My name is Jeffrey Lewis and I guess I’m a musician although I don’t really consider myself much of a musician, I make comic books and I make songs and I make these things I call low budget videos that combine the comics and the songs. I just figured I would just grow up to draw comic books but somehow I am making my living as a performer. I’m guess I’m a performer, no that doesn’t sound so good. I don’t know: I’m something.
I always just grew up just drawing and making comic books and when I got out of college I started messing around and just making some songs and playing open mics and things just kind of snowballed somewhat expectantly but nobody pays you for sitting at home writing songs or just like sitting at my desk drawing comic books, it’s all just sort of figuring out a way to bring it out to people and touring has been a really good way for that.
I mean certainly showing art at the live performances originally came out of playing venues that were small enough for people to actually see the artwork. So this is the newest one, this is the history of communism in North Korea and obviously for a venue at a certain size that’s fine to hold this up and flip through the pages but for any place that’s above like say three hundred capacity I’ve sort of got the projection going large behind me.
I definitely didn’t want to get so insular to be like an indie rock about indie rock kind of act, so doing the history of communism piece has also been a way to break out of that and be like okay, I can apply all of these same sort of research techniques and present the idea of learning about something and then presenting it to an audience, but about something that is just sort of wider social importance. And history is just an amazing topic because there is so much of it, you don’t even have to come up with your own stories. It’s like there is so many incredible things that have happened, that’s just been an amazing thing to incorporate into the comics and into the songs.
I think also the process of making an album nowadays, we have so many options of editing things and it’s just sort of like a painting that never ends, like you can always add more or take away more or cover this part up so a big part of the creative process is just figuring out when it’s done and just deciding when to walk away from it and that’s something that is applicable to visual and to music.
A lot of them are very narrative based like I never felt like my style as an illustrator or especially my style as a singer and a musician it’s very basic and I always felt like there had to be a strong sense of content, that what I was presenting actually meant something, and a lot of times that takes the form of some kind of narrative that has a beginning, a middle and an end. A lot of the ideas just begin as little notes jotted in the back of my sketch book and sometimes they’ll turn into comics and sometimes they’ll turn into songs. Sometimes you develop something in one medium as a song and then realise it’s not necessarily the best song but in illustrative form it might take on a life of its own in a different way or some of the low budget videos that I make that were just songs that I performed and didn’t feel like they were my best material but then with illustrations added to it, they’ve just become I think some of my best stuff.