Mount Eerie’s Phil Elverum recently participated in a Reddit AMA session. Before the session even got underway he addressed some people who were discussing his reticence at signing autographs by posting the full text of a pamphlet he has occasionally handed out at shows when asked to sign things explaining his reasoning for not wanting to do so.
It’s as poetic and self-reflective as pretty much anything Elverum writes. He recounts one of his first formative autograph experiences, when his friends asked Beat Happening’s Bret Lunsford for one, and why it made him feel uncomfortable. Then he goes into talking about the power imbalance that comes with being an artist and meeting fans, the embarrassment he feels at being placed on a pedestal, and the gratitude he feels towards the people who choose to be fans of his music.
Here’s a small excerpt from the beginning of the pamphlet, which is called “On Autographing or Why I’m So Sorry But Please No I’d Very Much Rather Not Sign Your Record Sorry Please”:
When I get asked “can you please sign this?” a complex chain of emotions and thoughts is triggered in me, every time. On the spot, in that moment, it is too much to try to get into these complexities with the asker, usually a sweet and embarrassed fan who has just purchased a record from me at the merchandise table at my concert. So instead of attempting to talk about it with that person, in the past I have just swallowed my words and discomfort and written “PHIL” or “PHIL ELVERUM”, sometimes adding the date. With the pamphlet you are holding I hope to release myself from this position and communicate my thoughts on the situation with enough depth to release both of us, the asker and the prospective signer, from guilt, confusion, or misperception.
You can and should read the full text here.
Mount Eerie’s latest album, Now Only, is out 3/16 via P.W. Elverum & Son.