DFA-aligned artist on his literary tastes...
Larry Gus

Larry Gus is simply one of a kind.

A deeply literate artist, the songwriter's latest endeavour - 'I Need New Eyes' - is a mis-quote from Proust. The follow on from 2013's intriguing full length 'Years Not Living', it finds the Athens-based artist matching funky breaks to orchestral stabs, extravagant arrangements and deeply personal insecurity.

Out now, Larry Gus is set to play Rough Trade East tonight (October 13th) at 7pm. Clash decided to catch up with the DFA Records aligned artist to uncover the contents of his bookshelf.

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What is your favourite book and why?
Well, truth is that life, A User's Manual by Georges Perec (Greek translation by Achilleas Kyriakidis) literally changed my life, it made me re-evaluate who I am and what I stand for, it made me look more around me, it made me pay even more attention to detail, it made me love my wife more, it just made everything clear. I don't know, I really love this book, I mean, everything would have been different without it, but also, I don't think that anything can even come close to Ficciones by Jorge Luis Borges (Greek translation again by Achilleas Kyriakidis, I love ALL his translations). Perec for me felt like an actual push into the new world, but Borges always felt like a jump straight into the unknown, a whole new universe of new feelings that I never thought I would have the chance to experience.

What other authors do you like?
David Foster Wallace, Primo Levi, WG Sebald, Italo Calvino, GK Chesterton, Milorad Pavic, JG Ballard, Thomas Bernhard, Achilleas Kyriakidis, Thomas Pynchon, Raymond Queneau, Herman Melville, Gustave Flaubert, Tasos Leivaditis, Franz Kafka, Raymond Chandler, Nikos Kavvadias.

What draws you to certain books?
Normally I just buy on impulse, so I have the chance to read something that fits my mood, depending on the day. That mood always changes the moment I finish a certain book. Sometimes I want to read a story, other times I want to read a book that is different (and/or weird), other months I spend my time reading non-fiction etc etc. Also, I really love collected interviews with authors, because it always gives me a great insight into their process.

Have you ever discovered a real lost classic? What is it and why?
My wife is really great at that, but in general, I don't think that I would ever be lucky enough to find a lost classic that hasn't been discovered by someone else before me. It just fits in the overall pattern of my cultural consumption activities.

Do your literary influences have a direct impact on your songwriting?
I can definitely say that nothing influences me more than books and literature, and I always try to apply literary techniques on my compositional methods. I made my previous album by trying to emulate the constraints that Georges Perec used for life, and I definitely failed, which in a way puts me perfectly in the fictional universe of the book.

What are you reading at the moment?
I am in the middle of my WG Sebald phase, where I picked up all his "novels", and I read them chronologically. Vertigo, Emigrants, The Rings of Saturn, Austerlitz. I am in the middle of Austerlitz right now. I never thought that such a writer would exist, it feels like he was the combination of all the things that I ever loved. Nostalgic, insightful, poetic, solitary. It gives and gives, and it leaves me speechless.

What is the first book you remember reading as a child?
Animal Farm. It was a weird experience, I started reading it because somebody told me that the song piggies on the white album was about this book. I think I was 11 or 12. The truth is, I only started reading more meticulously when I was much older, around my 20s. Up until that point I was mostly reading music magazines, and even right now, I have some friends that had read all Dostoevsky by the time they were 17, and I am thinking "What the fuck was I doing with my life? why did I waste all those teen years reading fucking NME and Select and MOJO instead of reading a proper book". It can be really intimidating, my biggest fear regarding death, is that all those books will remain unread.

Did you make good use of your library card as a child / teenager?
A little bit later for me (see above), but I really used it a lot. In my home town (Veria) the library was equipped with lots and lots of books, and I spent most of my summer binging on specific authors.

Have you ever found a book that you simply couldn't finish?
I am thinking of not finishing Murakami's 1Q84, mostly because I feel that the peak of the book came a bit early, and from that point onward, I wasn't excited any more. I also haven't finished 2666 by Roberto Bolaño, but that was very different, I was really feeling that all darkness was extracted out of me while reading it, and it was also taking a big part of me with it. I was afraid, I was literally in fear. I am waiting for the right time to open it again.

Do you read book reviews?
Of course I do. It's the same with music reviews. Sometimes I like the reviews even more than the book itself (or the album), because I really enjoy the perceptive gap between the book, the writer and me. He/she read something, which then gets translated/transcribed on a page in a weird way, and then I get the craziest ideas out of it.

Would you ever re-read the same book?
I've read numerous times Calvino's The Invisible Cities and Perec's Species of Spaces.

Have you ever identified with a character in a book? Which one and why?
In a way, I have based the whole premise of my existence as a musician on Borges' Pierre Menard, which still to this day remains the single most inspiring and heartbreaking thing ever put on paper. The listener is the composer is the critic, and the translator is the reader is the author. Also, I could easily imagine myself living the life of the average Murakami male character: solitary days, repeated weekly and daily patterns, isolation, alienation, lots of records; looks and sounds like the perfect way of living, minus of course all double identities and metaphysical activities.

Do you read one book at a time or more than one?
I can't read two fiction books at the same time, but I can often read a novel and a book of essays, or a history book, or an architecture/art book. But if I really enjoy a novel, I cannot move without holding it in my hands.

Is there an author / poet you would like to collaborate with?
Achilleas Kyriakidis.

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'I Need New Eyes' out now.

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