OK Go string  Credit -  Zen Sekizawa

Maranda Pleasant: What does your creative process look like?

Damian Kulash: It’s play. A lot of things get made this way: someone imagines what they want to make, then very carefully plans every step of the process, then sets about making it. That’s usually the efficient, reasonable way to get something done, but it limits you to ideas you can think of in advance.

For me, it works best to plan just enough to come up with a good direction to head out in. Then I start down the path as soon as I can, without a very clear idea of what exactly I’m going to end up with. I try to leave a lot of time for flexibility and play and changing direction. My best ideas almost always come from winding up in unexpected places and stumbling across things I never could have imagined in advance.

MP: What inspires you?

DK: Smart people and people with good hearts. Good communicators. David Foster Wallace is a big idol of mine. His writing is so clear that for years I’d read him and think, My God, he is actually writing the way I think. He’s describing the thoughts in my head. And then I realized, No, wait. He’s just such a good writer, so transparent and articulate, that when he describes his thoughts, I think they’re my own.

MP: What does love mean to you?

DK: Trust. In the deepest way.

MP: What are you passionate about?

DK: I’m passionate about music, food, books, film, blah, blah. The same things everyone is passionate about, no? Love, sex, connection. Peace. Not f——g up our planet.

Actually, here is something I’m passionate about that, looking around me, seems like the world at large must not care about as much as I do: craft. I can’t stand things that are poorly made or shoddily conceived. I feel like I’m being insulted when something is poorly designed, poorly made. It’s like whoever made that thing didn’t respect the rest of us enough to do it well. Who is it who designed the interface to on-demand cable TV? Did they not ever try it themselves?

MP: If you could say something to everyone on the planet, what would it be?

DK: Hmmm, that’s a tough one. I can’t imagine everyone on the planet would want to hear something from me. If I thought they’d listen, I’d probably ask them to try to be nicer to each other, to try to be less scared of their differences. But honestly, if some dude I’d never heard of managed to broadcast a platitude like that to the whole globe, I’d probably just feel like I was being spammed.

MP: What makes you vulnerable?

DK: I can have fairly crippling self-criticism. It doesn’t really put me in a vulnerable state, I just get glum and intolerable, but it certainly is a vulnerability. What puts me in a vulnerable state? Beauty, wonder, surprise, mystery. Stuff like that.

MP: What causes or organizations do you support?

DK: I’m very active in pushing for net neutrality and an open Internet. There are countless other causes I support personally and privately, but I try to keep my public activism fairly focused. I think that artists and musicians can do as much harm as good for causes if they tie their names to lots of things, especially if they aren’t really doing much to meaningfully push their causes forward. If you have a lot of fans, you have a powerful soapbox, but you still have to have something to say when you’re on that soapbox if you want to make a real difference.

MP: What makes you come most alive?

DK: Coffee.

MP: How can we support your upcoming work?

DK: We’ve got a new album out October 14 and tour dates all through the fall.

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PHOTO: ZEN SEKIZAWA

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