Kanye West and Radiohead are both, in their own way, secretive and insular musical entities. Neither one does a whole lot of interviews, and both work mostly in the shadows, coming out with new music whenever it’s ready. It’s weird to think about them ever interacting and even weirder to think that we could learn what they were talking about. But now Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien has spoken a bit about a conversation he had with West, and it’s pretty fascinating. As Pitchfork points out, in part two of a new podcast interview with Dave Okumu of the group the Invisible, O’Brien tells a bit about a night that he spent talking to West, failing to get him interested until he brought up the subject of God. Here’s the relevant bit:
I had an evening with Kanye West about four years ago in Rio at Carnival. He wasn’t really interested in me at all. Not at all. I sat there for like three hours, and I tried everything. I said, “What are you writing with?” and stuff like that. And he goes, “[mumbles].” He’s not interested. His wife’s even less interested in me. Some mutual friend put us together for the evening.
The one thing that I did, kind of… I said to him, “If you ask pretty much any British musician whether they ‘believed in God,’ I’d tell you that 99% of them would say, ‘Don’t be stupid, of course not.’ And it blew his mind. He was like, “You cannot be serious, man!” He was John McEnroe for a moment there.
For me, I guess it’s been really important. I grew up in very material Oxford, Oxford University. Everything has to be substantiated. Everything has to be proved empirically. We haven’t got the tools to measure this stuff. For me, life turned around when when I had an extraordinary — and I mean extraordinary in the proper sense of the word — spiritual experience that I still, to this day, haven’t been able to tell my dad about.
This is all the pretext to a story about O’Brien going to meet with a Brazilian healer and having an awakening. You can hear the whole conversation here (or download it at iTunes); the West story starts around the 11:50 mark.