The Strokes and Voidz frontman Julian Casablancas recently gave an interview to Billboard to commemorate the 10th anniversary of his solo album, Phrazes for the Young. The conversation touched on a number of topics, ranging from the predictable—the songs he thinks hold up from Phrazes, for example—to the more outlandish, like child slavery and the end of capitalism leading to a resurgence in the use of vinyl.
After talking about the recording and songwriting process for Phrazes and what he thinks about its songs a decade later (“Glass” still works for him, but “ “Out of the Blue” and “11th Dimension” have “issues”), Casablancas shared his thoughts on the streaming economy and its platforms. Unsurprisingly, he is not a fan.
“I don’t use Spotify,” he told Billboard. “I think all those streaming services are… I don’t like them. They’re the new MTV, the new gatekeepers, so labels make deals with them to basically… they’re all just ripping everyone off.”
“You can have your online existence, but trying to suck on Spotify’s sweet sweetness is just a waste of time for me,” he added.
Later, Casablancas said the best place to hear new music is on the radio, but mostly from stations on the lower end of the dial (“[I] generally stay below 92.”).
“There’s still DJs playing cool things,” he said. “Everyone I know who’s listening to Spotify or Apple Music doesn’t discover anything interesting. When I ask them to pull up a cool song, they don’t even have one.”
Things really took a turn for the strange, though, when he was asked about what “cool” future trends he predicts, and he launched into a rant that implied that increased vinyl usage would be one potential upside from the world-destroying effects of capitalism. From Billboard:
Basically the only value we have in society right now is making money. You can have that value, but there’s also other important values. It shouldn’t just be to make money at any cost. [We should] not harm others. [I’d prefer] if there were cultural values of quality and doing things that are good for people that make life enjoyable… [For example,] vinyl is that in a certain sense. It’s not financially the easiest, it’s a pain in the ass, and it’s not necessary, but people like it; the art of it. The whole process. Those things will always live on. If eventually that cool living standard becomes franchised, that might be a good thing. That might be in 400 years. I have no idea. It might be tomorrow. Might be happening already. Eventually when [capitalism] wrecks enough of the world and society, then there might be the shift. That would be a positive trend direction.
He expounded on that concept of “quality” later, using an analogy about children in a foreign country working 14 hours a day to make inexpensive cups instead of a local designer making “cool cups” for $7 a pop.
“If theoretically, in society, we valued not having slave children make your cups, and an aesthetically-pleasing cup would have more of an advantage, then what would society look like?” he said. “I’m trying not to say anything where someone would just say I’m a communist, but… If you’re making cups yourself and you’re doing it for the community, someone doing that should have an advantage over someone who’s hiring slave children to make the cups. But right now it’s the opposite.”
For more on Casablancas’ thoughts about Phrazes for the Young and society in general, check out the full interview at Billboard.