Sufjan Stevens interviews his former Marzuki bandmate Shannon Stephens on returning to music after a ten year absence, balancing family and art, and the value of music today:
It’s true that computer cheapness has allowed anyone and everyone to release their own music, which in a way is fabulous — so many people are able to bring their ideas to completion that may have previously only dreamed of it! But in a way it’s really awful, because the playing field is completely saturated. You feel like you’re shoulder-to-shoulder with other players, and you have to shout louder and make a bigger buffoon of yourself in order to be heard; and even then, people are so tired and desensitized by all the shouting and buffoonery that they may not listen carefully enough to understand the value of your work. And yet, when a work is substantive, it can literally jump out of the white noise, like color against black and white. Some of your songs are magical in that way. A song like “Casimir Pulaski Day”, which still brings me to tears, is a sanctuary, a quiet place in which to rest from such things as the bombastic schemes of the music industry. I don’t expect my new album to have a very wide reach simply because there is so much competition. But maybe it will reach people like you and me, who are worn-out from all the white noise and looking for sanctuary. That’s what I hope for. Even if that doesn’t happen, if nobody takes the time to listen, I still needed to release this album as an act of faith that my creative expression is worth bringing to fruition.