In an interview with Rolling Stone, Paste Quarterly-covering artist Father John Misty (aka Josh Tillman) opened up about, among other things, his ongoing relationship with Sub Pop Records, promising to stay indie, even when that means turning down an offer from Netflix’s Stranger Things. He said:
I talked to every major label under the sun. They do this Jedi mind trick: “It’s time to go to the next level.” I’ve seen smart, principled people try, but it never works out. But as long as they say, “It’s time to go to the next level,” then you will forget all that. There are many other things I’ve said no to. I was asked to audition for the second season of Stranger Things. I didn’t want that level of exposure. I don’t want to be TV famous.
This, of course, is not the first occasion on which Tillman has expressed his disinterest in selling out. Back in 2016, Tillman said that he turned down an offer to sing “I Want It That Way” by the Backstreet Boys for a Chipotle ad, famously saying “I don’t want your fucking burrito money.”
In the aforementioned interview, Tillman also opened up about his use of LSD, and went on to extensively voice his concerns about the music industry. Tillman explained his understanding of how major record companies treat female artists thusly:
There’s just so little dignity. I know half a dozen women in the industry, and it does treat them like human cattle. Around the Nineties, the industry decided it didn’t want to work with artists anymore because they’re a pain in the ass. They realized, “We just need people with dreams of being a pop star. Not people who work to make music – people who submit to anything it takes.” This hilariously incoherent idea that feminism is the byproduct of that world drives me insane.
Also, a lot of them tell me that they look at my experience in the indie world and they go, “God, I would give anything to be able to do that, to have the freedom you have.”
Tillman, indeed, expressed extensive cynicism towards both contemporary feminist and conservative voices. In response to the comparison between his new album and Neil Young, Tillman joked:
I think someone should start a website where they do modern-day music writing—the intersectional-virtue-warrior style of music writing—about old albums. With On the Beach it would be, “Oh, great. Another white man singing about how tough it is to be white.”
Check out Paste Quarterly Issue One’s Father John Misty cover story by our own Bonnie Stiernberg here, watch his recent SNL performance here and listen to Paste Cloud audio of “Hollywood Forever Sings” and others below.