-//-Eric Carlson-//-

What is your art form?
As a little kid I wrote stories, that was natural to me. I was inspired by Goosebumps. I would write horror stories or little mysteries. Ever since I graduated from college I went from trying to get some kind of newspaper or magazine or online journalism job to, Well I'm not getting hired, I’m just going to keep writing, whatever I want to write. It’s sort of out of this desperate need to be understood and to understand how I see the world too. 

Do you do mostly short stories?
Lately, yeah. Four years ago I wrote a novel. It was very odd, I wrote it all in present tense and sort of stream of consciousness. I think I wanted to write something heavily indebted to the media that I grew up with.

Especially the generation I grew up in, in the suburbs; I was raised by movies, I was raised by video games. That had a huge impact on me. I think I'm still reconciling if I have a realistic interpretation of the world or if it’s so influenced by movies and video games that it’s kind of this unreal idea of interactions, situations, stories. 

Lately I've been trying to cement myself after years of looking for the recognition, toward the idea of I do this because I have to, because intrinsically it feels right to do it. Not for any kind of reward. That’s been hard. A little part of me always wanted some fame or respect.

Have you had moments that you’ve been humbled?
Yeah, totally. I think it more comes with music. Writing, the creation of it seems more simple. It’s like: I have this feeling, I have this idea I'm just going to write what I feel.

Then with music there are so many different ways you can do it and different ways you can use the equipment you have. Especially with electronic music. For years I was just an acoustic musician because I wanted simplicity. I was scared more than anything to delve into how you could change sound. There’s infinite potential in it. It’s really scary and if you’re not mentally prepared you get swallowed up in the existential dread of it.

Because if anything is possible I can’t do a single thing.

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How does it feel to you to share your art with somebody?
Years ago there was a lot of fear in it. And then I kind of went the opposite way where I would share anything. But sharing everything, nothing was sacred. I tend to create a lot stuff so nothing has a lot of meaning to it. I've probably written 2000 songs, something stupid like that. I've been trying to reconcile with why I'm creating so much material but nothing really feels important. 

Do you believe art could change the world?
It kind of has the power to draw you into a different perspective, into a totally different way of seeing things. That’s what I always wanted to be able to do with it, to show people my perspective of the world, if I could. And hopefully be able to connect people.

Does art bring you further from or closer to your fellow human?
When I really got into ambient music, all I really wanted to do was sit in my room and veg out to it and it didn’t seem to really connect. I was working serving  tables and there was no way I could connect this world, with having to be almost hyperactive, talking to people, serving tables, solving problems every second. I felt very disconnected and so I wanted to somehow connect this state of mind, this music, with the things I have to do to make money to survive. It didn’t seem I could, I still am figuring it out.

A couple of months ago most of what I was doing any night was just get really high and lay on my bed and listen to music for five or six hours. And by the end of the night it was like yeah I love this music but I don’t feel good, something is lacking. 

A human connection?
I guess, that’s my best guess about what is lacking there. Because I feel cut off. 

What do you hope you walk away with at the end of a project?
I usually don’t want to finish because I like to live in that space of creation. Trying to share and finish something more than anything makes me really sad. I realized that a lot of art goes unnoticed and is kind of just lost. I've come to terms with that, that the process is the reward.

I think maybe the role it plays in my life is understanding myself and the world through the art and then trying to live better. I haven’t read Nietzsche but my therapist decided to quote this to me, that the aim of the human being should be to make their lives a work of art. In practice what does that look like? I’ve been trying to wonder about that.

Do you have ideas? 
Not really. The best thing I can think of is trying to invoke the feeling of creating art while dealing with situations with people, jobs, money, life. I've always looked at art as this beautiful process and this beautiful thing that I can’t get enough of and then all the normal day to day stuff is like shit I have to do and shit I don’t like to do. For me that just seemed like a shitty way to live, having that separation. 

When did you first identify yourself as an artist?
I still don’t really want to. I don’t want to be full of it like I'm an artist I'm you know… I'm this creative person. A lot of labels can kind of be misleading. I wanted to do it for the sake of art not to just be an artist. Picasso said man is an artist. To live your life you have to be creative in different ways. Creativity is often just finding a solution to problems.

Maybe I believe Picasso is right in that man is meant to express himself in some way. When an athlete is doing something that is beautiful to watch that’s kind of artistic to me. That’s what we like about sports, watching somebody do something gracefully. I value that human expression. 

Do you have a relationship with your ego?    
Wanting to kill it. 

What does that look like?
I’ve always been interested in Buddhism. Because for me there’s the ego and that represents the more negative aspects of the self, and then there’s the self, what some people would call the soul. That’s the core thing that makes you alive. The way music makes me feel or the way certain art makes you feel or the people you connect with. 

When you’re attached to how you look and dress and your role in society, that’s your ego. I don’t think you get rid of your ego, I think that’s a nice fantasy. Finding a balance of: these are the things I do to survive in society and these are the things that make me feel beautiful and alive on a deeper level. It’s constantly this push and pull, I’m constantly trying to take the ego down as much as possible.

At the same time I think we all- I definitely want to be beautiful and respected. That’s part of being in society and being a social animal. 

What’s the greatest thing art has ever done for you?
Made me feel alive. I think that’s what art does it makes life a congruous whole, it gives it meaning. I've been obsessed with my childhood the last couple of years. As a kid, your vision of the world isn’t tainted, you haven’t experienced a lot of things that you experience as an adult. Especially growing up in the suburbs, it was a bubble.

Going to college was like holy shit what’s all this? There’s this whole world out there? There’s war? Being able to get in touch with the darkness too.

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What’s the worst thing that art has done for you?
I think it’s made me selfish and disconnected. Instead of confronting the world, hiding from it in the art. Here’s this beautiful world that I can inhabit with art and I don’t want any part of the rest of it, fuck that. 

Even though I haven’t had much success sometimes there is that elitist asshole that lives inside of you. You listen to someone’s art and you’re like I could do better. That sucks.

There are a lot of those feelings that come into my head and I try to fight them. But obviously they’re there. I think that’s the worst part, it makes me feel shitty. 

Do you have anxiety around completing something?
I definitely have anxiety. It’s always that question of should I put more work into this or is this the finished product? It’s kind of an existential question, to me, the meaning that you impose on the world is its meaning. Knowing when to finish an artistic project, or even finishing it at all- there’s a lot of anxiety surrounding that. It comes back to wanting respect, wanting that shared vision of the world with other people. It seems like it always comes back to wanting to connect. Regardless of how much I isolate I still want to connect. 

How do you define success?
I want to be respected and involved. Another part of me wants to be filthy rich. That’s a small part of me. It’s stupid but who doesn’t want to be on top just to at least taste what it’s like. Part of me wants to experience everything that the world has to offer. That’s a super megalomaniac version. I think what I desire most is respect.

It comes back to being involved. I just want to feel like I'm connecting to people that I really admire and find inspiration from and that they’re connected and inspired by me, and we kind of create this community. I think I'd like to have that more than anything. That’s really our mission on earth is to connect and be together, being alive every day. It’s not being filthy rich.

How’s the health of your imagination?
Good. I'd say sometimes my imagination actually gets out of control. That actually led to some really bad feelings. So it’s actually keeping it in check that’s my biggest task. I went through a period where fantasy would overtake me where I couldn’t actually do anything specific. Cause I was so lost in the imagination of what things could be like… So you’re in a park you know. This park overlooks the city, there are people around and your plan is to go walk to the bus and you’re going to take the bus to the art museum before it closes. You have plenty of time.

But three hours later you never left that park. And you never left that park because each person that surrounds you is another situation, is another hypothetical fantasy world that you inhabit.

So when it comes to making a decision, by leaving that park you’re leaving all of these possibilities. It’s the threat and the wonder of possibility in every moment. That was a big issue.

It seems like your imagination generally creates positive scenarios.
Right, but so much so that day to day life is disappointing. So it’s excruciating just to do anything. It’s been like how can I use my imagination to do positive things instead of constantly having these ideas that you never can act on because they are complete fantasy projections. So….it can be kind of excruciating. I think a lot of that comes back to being raised by movies.

That’s what I always wanted, I wanted the action packed life I wanted to travel and have the craziest experiences.

I’ve been traveling before where I wasn’t able to do anything, because I couldn’t do everything. The infinite possibilities. Having too many choices makes you unhappy.

How do you make choices? I mean literally, in a day what do you prioritize?
It’s a constant struggle. For awhile it felt like an existential crises everyday. I mean I could do anything. And instead you know I just maybe do the things that are habits. It’s not bad things, just things I do naturally.

But there is always that existential dread of I could be making the choices that turn me into the person I want to be and what are those choices. I could be anyone. I could be any person. So it’s hard. I'm still working that out. I'm trying to make better choices, or make choices that are in-line with what I really want to do. Connect, be involved, meet interesting people.

So. Yeah. I think a lot of things like art can be vague and you never know when you’re going to meet somebody that could be important. Instead of imagining it’s going to happen everyday you know, being receptive when it does happen. 

-Eric Carlson