Robin Pecknold And Grizzly Bear’s Ed Droste Explain How The ‘Thinkpiece Ecosystem’ Impacts Their Art

Fleet Foxes and Grizzly Bear both emerged from the indie scene of the late 2000s, and both also put out new albums this year — Fleet Foxes’ Crack-Up and Grizzly Bear’s Painted Ruins — after having spent years away from the spotlight. Both groups have returned to a music world that’s different than it was when they were last out there promoting new material, so Interview magazine decided it would be interesting to put the two in a room together and see what sort of conversation would result.

So, Fleet Foxes’ Robin Pecknold interviewed Grizzly Bear, and the highlight of their wide-ranging discussion came when they started talking about making and releasing music in the current political and social climate — a point Pecknold previously addressed in the comments section of a Crack-Up review.

Here, Pecknold says part of the reason for the delay between Fleet Foxes albums is that he “didn’t see where I would fit in” what he calls “the thinkpiece ecosystem”:

“I’ll just say personally that part of the reason that I didn’t release an album for as long as that period was, is that I’d look at the climate of music every once in a while and I didn’t feel like there was a place that made sense [for me]. It was just my feeling about it. Either a bunch of new things were happening, or a more commercial wave of the thing I was passionate about was happening. I didn’t see where I would fit in the thinkpiece ecosystem, and so I checked out until I was at the point where I didn’t really think about any of that stuff anymore. I still thought about it, but not in the sense that it would influence my choices or my decision-making in the way it did before. So in that sense, it wasn’t really about imbuing a sense of mystery unto myself as much as it was just not wanting to engage. If you choose to make it so, it can be stressful or crazy-making.”

Grizzly Bear’s Ed Droste responded with some thoughts about how different it is for listeners to consume content now in light of the “dwindling blogosphere,” saying that the swift pace of the media and listener attention spans lessens the “desire for mystery”:

“I have a lot of similar feelings that you had, but I’m having them right now. I tuned out for a couple of years, and I didn’t pay much attention. When I got back I was like, ‘What the hell is happening?!’ A lot of what you were thinking I’m like, ‘What’s the vibe right now? What is this trend? Why is everyone reinventing themselves? Why is this Top 40 artist with this random song that’s fine being championed as the best thing ever right now?’ There is a bit of a headscratcher moment for sure. Trust me, I like Top 40, so it’s not a diss to that. It’s just, something happened while I was sleeping, and getting divorced and thinking about myself, and not paying attention to the dwindling blogosphere which doesn’t really exist anymore and is now just the noise content machine.

I find it overwhelming and confusing. It’s less about ‘Is there a place?’ but more like how do you get people who are subjected to so much noise to actually sit down and take the time with something that you’d really hope they’d take the time with? Or previously they [took the time], but they may not be doing that anymore because of the way that music is consumed or read about or disseminated. I don’t think that there is any desire for mystery, per se. But I do find the current climate a bit mysterious. Nobody has fully explained it to me other than ‘clicks.’ That’s my hot take.”

Check out the rest of the conversation here, in which they also talk about “monetizing strife,” the differences between their current and older music, and the music they’re listening to now.