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Musk Ox - Interview

  by Carl Bookstein

published: 24 / 3 / 2013

Musk Ox - Interview


Carl Bookstein talks to former Low Anthem guitarist Daniel Lefkowitz about his new duo Futur Primitif and their debut album, 'Machineteeth'

Futur Primitif’s fine new album 'Machineteeth' explores issues of the collective soul- from the hardships of the working man to the threat of a nuclear apocalypse. Futur Primitif does this with gritty natural vocals and moody compelling melodies. A former member of the American indie-folk band the Low Anthem, Daniel Lefkowitz is the singer, songwriter and guitarist of the new project Futur Primitif. He is joined by Jared Elmore on synths, electronics and drum machine. Daniel Lefkowitz is intelligent, insightful and inspired by Dylan. With Futur Primitif, he has written songs that are thought provoking and weighty. 'Machineteeth' offers a window into our world and our very humanity. 'Machineteeth'poetically reflects on an array of issues including despair, disease and alienation in the digital age. Importantly the album speaks to these realities and issues of the day without being maudlin or depressing. Futur Primitif expresses a voice of the common man while sonically bridging musical terrain from indie folk to the ghost of the Velvet Underground. The new album is a fascinating listen and loaded with potential. Daniel Lefkowitz took the time to answer questions about Futur Primitif, 'Machineteeth' and his former band the Low Anthem. PB: 'Nuclear Shockwave', the opener for 'Machineteeth', is such a powerful song. Do you as a songwriter fear a coming nuclear apocalypse? DL: I suppose it’s a possibility but no, not really. The bomb is a symbol of how powerful man has become. The narrator, hiding in the basement beside the refrigerator, is the flip side. We wield so much power yet we are such fragile bits of flesh perched atop a melting world. PB: Regarding the title track 'Machineteeth', the narrator clearly seems to find the working world dehumanizing. Is that accurate? Is there nevertheless hope? DL: The intention was for the narrator to be fairly unbiased, and only to describe an experience. I wanted to remove commentary and let the listener fill that in. If anything the message is not that the world is dehumanizing, but just to say, “Hey! Don’t forget I’m a human!” The song is meant to remind that this big ugly world we’ve created is still made up of individuals who are each a well of experience and emotion. It is easy to criticize the “system”, but I believe that the best way forward is to find solidarity with the individual. But no, there is not hope. Just kidding. That’s the next album. Hopefully. PB: The album 'Machineteeth' is very topical. Are there other topical songwriters out there that you particularly relate to? DL: Well, Bob Dylan is an obvious one. His latest album, 'Tempest', has a fabulous thirteen minute song about the Titanic. I think that Ben Knox Miller of the Low Anthem writes some great topical songs from time to time. Simon Felice is another favorite. PB: Who all have you looked to as musical influences? DL: Bob Dylan is probably number one. I am unashamed. He’s still the best. I’m constantly amazed by his songs. Sometimes by how great they are, sometimes by how terrible. But he is fearless and that’s a beautiful thing. I have just fallen in love with Yo La Tengo. Not sure why it took me so long. Their music is so subtle and beautiful. I’ve been listening to the Beach Boys a lot as well. They are just plain awesome. “Catch a wave and you’re sitting on the top of the world!!” PB: Are you finished being a member of the Low Anthem band and if so why? DL: Let’s see. I left the Low Anthem in 2007. So it’s been about six years. We’re still good friends and have continued to collaborate. PB: What from your tenure in the Low Anthem have you brought to the musical table with Futur Primitif? DL: Self confidence. PB: How did Low Anthem come to find its particular indie-folk sound? DL: I can’t really comment on this as I do not know. They are unique people and rugged individualists and I think they played what they thought sounded good. PB: Regarding the song 'Kissinger’s Lips', what about the former American president Nixon’s Secretary of State Kissinger is speaking to you today? DL: Kissinger was probably the beginning of modern American foreign policy.He was a cold-hearted chess player. He also knew how to work the press to his advantage. He made being a diplomat sexy. He went to parties with celebrities. He distracted the media with a pretty girl on his arm. Today he’s presented as the elder statesman, universally respected in the mainstream media. I could give you an answer that sounds smart, or I could tell you the truth - which is that the title 'Kissinger’s Lips' came to me one day and I was amused and inspired. PB: What are your current touring plans for Futur Primitif? DL: We’ve got some summer plans, yet to be announced. Then in September we’ll be at End of the Road festival which I’m very excited about. I missed last year and was bummed out something awful. PB: Do you see Futur Primitif as your primary musical vehicle at this time? DL: Yes, I’ve put my heart and soul and a good bit of my bank account into it. I see this band as a revolving door. I expect it to change and shift over time as people come and go. It is a vehicle for my songs. I’m not the controlling type who has to tweak every note. I enjoy the act of collaboration and seeing how my songs can live in different worlds. PB: Thank you.

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Musk Ox - Interview

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