The Flaming Lips’ frontman Wayne Coyne is many things: a talented musician, a mad genius and a master of the art of tweeting. And for those naysayers out there: Yes, Twitter is an art, and Coyne is a member of the Dada school.
Over the last year, Coyne and The Lips have been unveiling a vast, sprawling art project of an album, replete with YouTube video-spun songs, gummi skulls containing tunes, 6-hour song jams featuring fans’ names and, most recently, the musician told us he aims to release a 24-hour-long song encased in a human skull. Throughout it all, the artist has been tweeting like the lovable mad man that he is, keeping his fans abreast of his musical machinations.
In honor of Follow Friday (that day of Twitter days during which we tell each other who’s worth a click) and his nomination for the MTV O Music Award for Digital Genius, we chatted with Coyne about his thoughts on Twitter. For more of Coyne’s musings, we suggest giving @waynecoyne a follow. Who knows what he’ll tweet next?
1).Tweeting Is Not Texting
My main beef is that it’s like text messaging instead of Twitter [with some people]. I don’t like those tweets that are just simply us peering in on someone’s conversation.
2). Practice Doesn’t Make Perfect, But That’s OK
I think you have to try to do something every day. This would apply to people’s lives in general, even without Twitter. You try to make these absolute to-do lists in your mind, you think, ‘I have to do this every day.’ And I know why that works, because there are times when as The Flaming Lips, we assigned ourselves the idea that we have to come up with a song every day, and we would allow it that they all didn’t have to be that good. But if we come up with one every day, we’ll just force ourselves to do something different and something new. And I would say that almost every time that makes for the greatest songs you could ever write because you just keep going and going and going. You don’t really think about what you’re doing so much. And it really does reflect you.
We hate to believe that this is true, this idea that you just get up and you do it every day, because we want — especially in music and art — extraordinary things in life to be like these magic moments that just appear out of nowhere. But they don’t. Because if you think about it too much, it becomes too contrived and what you really want is for your life to be moving at such a pace that you’re really just an observer of it.
So for me, when I decided to do Twitter, I decided that I have to do at least four or five [tweets] every day. No matter what. That would be my promise to my followers. And we would just see how it went.
3). Don’t Censor Yourself Too Much
I like it when Kanye West goes on rants, misspells things and insults people and things like that, because it’s really off the top of his head and it’s not meant to be something that’s thought over and thought over for hours and hours. It’s a real spontaneous thing. And so I try to present [my Twitter] in the same way. I don’t always Google sh*t to make sure I’m spelling it right. Sometimes I’m tweeting it at that exact moment while I’m doing it. I think that’s kind of fun. Especially if I’m doing something that I think is particularly interesting. Last night I was at the Panda Bear show, and I was like, ‘This is great.’ So I’m tweeting as I’m talking to him backstage.
Side Note: Coyne was talking with Panda Bear about a possible collaboration.
4). Add Some Snaps
You wouldn’t look at a magazine if it didn’t have pictures. To me it’s always more fun — even if the picture doesn’t have anything to do with what you’re saying — it’s just another insight into the way that you think. I have filled up my iPhone 4 — I think it allows you like 5,000 pictures or whatever — I’ve filled it up twice since I got it. I take pictures all the time. I take a lot of video, and you can edit videos on the iPhone. So I can edit them down to where they’re just real quick little snippets.
I think it’s all about not just saying things, but presenting this little time capsule: ‘Here’s what I think. Here’s what I’m standing in front of. Here’s what I think is interesting.’
5). Get Feedback From Followers
We were about a week into making a six-hour song, and someone on Twitter said: ‘You should have a contest and have the winner’s name announced somewhere mysteriously within the song.’ And I thought that was a cool idea, and it is a six-hour song — it isn’t as if it would crowd the palate any. And a lot of the song — even a week into it — was still unknown.
6). Share Your Art
The way we’re working on our music in the past year — as I make a song, I’m letting the audience hear it as it goes, knowing that this may not be the way it sounds when we’re finished with it or this may be giving away the secrets of how we make music or stripping away the mysteries or whatever. But for us, because we’ve made a lot of records, we’ve been around a long time where people have access to a lot of information about us, I think it’s even better that we’re showing you what we do.
Also, I really do feel that I have been given a very privileged life — I have this really extraordinary life because of the fans of the Flaming Lips. So I feel — not because they demand it — I feel an obligation to share what I’m doing with my life. I don’t show people everything. You’d be amazed if I showed you everything. It would freak you out.
By Brenna Ehrlich