens, it’s not as convenient as it just goes away.
It’s something that, you know, I turned out the way I did, and the music I loved, the music that’s shaped who I am as an artist, is because I had to — I listened to it that way. I only had a few albums that I could afford, and frankly, I didn’t like some of them. You know, I didn’t like the Talking Heads’ Remain in Light when I got it. I couldn’t understand it. It scared me, you know? But I only had 30 albums, and that’s the one I invested in that month, and I listened to it. You know, and on the third listen, it started to make sense to me. You know, and on the 10th listen, I enjoyed it. You know, and on the 50th listen, it made me smarter, you know, and it changed my viewpoint. And I don’t think — when you have access to everything, that it’s so easy to say no, no, no, no, skip, skip, skip — you know, you live with that stuff.”
Speaking on a platform that has done more than anything else to further the ubiquity of digital music, Reznor even took a bit of an under-handed swipe at the Apple empire, suggesting that a “byproduct” of new technology has had the effect of damaging “the role of music as an important art form.”
It’s not the first time that Reznor has articulated the tensions been streaming and vinyl, having been closely involved with Beats 1 radio since its launch in 2015. [via Venture Beat]