Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Interview with Dan and Cam

Here's an excerpt from my interview with Dan and Cam, two roommates at Brown University. More to come...

Will: Something that you guys have been talking about a lot is the idea of Tyler’s personas. How do you think those multiple personas are related to reality? Do you see these personas as charicatures, or as exaggerated perceptions of reality? My basic question is – how do you guys listen to Tyler’s personas?
C: Dude, I see Tron Cat as like - this is obviously the very violent like murderous disturbing persona. I see it kind of like a horror film, um like visually, but I also kind of see it as his sick thoughts and imaginations that he just doesn’t really express out loud, but he just sits and thinks to himself but this is an embodiment of all of those thoughts culminating into one being and one persona in the song. Do you know what I’m saying?
D: Yeah, I think that one of the most indicative personas, or one that cuts to the heart of the question is his role as the psychologist. And I think that one of the things he’s doing, or one of the things I think he’s doing, is kind of exploring these aspects of the mind that are usually repressed and not talked about socially. And he got interested – you know, I’ve read interviews where Tyler says, “I got interested in the minds of killers and criminals and what’s going on in their heads, and like, what is their mental process?" And I think that he explores that through some personas like Tron Cat. And so, maybe that’s me really trying to put a positive spin on some pretty negative lyrics.
C: I feel like along with the psychologist persona is the really vulnerable Tyler sitting in a chair talking back to this doctor, and he always just spills his emotions, and sometimes will feel more, not dark, but sad. You know?
Will: And how do you guys feel like you connect to these songs that represent very dark sides of Tyler’s personality?
C: I feel like it’s kind of like, to some extent, I mean I obviously don’t think like that on a regular basis, but it’s just like, the fact that he can construct such well lyrically put together song with really creative metaphors about really disturbing and crazy shit just makes me want to root for his dark persona. Like, if it were a horror movie and I were watching all the lyrics happen, I would probably cheer for that guy.
D: Yeah, I think you just touched on the two things that I really identify with. Obviously, I don’t have the same kind of thoughts as Tyler in his Tron Cat persona. But there are times where I think things that are not quite socially acceptable. You know, there are dark sides to my personality too that I think I can not necessarily identify with, but that I can see some kind of sympathetic, um. And I respect Tyler for not only not repressing that side but letting it flourish. And I think the lyricism and the metaphors, the song construction, I can appreciate as separate from the lyrical content. I find that really compelling.

Will: So turning to songs like “Radicals,” where the chorus is “Kill People, Burn Shit, Fuck School,” do you see that as an ironic statement or as an exaggeration of the everyman’s dark desires?
C: I thought about this a lot over the summer when I was listening to “Goblin” in the car, because I listened to it a lot over the summer. I think it’s very much an exaggeration for his rebellion against typically accepted societal norms. Do you know what I’m saying? Like, obviously he doesn’t want you to kill people and drop out of school and burn shit, it’s more about going against the grain and not doing necessarily what society wants you to do. I feel like he’s just saying, “do whatever the fuck you want. Be whoever you want to be.” Like, I’m a table, I’m a unicorn, if I say I want to be a table or a unicorn you can’t tell me I’m not a unicorn.
D: Yeah, I’d agree. I think it’s exaggeration for effect. But you know, there are other songs where the ironic component might be a better explanation.


  1. I find the topic of irony and Odd Future interesting, because there are obviously graphic lyrics about rape and murder that are supposed to be transgressive and shocking, yet Tyler rejects labels like "shock rap" and "horrorcore" and tells people to "listen deeper to the music" in one of his songs. This kind of self-consciousness suggests an ironic component to the lyrics, and I think that many Odd Future fans would recognize a parodic or tongue-in-cheek element to their music. On the other hand, the genuine rebellion of "kill people, fuck school" also resonates with kids on an emotional level, so I don't think it's black and white, ironic or not ironic.

  2. This is a really fascinating interview. It seems like Odd Future's lyrics are not interpreted as literal suggestions or messages, but seem to allow listeners to explore the darker side of the human psyche without repercussions. I think this also sheds light on how irony plays into lyrical interpretation. Irony seems to protect from the possibility of actually identifying with the violence and brutality in these songs. It adds a level of separation between the listener and the content. With this level of protection, fans can freely explore the minds of serial killers and rapists without the fear that they really buy into these more perverted aspects of the human psyche.