Dinner On Spirituality, Sexuality and His Cult Leader-Like Stage Presence
Posted by Isabelle 6 months ago in Interviews
There were 18.8 people in the room and he had no band, but Dinner was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen.
It might have been the way he pulled off this unblinking, poker-faced dance routine, complete with props, that looked like he was either falling in slow-mo or swimming through mud … in slow-mo. It might have been the timely unzipping of his jacket that revealed not just the faintest hint of abs, but a self-deprecating sense of humor. Or, it might have been the ceremonial sedation meditation he performed on the crowd during which, for one long minute, he controlled the rapt attention and breath of every audience member through chanting, then silence.
What’s the difference between Dinner and a cult leader radiating with divine communion? Nothing. I drank his Kool-Aid. If he’d levitated that night, I wouldn’t have surprised.
Dinner operates not just on a musical plane, but a spiritual one. With a distinct appreciation for the absurd and the holy, he incorporates elements of meditation, hypnosis and clairvoyance into his recording and performances. According to popular lore, he can “see” energy and receive psychic downloads for the universe, both which it all comes across in his devotional brand of post-punk-pop-worship.
“I try to build performances based on the same elements you use in hypnosis—not in a completely literal way, but there are definitely parallels. If it’s just me up there, I cannot be boring for one second. That’s an unforgivable sin,” he told Live Nation.
Oh. That’s why.
But, don’t get him wrong. Dinner’s brand of the divine isn’t high-falutin’.
“Dinner‘s music is about parties. And women. Late nights and early mornings in strange cities. But mainly it’s about magic and the communion with spirits,” Dinner says. “It’s like sexual Christian rock, really. But with out all the Christianity.” Of course he would speak in third person.
An even more concise definition of Dinner comes from label-mate Mac Demarco: “Great face, great body, great tunes.” High five.
Dinner just released his debut album, Psychic Lovers. It’s marked by his almost-campy post-punk wail, a la Depeche Mode, which soars atop an over-driven ’80s synth-string combo that sounds like David Lynch made out with Miami Vice. He also used to be in the Choir of Young Believers, and has written pop songs for Kid Cudi and Josh Groban, and has guided hypnosis tape under his belt. I’m also in love with him.
I tried to contact him psychically, but my third eye has astigmatism, so I had to rely on his PR person for the connection. But, a connection was made and I was able to ask him about his brand of spirituality, why he’s attracted to L.A.’s dark undercurrent of sin, how he’s able to crowd-control so expertly at his shows, and more importantly, what I have to do to date him.
Listen to this while you read:
You were one of the best live shows I’ve seen in awhile, half because of your stage presence/confidence and half because of this weird spiritual vibe you created. How did you manage to connect with the audience on such a spiritual level?
Thank you. That is a very good question to which it’s hard to give a short answer. I just wrote a piece for The Talkhouse where I explain some of my views on the ritualistic aspect of performance.
Basically, when I perform I hypnotize myself. In my experience, me being present in a trance-like state enables members of the audience to let go a little … to relax. And maybe to remember: we are all there together. We are a tribe. Evoking a spirit. Together.
How did you develop your dance moves and are you aware of the panty-soaking effect they have?
I approach dance moves the same way I do lyrics. I like there to be a naivistic element. I like there to be a repetition of something that seems banal but isn’t once it’s put on display.
I like American minimalism. I think that’s a good gateway to transcend.
I was unaware of the panty-soaking effects of this approach.
Could Dinner be the Tom Jones of indie? I’ve always wanted to be indie Sting. But I could settle for Tom Jones.
Tom Jones is an obscure, 75 year-old Welsh man, so yes. Your straight-face game is off the charts. What do you think about to keep from laughing?
Udo Kier (German actor who was in Melancholia, Nymphomaniac 1, Andy Warhol’s Dracula and also fucking Blade).
Your persona is so highly developed, and you really commit to the character you’ve created. I hate to ask this in case I’m reading you wrong, but I have to know: how much of that is the real you vs. your stage persona?
The stage-me is closer to my True Self than my everyday persona. We’re wearing masks all the time, no? When you’re having sex, for instance, you’re wearing a different mask than when you’re getting groceries. If you put on your sex-persona in Trader Joe’s people would probably look at you funny.
So, my stage-persona is closer to the root of my being than the other personas I find myself slipping into during any normal day.
I’m hopelessly in love with you. What should I do?
You’d need to impress me somehow. Isn’t that how any seduction always starts?
Can you take me to the French Riviera next week? Will you buy me beautiful clothes? I’d like to wake up in the Midi, smoke a cigarette on the balcony in my new alligator-loafers (that you just bought me) as I look thoughtfully out over the ocean …
Is that what we’re doing next week?
Yes, my darling. Right after I massage your feet with liquid gold. When did you start meditating, and what’s your method or the belief behind it?
I started 11 years ago. I was very into zen Buddhism at the time. However, I don’t practice zen meditation anymore. Now I’ve moved on … to my own brand of chaos magic-meditation.
When did you decide to incorporate it into your live performances? It has an interesting, vaguely cult-y crowd control effect. Can I buy you dinner?
I did that in Berlin at a festival the first time. I had no idea how it’d work. I can’t remember my motivation for doing it. It worked really well so I kept it up.
About you buying me dinner – we’ll obviously need to eat once we get to France, so yes, you can buy me all the meals you want. I only eat food that’s white, btw. I’m going through a Satie phase.
Does whipped cream on top of ice sound good to you? “Turn Me On” is a really good song. What turns you on?
“Turn Me On” is actually a song about not being turned on. Much the same way my song “Going Out” is about being lonely. We all get lonely sometimes, wouldn’t you agree?
You were with you ex, a visual artist, for 13 years. Did you start dating in the embyro? How did this influence your sound?
You’re flattering me. I like that. You’ve also done some serious research. I like that too.
She exposed me to the art world. And that molded my aesthetic. Look at the video for “Turn Me On,” for instance.
You used to write commercial pop songs. What was that like?
For me, that was a rather hellish experience. It was dark, dark magic. Like conjuring demons.
You’ve said L.A. has a dark, seductively evil undertone to it. In what place do you feel that energy the strongest?
The Palisades (although not technically LA, I guess).
And behind all that sunshine. There’s something … uncanny about a summer day (that isn’t really a summer day) just repeating itself again and again.
In what way do you perceive energy? Has this ability ever helped you out in a dangerous situation or lead you to make a particular life-changing decision?
That’s hard to explain. I just perceive people and places in moods, vibes, emotional colors. I don’t know to what extent this has helped me. There is a big vulnerability in this way of being. But also insights.
Have you ever personally been to the spirit world, or does it usually come to you? What does it look and feel like?
I would guess that every time any of us go into a trance (however subtle) we meet the spirit world.
Let’s have a frank and honest discussion about spiritual sexuality. How do you know you’re aligned with someone on a spiritual level?
I can only say that in my experience you just know.
Have you ever had a “psychic lover?” What does that concept mean to you?
“Psychic Lovers” can mean many things. I like to think of everyday as a chance to make love to the divine. How do we do that in our daily lives? How? It all leads back to the tantric concept of deity yoga.
I’d just like to take this time to reiterate, for the purposes of this interview, that I’m single.
Do you want to meet my Dad?
Sure. If his house is close to our hotel in Cannes I don’t see why we shouldn’t stop by for a quick coffee.