Most of 'All Hail West Texas' was written during orientation at a new job I had. I had basically worked this job before, I knew this stuff, so I was writing lyrics in the margins of all the Xeroxed material.
Life is entirely unthinkable without any of the creative arts, and they're all a continuum - the force in question is creativity, not its mode of expression.
I always assumed people wanted to hear me tell stories, but then I had 'The Sunset Tree.' It turned out, my own stories were the ones that registered with people the hardest.
I think 'The Sunset Tree' is really the album on which I really learned to trust other musicians, which is so important.
I am permanently a student of people who make great songs, but besides sort of learning by absorption, I just love listening to music, hearing what's going on, hearing new things or new old things.
Most of my interests in terms of writing are dark, so it's discordant how much I try to lock into the vibe of wherever I'm at. Inhabiting the life of the imagination is the nature of survival strategy - you build yourself little worlds to enjoy.
You always feel like your 18-year-old self in some sense. And that's what walking through New York on a June evening feels like - you feel like it's Friday, and you're 17 years old.
Something I've learned being in this industry for so long is that if you want to work with somebody, call them up. Very few musicians have any illusions about genre boundaries. They are useful descriptive terms, but they don't really bind musicians.
Adulthood is interesting to adults. But I would never want to write about stuff I don't feel everybody can connect to.
One or two people have named their children after characters in my songs. That's pretty intense.
A band's first album's usually not great. When you made the first album, you had a day job and you were still trying to be serious about it.
A book is a journey: It's a thing you agree to go on with somebody, and I think every reader's experience of a book is going to be different.
A Cat Stevens record isn't just Cat Stevens' ideas. It's Cat Stevens and all the musicians who play with Cat Stevens, right?
As an idea occurs to me, I'll either follow it or not, but I'm more instinctive than master-planner about stuff.
At 23, you can completely, literally reinvent yourself if you want to.
Back in the '90s, if you did mail order in music, you could make a good living doing it if you could hustle.
For me, moving is always a big opportunity. It's just a enough of a shift in outlook that every time I move, it seems to open something up.
I always worry that I'm a dilettante: I know something about lots of things but don't have exhaustive knowledge of much.
I don't have a favorite drink. I don't do favorites of anything, practically.
I don't sit down and say I'm going to write a song about this or that. They are never mapped out.