Sufjan Stevens’ A Beginners Mind: Weird movies inspired the new album

One year after melodically grappling with computer game, Sufjan Stevens is back with a brand-new album notified by hours invested enjoying motion pictures with fellow indie folk/lo-fi artist Angelo De Augustine. In a brand-new interview with GQ, Stevens and De Augustine confess that the cinematic structure of A Newbie’s Mind, launched on Sept. 24, was mainly a mishap, emerging from days invested composing tunes and nights invested enjoying whatever they might stream or gush — “highbrow, lowbrow, and everything in between,” as the duo put it in their album notes. The outcome is a record that resounds with the haunting melancholy of 2015’s Carrie & Lowell, however with lyrics like “Cenobite seized within the throes / To be released from the Pillar of Souls.” It’s quite fantastic.

How severe were Stevens and De Augustine’s seeing practices? Here’s a breakdown of the tunes and the motion pictures that motivated them:

1. “Reach Out” – Wings of Desire, (Wim Wenders, 1987)

2. “Lady Macbeth In Chains” – Everything About Eve (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1950)

3. “Back To Oz” – Go Back To Oz (Walter Murch, 1985)

4. “The Pillar Of Souls” – Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth (Anthony Hickox, 1992)

5. “You Give Death A Bad Name” – Night of the Living Dead (George A. Romero, 1968)

6. “Beginner’s Mind” – Point Break (Kathryn Bigelow, 1991)

7. “Olympus” – Clash of the Titans (Desmond Davis, 1981)

8. “Murder And Crime” – Mad Max (George Miller, 1979)

9. “(This Is) The Thing” – The Important Things (John Carpenter, 1982)

10. “It’s Your Own Body And Mind” – She’s Gotta Have It (Spike Lee, 1986)

11. “Lost In The World” – The Last Wave (Peter Dam, 1977)

12. “Fictional California” – Bring It On Again (Damon Santostefano, 2004)

13. “Cimmerian Shade” – The Silence of the Lambs (Jonathan Demme, 1991)

14. “Lacrimae” – Lacrimae rerum (Nikos Nikolaidis, 1962)

Stevens withstands the concept that A Newbie’s Mind is “about” the motion pictures; rather, he and De Augustine describe them in the GQ interview as drivers for “a new cinematic experience.”

“I think that for us to make critiques of these films and to be dead serious about it, it required that we work these little moments of comic relief into it,” he stated. “I was almost like a tempering of extremes. The songs became these weird mashups. Sometimes we would just stumble upon a phrase in a film that was so ridiculous that we wanted to somehow work it in. I think it’s not so much that we’re winking and being self-conscious about it. I think what we’re doing is almost a descriptive analysis of the language that we receive from all these pop culture sources.”

However there’s true cinéaste fandom at the heart of A Newbie’s Mind: Stevens confesses to being a huge scary man, and having dreadful taste in motion pictures. Still, someplace in the schlock of Hellraiser III, he discovered heart … and what the liner keeps in mind refer to as “an S&M dirge.” Anybody who questions Stevens’ genuine satisfaction of something as paint-by-numbers as the direct-to-DVD Bring It On follow up require aim to a speech he provided throughout a program at The Chicago Theater in 2015 (through quick-transcribing Redditor Chudaroo):

So we were enjoying Bring It On 2 on the bus recently. And its absolutely in my leading 10. And you understand the story — we’ve all seen that motion picture. There’s a faction … like the cheerleaders divided off. Theres like the loser faction, and after that the preppy winner faction and the loser faction since the preppy winner faction of cheerleaders is currently like rooting for football and basketball and all that. The other sort of deadbeat faction – they choose they’re going to cheer for croquette, table tennis, what else? Golf.

And its lovely incredible since it got me believing you understand, in spite of the sort of oddness of the context, these cheerleaders being at uncommon sporting occasions, it got me thinking about the idea of the periphery of motivation we have in our life. When we are actually young, theres like this consistent favorable support. Where you’re teaching a kid to talk and you state: “Thats good, this a ball, and you say ball, and I say ball and you say good” and after that there are smiles and affirmation. You understand in grade school your instructors are constantly providing you those sticker labels with the stars and in junior university sports theres constantly that assistant coach on the sidelines whose like, “Keep going! look alive! you’re amazing! teamwork! defense!” And after that you get to college and you have your coaches your teachers, and you compose you argumentation, consultants — fantastic at providing favorable support, reviews, feedbacks.

And after that you enter into the real life. And all those individuals leave. They’re no longer around. And it’s simply you stuck in your own sort of insular, singular, depressed mind. And it gets quite dark often. And the cheerleader within you is vindictive and self penalizing. And theres a voice thats continuously sort of batting you over the head with all sort of curs and unfavorable support. Which what I bring around a great deal of the times, its like consistent unfavorable support with whatever. Therefore I saw this motion picture recently and I resembled, that’s actually remarkable that there’s this like concept of a cheerleading team at every corner of every video game. It doesn’t matter if its table tennis or croquette — and we require that, you understand — at our tasks, at our cubicles. We require the deadbeat cheerleading team to simply pop out of no place and resemble: “look alive.”

A Newbie’s Mind is streaming now and offered on vinyl through Bandcamp.

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.