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Interviews, Music

Interview: Andrew WK talks Destroy Build Destroy, cats, and being positive

By: Josh Terzino

Andrew WK at Fun Fun Fun Fest 2015 in Austin, Texas. (Photo: Kari Terzino/Aesthetic Magazine)

Andrew WK at Fun Fun Fun Fest 2015 in Austin, Texas. (Photo: Kari Terzino/Aesthetic Magazine)

Andrew WK gave a rousing motivational lecture at Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin, Texas last weekend. And prior to motivating the masses, we spoke to the party god himself about being positive, his love of cats, and more!

You wrote a great advice column in the Village Voice last week about harnessing energy and focusing it toward something positive. How has this attitude helped shape your career and your life in general?

For my whole life as long as I can remember, not just anger but every bad feeling, trying to figure out what to do about it.

And a lot of the advice I was given was to try to eliminate those feelings in that they represented a problem with me that needed to fixed or squashed, or, what’s the right word – repressed. But I couldn’t do that, after trying several different ways.

So I tried to sublimate them, and harness them. And use them. So, if I was feeling really frustrated and angry, rather than trying to just swallow it down and [grunts] try to sort of force myself to be calm or pretend to be calm, I would go do something and use that anger as a motivation to do it. Whether it was a feeling of jealousy, competition, just pure depression, just rage in general. A lot of it was just non-specific rage at life, at the world. And often times then feeling even more angry about that rage, because what reason did I have? I had no reason at all. That was very confusing to me.

Looking around I had every privilege, and every good thing going for me in terms of family and friends and all the good things that anyone would want in life, and still I felt these quote unquote bad feelings. So I thought maybe they’re not bad feelings at all. Maybe it’s a kind of power. Like, a kind of energy. And that really helped me to think of it that way. You know, is lightning a bad thing? Sure, you think it is if it strikes you and hits you in the head. But if you can somehow harness this electrical force, you can do…what can we do with it? Look at what we’re doing with it right now? You can put it to incredible use. So it’s all about HARNESSING, not trying to squash it. Not trying to zone out.

You know, a lot of people told me to just sedate myself so that I didn’t feel that way, and that didn’t seem right at all. I mean, I tried meditating at times, and there’s things I definitely like about that. I found it very physically challenging. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to meditate before, but I would be drenched in sweat after a half hour. Completely drenched in sweat. Not moving was one of the most physically demanding things I’ve ever done. And I did feel happy, but I felt much more excited when I could do something, whether it was record a song, whether it was go lift a weight, whether it was to clean up the house, whether it was get a bunch of errands done. Something where that energy is just (animated noises) and go use it. You know, not swallow it, but ride it.

You’re writing a book, making music, art. You’ve accomplished so much in a relatively short time. 

I suppose so. I don’t feel like I work that hard, to be honest. Not compared to other people. There’s a lot of time where it seems like I’m not doing anything. I feel like there’s something beyond me, and it doesn’t have to be a disembodied mysterious force, it can just be the collective force of all kinds of people and opportunities around that draw these things out of me or present these opportunities of these things I get to do.

But that’s kind of what I’ve been operating with rather than setting specific plans or goals for myself. For a long time it’s just been wanting to be useful and wanting to be there if someone is turning to me for something.

Andrew WK at Fun Fun Fun Fest 2015 in Austin, Texas. (Photo: Kari Terzino/Aesthetic Magazine)

Andrew WK at Fun Fun Fun Fest 2015 in Austin, Texas. (Photo: Kari Terzino/Aesthetic Magazine)

One project you were involved with was a show called Destroy Build Destroy on Cartoon Network.

Thank you. Thank you for being aware of that.

I really enjoyed it and was sad when it ended. Is there any outlet like that you’d like to try in the future?

Oh, absolutely. We’ve tried and looked into other opportunities and nothing’s panned out. That was a real high point for me, for a lot of reasons. One, always had dreamed of working on a kid’s show based on the kid’s show I enjoyed growing up. Everything from Sesame Street, to Mr. Rogers, to Pee-Wee. Pee-Wee’s Playhouse to Mr. Wizard to a slightly lesser known gentleman from Canada called Mr. Dress Up. I spent most of my time watching that type of programming. Not to mention the game shows like Truth Or Dare and Funhouse.

So, to get to be a part of that tradition in a way, that children’s television tradition was a real privilege. But we did things with that format that had never been done before. They had never had kids blowing up school buses before. And that was the best thing, and unfortunately the most controversial that caused the show to be canceled despite being very successful. It had very good ratings and we had won awards. But I understood, as well, parents’ concerns.

Although at the same time I defend our choices, because I think using explosions and what would be considered violent theatrics like that for pure fun and for this creative building atmosphere is a much better use than using weapons for killing people like they’re usually designed for. We were using a bazooka,  but we were using it to have fun. Ya know? That’s like fireworks. Fireworks can of course hurt someone, or they can inspire someone with a beautiful show. So that was our goal.

Your friend Lil Bub is about to put out an album

YES!!!

Is this a line in the sand against Meow The Jewels? Are the feline wars beginning?

No. I don’t think Lil Bub would ever have any animosity against anyone or anything. She’s very advanced that way. Getting to work with her has always been an incredible experience. Very uplifting, very soft, very inspiring. And a palpable aura surrounds her that changes the feeling in the room. For the better. Even if you’re allergic to cats, which I am. I’ve never had any allergic symptoms to her. If that’s not magic, I don’t know what is.

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