Damien Jurado Makes a Record He Likes

The local songwriter is no longer writing for the critics.

This is an excerpt from Jurado's conversation with music editor Chris Kornelis and KIRO's Josh Kerns, co-hosts of KIRO 97.3's Seattle Sounds, which airs Sundays at 3 p.m.

I literally spent, I think, the good portion of my career making records I didn't like. It wasn't until I made [2010's] Saint Bartlett that I enjoyed my studio experience.

I think for years I've been put [in]—I'm guilty of this as well—sort of the singer/songwriter folky box. Being alongside other people who I love and admire—people like Bill Oldham, Mark Kozelek—they're great songwriters, but it's nothing that I listen to. I got in this long discussion with [producer] Richard [Swift], and he was like, 'Why are you making records you don't want to make? There's no need to just, like, be in this box and pretend to be someone you're not.'

I'm not saying every one of my albums wasn't genuine, 'cause they were—those songs all came from a real heartfelt place. It wasn't really me. I wasn't making the records I wanted to make. We dabbled in that with Saint Bartlett, and then we definitely did that with Maraqopa.

I think I spent years trying to craft records that fit into a certain genre that would—I hate to admit this—that would get me good reviews in songwriter magazines, that would put me alongside these other artists I wasn't listening to. That was a purposeful and conscious decision that I did. I think it worked, and then I think a lot of the times it didn't work.

I think I took Richard's advice: Make records I want to make. Include part of the influences I grew up with, and incorporate those into what I like, that's what I did.


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