I don’t like the idea of becoming a public figure


“I don’t like the idea of becoming a public figure. I don’t look good enough. I don’t want to mess myself up. So far I’ve managed to have one true love my whole life – my playing music. And I’m not going to jeopardize it by getting really into the celebrity part of it.”

Elliott Smith

You can get away with all kinds of more things playing live

“You can get away with all kinds of more things playing live than recording. I try and play as good as I can, but there’s bound to be some little fuck ups here and there and I don’t care about it, really. It’s different everywhere. Some places I can hear the monitors and some places I can’t. And if I can’t, then I can’t hear myself sing, so it’s like, ‘Well, it feels like the muscles in my throat are moving to that note, so I hope I’m there. It’s like a bullfight. It’s like the songs, that’s the bull, and I’m the bullfighter, and when I get done, people are like, “Olé!””
Elliott Smith

It doesn’t seem like a totally different direction to me

“Making a produced record doesn’t seem like a totally different direction to me. I record with whatever’s around, and this time there were more instruments around. I can’t get into waving a flag for lo-fi or hi-fi or whatever kind of fi. It was something to try. I wondered what it would sound like to make a bigger-sounding record.”

Elliott Smith

Other labels were interested

“Other labels were interested, but I just went with Dreamworks. There wasn’t really a bidding war. Bidding wars are kind of ugly and negative. I knew that there would be more money, that I could try and write parts for, like, a small string section, so I got really into reading books on orchestration and writing the music out without playing it first. I kinda was gearing up to have a lot more instruments on it. There was more of a budget to do things like hire a double quartet to come in for a day, or to rent an orchestral bass drum for a song, but they don’t put any pressure on me at all. I know the, uh, scary corporate ogre exists in the world, but I haven’t come across him yet at DreamWorks.”

Elliott Smith

I know there are people who send demos all over the place

old street
©Jamie Beeden

“I know there are people who send demos all over the place. To my knowledge that just is sort of essentially asking for disappointment. But I didn’t do that. And at least in my case, it didn’t require a bunch of parading around trying to sell myself. I didn’t hustle around, and things just happened in a more organic fashion. Things really impact most when people really like what they’re doing. It can be very strange and it can be unlike what’s going on at the time. But when you see someone playing music they really like, it’s compelling. Even if it’s a style you didn’t think you liked before, if you see the right person playing it, you can understand why people like it.”

Elliott Smith

Hopefully my records will sell enough


“Hopefully my records will sell enough that I can get to make another record, but I don’t care too much past that point. I don’t have a hardass stance that I’m not going to do anything which I don’t like, because everybody has to do something that doesn’t exactly appeal to them. If I had any job, there would be part of it that I would dread. So why should I be able to do what I want all the time, and not do things which I don’t like or don’t want to do?”

Elliott Smith

Britney Spears, Smash Mouth, N Sync…

©Gene Shaw

“Britney Spears, Smash Mouth, N Sync… I can’t take any of that stuff seriously. When I think about music, that kind of stuff doesn’t really occur to me. It’s not like ‘Oh, this sucks.’ It’s more like, ‘This is music for kids in junior high.’ And not even all the kids in junior high – this is music for the winners, and for the kids who think they can be popular. But then there are also all the kids who aren’t on the football team, so…it doesn’t really irritate me. It just has nothing to do with me or anyone I know. But yeah, at the moment, you’ve gotta have a sporty mentality or else you get put into the misfit category. And it’s like, ‘I’m not a misfit.’ You know what I mean?'”

Elliott Smith