Vampire Weekend's Next Album Is Inspired by Old-School Country, Kacey Musgraves and Kanye West
"You want your music to grow up with you. You want to age gracefully and not boringly"
Published Dec 12, 2017Vampire Weekend are continuing to tease their upcoming fourth album, and in a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, frontman Ezra Koenig has shed some more light on the band's new material.
In addition to once again confirming that former full-time member Rostam Batmanglij co-wrote some of the songs, Koenig also confirmed that the band's previous Modern Vampires of the City producer Ariel Rechtshaid is on board for LP4.
Delving into slightly less familiar territory, however, Koenig explained that his experience working with a writing team for Kanye West and collaborating with the likes of Beyoncé and Jaden Smith inspired him to finesse his songwriting approach.
"Songwriting as a concept is the single most important thing on this record," Koenig said. "To me that's the untapped frontier for Vampire Weekend; nobody wants to hear the Vampire Weekend trap album."
And while we might not be hearing heavy trap influences, there are some unexpected musical touchstones this time around. Koenig noted that seeing a Kacey Musgraves performance marked a turning point for him.
In addition her performance not being too loud ("I'm definitely becoming a cranky old man"), he particularly liked the simplicity and directness of her songwriting — a stark contrast to many of his own surrealist lyrics.
"After the show I realized there's not a ton of Vampire Weekend songs where you could listen to the first verse and immediately answer the question of who's singing and who are they singing to," he said, inspiring him to take a more "elevator pitch" approach to crafting songs.
Emphasizing the importance of simplicity on the new record, Koenig added that he's "always really had a thing for really simple forms of folk music, whether it's like Irish ballads or old-school country."
Keeping in line with traditional country tropes of heartbreak and folksy protest songs, the current political climate is providing plenty of fodder for his latest songs.
"The truth is, a lot of days I don't want to get out of bed. A lot of days I feel overwhelmed and disheartened by what's going on in the world," he said. "Of course that's going to be all over the album. But at the same time, as an artist, I feel like a lot of my greatest achievements have been forcing myself to find optimism and fun even when it didn't come easy."
"You want your music to grow up with you," he added. "You want to age gracefully and not boringly."
There's still no word yet on exactly when we can expect to hear Vampire Weekend's refined songwriting style, but for now, read the complete interview with Koenig here.