Ezra Koenig Explains What "FOTB" Means & Working With Beyonce

Ezra Koenig explains what FOTB means, what it was like working w Beyonce, new music & more in this interview with Harms.

My level of excitement is about 97% right now because sitting next to me as recording Ezra from the band Vampire Weekend. Dude it's good to see you like was a it has been many many years and my guess is that's going to be a talking point as you continue to talk about this new music that's coming it comes up. It's been a little while for you guys for sure. Let's start with an Instagram post that came from you a couple of weeks ago it had a file folder they had the initials “FOTB” on it are we prepared to say what FOTB is?

At this point Father of the Bride.

Father of the Bride very nice um. There's a lot of speculation there's a lot of guesswork on kind of what that could be anybody come close to guessing it?

I was just kind of like just not ready to tell everybody the title yet but it really turned to this thing with our fans going crazy cheering and not only did some people guess it I think like a lot did but and then they're in some people really confident that I know it's father of the bride. But then there are so many other fun guesses that it all got kind of got drowned out.

I was gonna ask that. What was the best non album title that someone guessed? Where you're like, man, maybe that should have been.

I mean there's so there's so many good ones.Okay, one that kind of blew my mind a little bit was we have on CTS bass drum that we toured with Last summer I put a frog and that's kind of part of part of the album imagery. So some people were like, is it frog on the bass drum? And I was like lifting I was like, Damn that actually makes sense. 

This batch of songs. Was it written over the span of those six years? Did you have like a burst of creativity couple of months ago. And now we have an album?

There's always on some of our albums like certain songs that have really deep roots just because like I'm always writing songs here and there and then sometimes you have a good song. So some have deep roots but really like the hardcore process of like writing and recording every day only started a few years ago so it wasn't like just like six years in the studio every day like oh my god like I you know after three albums I did other stuff and you know definitely had some weeks of just chilling out hard yeah doing absolutely nothing.It’s important I think for any artist to live their life before they kind of go in and write music that possibly reflects what that be. So to take a little breather is not too crazy. Six years is a long time but it's really right now like five and a half yeah maybe we'll get the album out before 6 years. I know it's on the long side but I'm kind of like actually I think like four to five years is like a really nice chunk of time like that to me that's the unit that you think of life in a little bit. You know like even when you're likea kid in like high school for 4 years then you go to colleges for 4 years. It's kind of like four or five years. That seems like a two is, you know, especially now two years feels like a day. 

Yeah. No, you're absolutely right. And it's not like you're coming with 10, two minutes, songs, big album, 18 songs. Are we prepared? I think an Instagram post it called it a double album. Is it a double album? 

To me, I think of it as the double album. And there's also this funny thing, like, I'm, I feel like a little bit in between generations, you know, like for, for me and the band. We're right at that generation. That was like a little bit of CD store, a lot of downloading and then streaming sort of, like, right in between, like, you know, we're kind of on the older side of millennials. So in the rain, this place where I'm like, because I'm just like such a music fan. I look back at records like Bruce Springsteen, the river Fleetwood Mac, to us, exile Main Street, and I'm just like, these are like double albums. That's it a meaningful moment when an artist makes their double album. Yeah, but then at the same time, I'm like anybody. I listen to new music and stuff. And I'm just like eight to 18 songs. That's just like a regular album. Yeah. For for some, it's even a short album for some people. So I'm kind of like, you know, I have to be a little bit like, call it what you want everything fits, though you said it's not like everything's forced together, things are not pulled from side to side. Everything kind of comes together as a co totally. I mean, and actually, I really worked hard to get it down to 18 songs because there was like a 23 song version that might have a little bit of fat. 

But I truly I truly feel like the 18 song album is kind of like perfect. And in some ways that all adds up. Like, like you said, being gone all these years. 

I just couldn't wrap my head around. I wouldn't have wanted to, like give the fans a 10 song album. Even a really good one. Yeah, and that's not what creatively it was moving towards anyway, so it all makes sense. 

Harmony Hall is the name of the first song that we're getting from the album. We've already gotten two hours of it are you lead with two hours of the guitar loop? And now we're going from there. What can you tell us about harmony hall? 

Harmony Hall was one of the songs that is deep roots, you know probably can fans might recognize a little shared DNA, lyrically with some other things I've done. And it's one of those songs that kind of started with the piano part that like Baroque part that happens in the middle. And then that part developed for a long time as always planning on piano, trying different ways to play it. And then years later I wrote the guitar riff and then finally came together and felt like a song that's just sometimes what happens that you have these ideas they're not ready to be a whole song. And then finally, the the diverse meets the chorus and then you're off to the races. 

Yeah, you have spent a bunch of time over the last couple of years again. One of those things was he helped write a song for the Beyonce record Lemonade. Did she return the favor for this album. 

Oh, you know, I didn't ask her. I should have. I've had this experience to where sometimes when you're around really famous people, you know, once somebody gave me some advice, like even if you go to some party at some really famous person's as your plus one should go introduce yourself to the host. And I was like, No, they don't want to be bothered some of that. They're just people to Sure. You know, somebody like Beyonce who's a very accomplished songwriter how often does somebody hit her up and say, Hey, you want to write ? Yeah, everybody thinks she's too busy. That's a good idea.

As a fan following on social I've seen the relationship with Seinfeld 2000. 

2000 is basically at this point my personal social media manager. Seinfeld as we call him is a very mysterious guy. He comes from Canada. He's in Japan at the moment but he he kind of started out he has a social media account called Seinfeld 2000. For people who don't know that kind of started where he was making fun of other Seinfeld accounts. This is how inside baseball This is, is that he is like a secondary Seinfeld meme account. And then he and I kind of had had like a Twitter friendship. And then I start doing a radio show and at some point he would call them then at some point, he just became part of the show and I kind of hired him for the show and then he started to become the Social Media Manager. I like having a little community of creative people whether it's musicians or producers 

Since the last time you released a record a lot has happened in this world. A lot has changed and you can take that any way you want. How much of that makes its way into the music? 

Whether or not it's a personal thing for you whether or not things happened in the globe. What it can't help but of course, but make its way in some point. But you know, it's funny. I was talking to somebody recently, they're like, yo, now this albums come out Trump era, you know, the last name for the records like Obama's second term. It's so different than I was thinking about. I was like, you know, it's crazy though. Our first album came out George Bush was president. Yeah, so obviously there's some particularly intense things happening now. But there's some nature of like politics and the world now makes you feel the personal macro. It's always played a part in the music. Also this record, it's not like I wrote it all in the past six months or anything. So, you know, it's interesting, there's probably some things that there's words I may have written for years ago that people might listen to that has a new resonance now because of something that's happening in the world but it's it's Kind of like a mix of, you know, the past four years old put together? 

So we've been waiting a long time for FOTB Right? Is there a specific date that we can say? Do we know when it's coming? 

I don't know if we pinned it. I will say like, the general plan is that we're going to keep doing these jobs have two songs every month. So roughly in three months, you know, if it become if it's two months and three, three quarters or three and a half months.

 

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