David Byrne

David Byrne
David Byrne
  • Born: May 14, 1952
  • Nationality: Scottish
  • Profession: Singer, Songwriter, Musician, Record Producer, Artist, Actor, Writer, Filmmaker









Quote Topics Cited
All you needed was a couple of instruments and a few chords and you could be on an indie label.
Analysis is like a lobotomy. Who wants to have all their edges shaved off?
Artists are notoriously snooty and suspicious of anything coming from the business community. Business, Commerce & Finance
As everything becomes digitized, there's the idea that things that can't be digitized become more valuable.
Before recording technology existed, you could not separate music from its social context. Music, Chants & Rapps ;Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
Cycling can be lonely, but in a good way. It gives you a moment to breathe and think, and get away from what you're working on.
Cycling is a joy and faster than many other modes of transport, depending on the time of day. It clears the head. Time
Deep down, I know I have this intuition or instinct that a lot of creative people have, that their demons are also what make them create.
Do creative, social, and civic attitudes change depending on where we live? Yes, I think so.
Do I wear a helmet? Ugh. I do when I'm riding through a precarious part of town, meaning Midtown traffic. But when I'm riding on secure protected lanes or on the paths that run along the Hudson or through Central Park - no, I don't wear the dreaded helmet then.
Doing the box set is one of those things where you get to rewrite your own history to some extent. We could take out some of the songs that we felt weren't as strong as some of the others, so you look better. History
Domination and monopoly is the name of the game in the web marketplace.
Everything's intentional. It's just filling in the dots.
Forces that you might think are utterly unrelated to creativity can have a big impact. Technology, obviously, but environment, too. Even financial structures can affect the actual content of a song. The making of music is profoundly affected by the market. Music, Chants & Rapps ;Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
Frank Lloyd Wright... his things were beautiful but not very functional.
From what I've heard, Paris did a little bit more prep work as far as making bike lanes and all of that stuff. They really did it properly, which New York is getting to little by little. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
Having unlimited choices can paralyze you creatively.
I always think the everyday is more relevant than anything too grand because we all have to deal with it.
I am an immigrant with a Green Card and, therefore, I am not eligible to vote in a federal election.
I came to New York to be a fine artist - that was my ambition.
I can't deny that label-support gave me a leg up - though not every successful artist needs it.
I certainly agree that putting everything into little genres is counterproductive. You're not going to get too many surprises if you only focus on the stuff that fits inside the box that you know.
I couldn't take pictures of green rolling hills.
I couldn't talk to people face to face, so I got on stage and started screaming and squealing and twitching.
I cycled when I was at high school, then reconnected with bikes in New York in the late '70s. It was a good way of getting around the clubs and galleries of the Lower East Side and Soho.
I didn't have any agenda or plan when I started writing stuff.
I do seem to like to combine the dramatic emotional warmth of strings with the grooves and body business of drums and bass. Business, Commerce & Finance
I don't like begging money from producers. Money, Coins & Minting
I don't listen to the radio very much, but that could be because I don't have a car.
I don't think people are going to switch over to bikes because it's good for them or because it's politically correct. They're going to do it because it gets them from A to B faster.
I encourage people not to be passive consumers of music and of culture in general. And feeling like, yeah, you can enjoy the products of professionals, but that doesn't mean you don't have to completely give up the reins and give up every connection to music or whatever it happens to be. Music, Chants & Rapps
I find rebellion packaged by a major corporation a little hard to take seriously.
I found music to be the therapy of choice. I guess it is for a lot of people. Music, Chants & Rapps
I have trouble imagining what I could do that's beyond the practicality of what I can do.
I knew I wanted to have a doll of myself on the cover. I thought, I wanna see myself as a Ken doll.
I like to combine the dramatic emotional warmth of strings with the grooves and body business of drums and bass. Business, Commerce & Finance
I love getting out of my comfort zone. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
I meet young people who know me and are familiar with my stuff. They know the package. They might have cherry-picked five or six key tunes. That's how it seems to work. I sometimes wonder if they realise they are not getting the whole context. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
I never listen to the radio unless I rent a car.
I read the NY Times but I don't trust all of it. Trust
I remember talking with Arcade Fire after their first record, when they were getting all kinds of offers from major labels, and I don't think I gave them any advice. They survived that whole onslaught pretty well anyway without me.
I resent the implication that I'm less of a musician and a worse person for not appreciating certain works.
I ride my bike almost every day here in New York. It's getting safer to do so, but I do have to be fairly alert when riding on the streets as opposed to riding on the Hudson River bike path or similar protected lanes.
I subscribe to the myth that an artist's creativity comes from torment. Once that's fixed, what do you draw on?
I think I had a mild case of Asperger's as a younger guy, but that typically just wears off after a while.
I think I had a mild case of Asperger's as a younger guy, but that typically just wears off after a while. For some people, anyway.
I think sometimes - not always - I write songs that are accessible.
I try never to wear my own clothes, I pretend I'm someone else.
I try to devote my afternoons to making music in my home studio, but it's a lot more fun hanging out with musicians and friends, and trying subtly to influence a band than making your own stuff. Music, Chants & Rapps
I use a stream-of-consciousness approach; if you don't censor yourself, you end up with what you're most concerned about, but you haven't filtered it through your conscious mind. Then you craft it.
I wanted to be a secret agent and an astronaut, preferably at the same time. Time
I'd like to be known for more than being the guy in the big suit.
If anything, a lot of electronic music is music that no one listens to at home, hardly. It's really only to be heard when everyone's out enjoying it. Music, Chants & Rapps
I'm afraid that everything will get homogenized and be the same.
I'm afraid that reason will triumph and that the world will become a place where anyone who doesn't fit that will become unnecessary.
I'm concerned that my technical skills have advanced to the point where I can get closer to what I'm aiming for, which is not such a good thing.
I'm guarded; I don't talk much.
I'm no Lance Armstrong, but I do use a bike to get from place to place in Manhattan, a little bit of Brooklyn.
I'm not suggesting people abandon musical instruments and start playing their cars and apartments, but I do think the reign of music as a commodity made only by professionals might be winding down. Music, Chants & Rapps
I'm proud of 'Stop Making Sense,' but it's a little bit of an albatross; I can't compete with it, but I can't ignore it either.
I'm very much into making lists and breaking things apart into categories.
In a certain way, it's the sound of the words, the inflection and the way the song is sung and the way it fits the melody and the way the syllables are on the tongue that has as much of the meaning as the actual, literal words.
In retrospect, I can see I couldn't talk to people face to face, so I got on stage and started screaming and squealing and twitching about. Ha! Like, that sure made sense!
It didn't even occur to me that I'm the last person in the world who should play salsa or Brazilian music. Music, Chants & Rapps
It seems almost backwards to me that my music seems the more emotional outlet, and the art stuff seems more about ideas. Music, Chants & Rapps ;Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
It's a fundamental, social attitude that the 1% supports symphonies and operas and doesn't support Johnny learning to program hip-hop beats. When I put it like that, it sounds like, 'Well, yeah,' but you start to think, 'Why not, though?' What makes one more valuable than another? Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
It's not always been a happy marriage. I guess I wanted a quick fix. Families, Children & Parenting
I've been asking myself: 'Why put together these things - CDs, albums?' The answer I came up with is, well, sometimes it's artistically viable. It's not just a random collection of songs. Sometimes the songs have a common thread, even if it's not obvious or even conscious on the artists' part.
I've been in beautiful landscapes where one is tempted to whip out a camera and take a picture. I've learned to resist that.
I've got nothing to say most of the time. Time
I've made money, and I've been ripped off. I've had creative freedom, and I've been pressured to make hits. I have dealt with diva behavior from crazy musicians, and I have seen genius records by wonderful artists get completely ignored. I love music. I always will. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex ;Music, Chants & Rapps ;Money, Coins & Minting
I've never had writer's block.
I've noticed a lot of younger artists have less fear of doing different sorts of things, whether it's various types of music, or gallery artists moving between video and sculpture and drawing. Music, Chants & Rapps
I've noticed that when I am selling a lot of records, certain things become easier. I'm not talking about getting a table in a restaurant.
I've rarely kept my distance from kind of - I don't know if we can call it politics, but kind of, civic engagement and that kind of thing, except I tended to think, 'Well, do it yourself before you start telling other people what they should be doing.' Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
I've rarely seen video screens used well in a music concert. Music, Chants & Rapps
Life tends to be an accumulation of a lot of mundane decisions, which often gets ignored. Life
Maybe every city has a unique sensibility, but we don't have names for what they are or haven't identified them all. We can't pinpoint exactly what makes each city's people unique yet.
Most of our lives aren't that exciting, but the drama is still going on in the small details.
Music has to be sort of ignorable sometimes. Music, Chants & Rapps
Music was an experience, intimately married to your life. You could pay to hear music, but after you did, it was over, gone - a memory. Life ;Music, Chants & Rapps
My favorite time of day is to get up and eat leftovers from dinner, especially spicy food. Time ;Nutrition, Food, Starvation, Farming & Agriculture
Ninety percent of all music is always crap, and when too many people decide they're going to have guitar bands, then ninety percent of them are going to be crap. It's just a given law. Music, Chants & Rapps
Obviously, you go through a lot of emotional turmoil in a divorce.
Occasionally, I hanker for the time when I sold more records, but I don't sit and drool about it. When I do look at early footage of Talking Heads, I realise I was just a wreck. Time
On a bike, being just slightly above pedestrian and car eye level, one gets a perfect view of the goings-on in one's own town.
One knew in advance that life in New York would not be easy, but there were cheap rents in cold-water lofts without heat, and the excitement of being here made up for those hardships. I didn't move to New York to make a fortune. Life
One of the benefits of playing to small audiences in small clubs for a few years is that you're allowed to fail.
People are already finding ways to make their music and play it in front of people and have a life in music, I guess, and I think that's pretty much all you can ask. Life ;Music, Chants & Rapps
People hear about stuff from their friends or a magazine or a newspaper.
People in Latin America... love America from afar and emulate America in some ways but also hate a lot of things that America does to them. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
People use irony as a defense mechanism.
Performing is a thing in itself, a distinct skill, different from making recordings. And for those who can do it, it's a way to make a living.
Physical contact is a human necessity.
PowerPoint may not be of any use for you in a presentation, but it may liberate you in another way, an artistic way. Who knows.
Probably the reason it's a little hard to break away from the album format completely is, if you're getting a band together in the studio, it makes financial sense to do more than one song at a time. And it makes more sense, if you're going to all the effort of performing and doing whatever else, if there's a kind of bundle. Time
Punk was defined by an attitude rather than a musical style.
Real beauty knocks you a little bit off kilter.
So there's no guarantee if you like the music you will empathize with the culture and the people who made it. It doesn't necessarily happen. I think it can, but it doesn't necessarily happen. Which is kind of a shame. Music, Chants & Rapps
Software constraints are only confining if you use them for what they're intended to be used for.
Some artists and indie musicians see Spotify fairly positively - as a way of getting noticed, of getting your music out there where folks can hear it risk-free. Music, Chants & Rapps
Some folks believe that hardship breeds artistic creativity. I don't buy it. One can put up with poverty for a while when one is young, but it will inevitably wear a person down.
Sometimes I write stuff that strangely predicts what's going to happen in my life. Life
Sometimes it's a form of love just to talk to somebody that you have nothing in common with and still be fascinated by their presence. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
Suburban houses and tin sheds are often the objects of ridicule.
Technology has allowed people to make records really cheap. You can make a record on a laptop. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
Television sounded really different than the Ramones sounded really different than us sounded really different than Blondie sounded really different than the Sex Pistols.
That's the one for my tombstone... Here lies David Byrne. Why the big suit?
That's the thing about pictures: they seduce you.
The arts don't exist in isolation.
The assumption is that your personal life has to be a mess to create, but how much chaos can you allow in before it takes over? Life
The city is a body and a mind - a physical structure as well as a repository of ideas and information.
The Heads were the only band on that scene that had a groove.
The imminent demise of the large record companies as gatekeepers of the world's popular music is a good thing, for the most part. Music, Chants & Rapps
The making of music is profoundly affected by the market. Music, Chants & Rapps
The physical sensation of gliding with the wind in your face is exhilarating. That automatic activity of pedalling, when you have to be awake but not think too much, allows you to let subconscious thoughts bubble up, and things seem to just sort themselves out. And the adrenaline wakes you up if you weren't properly alert.
The true face of smoking is disease, death and horror - not the glamour and sophistication the pushers in the tobacco industry try to portray. Death
The voting booth joint is a great leveler; the whole neighborhood - rich, poor, old, young, decrepit and spunky - they all turn out in one day.
The wage for most musicians is a modest amount, and that includes me some of the time. Time
There are plenty of people who are, I think, completely racist who love hip-hop. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
There's a certain amount of freedom involved in cycling: you're self-propelled and decide exactly where to go. If you see something that catches your eye to the left, you can veer off there, which isn't so easy in a car, and you can't cover as much ground walking. Freedom & Liberty
There's more good music being made now than ever before. Music, Chants & Rapps
There's something about music that encourages people to want to know more about the person that made it, and where it was recorded, what year it was done, what they were listening to, and all this kind of stuff. There's something that invites all this obsessive behavior. Music, Chants & Rapps
To shake your rump is to be environmentally aware.
To some extent I happily don't know what I'm doing. I feel that it's an artist's responsibility to trust that. Trust
We don't make music - it makes us. Music, Chants & Rapps
We live in ugly times.
We tend to mistake music for the physical object. Music, Chants & Rapps
Well, Marx is having a comeback. I hear him mentioned a lot in terms of the global financial situation and the general sense of injustice out there. A lot of economic experts in America refer to him without actually using the M word, but he's around.
When I was in high school, there were these British blues-rock-type bands with really good guitar players that would jam on one song for half an hour. And as much as I was amazed by some of those guitar players, seeing them prompted me to make a note that that's not something I could do.
When things get so absurd and so stupid and so ridiculous that you just can't bear it, you cannot help but turn everything into a joke.
When we started, a lot of bands sounded really different from one another.
Why not invest in the future of music, instead of building fortresses to preserve its past? Future ;Music, Chants & Rapps
With music, you often don't have to translate it. It just affects you, and you don't know why. Music, Chants & Rapps
With pop music, the format dictates the form to a big degree. Just think of the pop single. It has endured as a form even in the download age because bands conform to a strict format, and work, often very productively, within the parameters. Music, Chants & Rapps ;Work, Workers & The Labor Force
Work aside, we come to New York for the possibility of interaction and inspiration. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
Yeah, anybody can go in with two turntables and a microphone or a home studio sampler and a little cassette deck or whatever and make records in their bedrooms.
Yeah, I like to keep myself interested - I'll kind of throw myself into some area that I don't completely know or understand, that I'm not adept at, so I'm forced to swim in order to stay afloat. There's a good feeling that comes from that.
Yeah, it's pretty hard not to be completely cynical these days.
You can know or not know how a car runs and still enjoy riding in a car.
You create a community with music, not just at concerts but by talking about it with your friends. Music, Chants & Rapps
You go to a festival, you know you're not going to play all new material at a festival. The audience is not there for that. I've made that mistake, but you find out pretty quickly.