My name is David Byrne. I’m a musician and sometimes an artist and other things but the visual elements of a music show I think are tremendously important. The visual sometimes tells you how to listen, whether it’s dancing or projections or lights or whatever, it brings a different kind of energy and a different kind of hints, layer of information, so for instance if a dance just suddenly does something and there’s some kind of musical equivalent at the same time, you hear the music, the sound that presumably caused the dancer to do that. And without that you might not have heard that sound, it might just have been part of the overall texture, but a movement like that draws attention it makes you hear things in a different way and vice versa so they kind of, to me they really augment one another.
Certain things you can do in certain mediums and then you can’t transfer it. You can’t just say okay that’s a good idea I’ll move it over to music, sometimes you just can’t. A few years ago, I did a series of these tree shaped diagrams, so it became a way of kind of thinking because I could start to make connections and things and imagine there’s a connection between this or this. This evolved from something that initially appears to be exactly its opposite but I also realised I could never write a song about this, it would just be completely useless. Well part of that kind of drawing thing is the fact that it reminds you of something else. It reminds you of those kind of diagrams that you have seen in textbooks and science books or in genealogic charts and so if refers to something else that only a drawing can do. When I began going to art school, so I probably had some received ideas from art school.
At that time, the art school teachers at least in the States were very much enthralled by the Bauhaus ideas and that form follows function and less is more and bla bla bla all those kind of things.
And there’s been a lot of those ideas I thought were pretty intriguing and I liked them and I would try and bring them into music in some way, some of which worked and some of which didn’t and some of which I completely have abandoned or disagreed with now but at the time I think some of the art school ideas were filtering into music and then they would filter back into more visual art stuff and they go back and forth.
I think I’ve always enjoyed working within restrictions. Too much freedom, the freedom to kind of do anything you want is, I think you end up just flopping on the ground like a fish or whatever, then you can’t make a decision. There are too many options.
It’s kind of marvellous when you can see how something works but then still be kind of transported by what it does. The real magic is that you can have both, you can know exactly how something is done and it still exerts whatever power it has on you.
I’ve nothing against galleries but I do like to sometimes show things on the street or in public and sometimes show them anonymously so that it doesn’t have my name on or it doesn’t obviously come from me and sometimes I feel that that’s important because if I want to make a political point or something like that, sometimes I feel it’s more effective to just throw the idea out there or the image out there or whatever it might be instead of saying this is what I think, you just kind of throw it out anonymously as if to say what about this.