The Bedroom Interview: Duncan Sheik

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The Bedroom Interview with Duncan Sheik

Duncan Sheik is a player. If he’s not playing his grand piano, he’s picking up any one of several guitars or wooden instruments that spill out of his in-home recording studio and onto the floor around his four-poster Ralph Lauren bed. He’s also got a second double bed, a stash of grooming products in his bathroom, a predictably empty fridge and two albums (Duncan Sheik, Humming) with the kinds of songs that make seventeen-year-old girls’ eyes go misty (even the brainy ones). Then again, he’s got clean hair and a clean kitchen. He worries about getting in trouble. And he keeps a picture of his mom on his bookshelf. Maybe he’s just a good boy after all. &#151 Lorelei Sharkey

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Where do you spend more time, hour for hour — your bed or your studio?

It’s pretty close . . . probably my bed.

I like it. Where’d you get it?

My mom gave it to me. Actually, it’s a little too rococo for my taste.

I read you were in an ’80s cover band when you were twelve years old. When you were a kid, did you ever get up on the bed in your underwear and sing into a hairbrush?

Yeah, I suppose I was always sitting in my bedroom playing guitar, imagining I was David Gilmore or Eddie Van Halen. I don’t know if I was necessarily in my underwear.

You’ve described your music as the kind of thing you might put on late at night with the lights turned down. What do you listen to late at night with the lights down?

Mark Hollis, David Sylvian, some Brian Eno, some Indian classical music I like a lot . . .

Sounds like seduction music.

I don’t really . . . you know what . . . Actually Massive Attack makes really good records for those purposes.

Have you ever put your own music on for those purposes?

No. But if you do the one-on-one live version of whichever song, that’s always a pretty effective approach [laughs]. I don’t want to create the wrong impression here — but I do really love playing music for one other person. Playing a show is all well and good, but for me it’s just weird to try to communicate to a thousand people at once.

What do you think the breakdown between men and women usually is at your shows?

It’s like eighty percent women at the shows.

And the other twenty percent are the boyfriends who got dragged along?

Either that or they came with their boyfriends.

Some of your fans probably think of you as a sex symbol. Is it hard to know who’s interested in you because you’re you, and who’s interested in you because of who you’ve become publicly?

You know what? [whispers] I don’t care.

Say it louder!

I don’t care! No one’s after me because of my money; there are much bigger fish than me in that department. But if someone is attracted to me because of my voice and the work I’ve done and they’ve spent time listening to my music — that’s part of who I am, so that’s great. I don’t have a problem with it.

Although you’re Buddhist now, I know you were raised as a Catholic. Did you ever get the guilts?

No, thank God. If the guilt is there, it’s buried. I was kind of a late bloomer, but let’s just say — I’m probably going to get in trouble for this — the first time I masturbated, I didn’t feel guilty at all.

Good for you!

I’m obviously not Puritan about these things. At the same time I don’t think sex should just be like having a bowl of cereal. I’m not perfect in that department. But I definitely don’t think it should never be the cause of guilt or bad feelings. It’s tricky — you need to respect it, but at the same time you don’t want to put sex up in some kind of ivory tower.

Is there a lot of sexual energy in your music?

No. When I think of music with sexual energy, I think of Lil’ Kim.

Do you play guitar in bed?

Yeah, definitely.

Do you ever fall asleep with your guitar?

Um, yeah. I’m sure it’s happened. But I’ve never leaned over and —


— kissed it or anything.

© 2000 Lorelei Sharkey and Nerve.com, Inc.