Wayne Coyne Talks Yoko Ono

After their recent collaboration...
Wayne Coyne tinfoil.png
Wayne Coyne recently opened up to ClashMusic about The Flaming Lips' collaboration with Yoko Ono.

The Flaming Lips are keen to make friends. The Oklahoma collective spent the past 12 months working with other artists, filing away their collaborations for a future release.

Set to be made widely available through Bella Union this month, 'The Flaming Lips And Heady Fwends' includes some iconic artists. Joining Wayne Coyne & Co. are the likes of Ke$ha, Prefuse 73, Nick Cave and Neon Indian - amongst plenty of others.

Managing to get Wayne Coyne on the phone, Clash Magazine editor Simon Harper spoke to the artist about his unusual new project. Opening up about those collaborations, the songwriter reflected on his work with Yoko Ono, in particular.

Yoko Ono appears on your new ‘Heady Fwends’ album, and she thrives on spontaneity. What was working with her like?
We worked with Sean [Lennon] and Charlotte in their studio in New York while Yoko - she was doing stuff with us, but she was working remotely from London and then Tokyo. But I don’t know; when I listen to a lot of Yoko’s music, to me it doesn’t feel as though it’s endlessly reaching around. She has a thing that she does and she does it pretty consistently. It’s so strange how to almost anybody in the world that knows anything about music you say ‘Yoko Ono’ and they know exactly what she’s doing. And you take it for granted. You know, one day she woke up and said: ‘This is what I’m going to do. I’m gonna go [wails incoherently] and tell the world this is my music’, and that’s insane to get away with that. It’s insane to say ‘this is what I do’.

In the time that we worked with her it was a little bit difficult because she wants to be the one that makes the music. When I was with Sean and Charlotte, I was pushing my agenda of ‘Well, here’s what I want to do but I want you to on it’, but Yoko doesn’t do that easily. In the end, I think once she heard it she thought, ‘Oh well, this sounds great, because I think I sang great on it’. But in the beginning she was like, ‘I don’t want to do your music. I want to do my own music. Why would I want to work with you?’ And luckily with Sean there saying, ‘Come on Mom, this is really fun, we’re all working on this together’ it happened. But it wasn’t completely free-form. There was a lot of ‘Yes mam, we’ll do it this way’. (Laughs) Which is what I like! I liked that she did here thing! I don’t want anybody to just be nice to me. I want them to do their thing, and she definitely did her thing.

Was there a lot of compromise elsewhere on the album, or was everybody cool?
No. That was why I went to so much effort. The [Yoko] track that was on the album is a great fucking track, but we didn’t make it really. It kind of happened. That was the track we had to fight for the most because she did these vocal things but then we made the track from it. We cut and pasted all these things, and although it sounds like a performance it’s not really. And I think that’s why she had so much difficulty with it - she was like, ‘Well, I don’t remember doing that. I don’t really want to do it that way’.

So in time, and with a little bit of letting her sit with it, I think she came to really like it - once she’d listened to it without thinking that we were trying to invade her creation or something. But yeah, I mean that’s the nature of working with people: I want them. I don’t want a watered-down version of them. I don’t want them saying yes when they mean no. If they say no, they mean no, and you have to work on it.

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'The Flaming Lips And Heady Fwends' will be released on July 30th. Watch out for a full interview with Wayne Coyne on ClashMusic shortly!

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