In Mike Powell's SPIN review of Lysandre, the solo debut of Christopher Owens, he identifies the former Girls singer as "a proud reader of books." Indeed, the San Francisco-based artist often uses his Twitter feed to share tidbits from his literary pursuits, and from December 19 to December 27, the guy's feed was overrun with factoids from an unspecified book on Chairman Mao Zedong. In a fresh interview with Purevolume — in which he also discusses his new "romantic outlook" — Owens explains his obsession with the revolutionary Chinese communist.
"I was just kind of surprised how interesting [Mao] was when he was younger. I liked him all of a sudden," he says. "He really is just a bit of a hipster. He just wanted to hang around with other guys who were smart. There was a lot of revolution going on around him, so it wasn’t exactly a novel concept. He was just being edgy and smart and informed. He was pretty much an idealistic freedom fighter. Before that, he was just a student. In my mind I figured he was somebody I would want to hang around with when he was a teenager. He didn’t do anything evil until he was much older. He got a little crazy."
Mao, of course, is known as the Father of the Chinese Revolution and continues to be a hugely controversial figure long after his death. He is known for transforming China from an impoverished agrarian society into an industrially equipped world power with emphasis on improving education and overall quality of life for his people. On the other hand, his violent suppression of in-country opponents and the risks that he took under the guise of betterment made him a monster in the eyes of many, having caused the deaths of millions via executions and starvation. So, totally Williamsburg.
In his interview with PureVolume, Owens also talks about the fact that he's tired of talking about the fact that he ended Girls, and that his new album's title comes from the name of a girl who he loved but eventually lost. Lysandre is currently streaming over at the New York Times.