Pujol comments on cynicism through his music



Pujol comments on cynicism through his music

By Alexa Rixon

Nashville-based rock band Pujol will be returning to Chicago to promote its EP, Kisses, released Nov. 27, 2015. It includes eight tracks: three poems and five rock ‘n’ roll songs.

Led by songwriter Daniel Pujol, the band collaborated with video collective Everything Is Terrible! September 2015 to create a music video for “Sleepy Doni” from Kisses. The video is colorful, kitschy and follows a young boy, Doni, in his bed sleeping with his eyes painted wide open. Strange shadows and creatures plague him with shenanigans throughout his slumber. Finally, he wakes up.

Pujol describes the character in his new spoken-word LP, Political Errors@TheEndofThe20thCentury, as a “bizarro-nightmare-inversion” of the character Sleepy Doni. The LP is being sold throughout this tour.

The band is scheduled to play at the Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western Ave., Oct. 29.

The Chronicle spoke with Pujol about the band’s song “Sleepy Doni” and how he uses his music to comment on cynicism in society.

THE CHRONICLE: Who is “Sleepy Doni”? 

DANIEL PUJOL: Sleepy Doni in that song is like a character exercise where the protagonist decides to drop his shackles of ironic detachment and juvenile cynicism and experiment with a graceful form of affirmative living, even though he’s not necessarily sure what that’s going to look like or how it’s going to be. He only has been conditioned in a culture that allows him to communicate in the passive affirmative through irony.

In the video, Doni’s eyes are closed but painted wide open. What does that mean?

My friend Commodore Gilgamesh at Everything Is Terrible! made that video. The way we work is long distance collaboration. I only give him prompts and lyrics and have a couple conversations, and then I trust him to document his interpretation. I can only interpret it. I can’t assign meaning to it. As the writer of the words, looking back on that image, I would say it reinforces that murky space between communicating the opposite of what you mean in order to noncommittally communicate what you’re trying to say. His eyes are only painted open. He’s trying to show you that he’s awake, but he’s doing it with his eyes closed.

What does the lyric“You can’t save the world, but you can heal it” in “Sleepy Doni” mean?

Some [20th century] thinkers advocated for utopian societies and a lot of that did not work. International communism, national socialism, fascism— all these things are failed attempts [to] achieve some kind of [utopian] society. You could say trying to establish a utopia is a form of trying to save the world.

What we need to say is: Let’s put the work in to try to make the world a better place. I can’t save the world; I can’t impose my model on the world. When you try to heal the world versus save the world, you’re not necessarily fixated on an end result. It doesn’t matter what the end looks like. You’re not going to get a reward for healing the world. You’re just putting the work in because you know you need to.

You once mentioned cynicism as taking society for granted, What does that mean?

I don’t think it’s a sign of sophistication or being [an] adult or being a realist to have a cynical expectation for everything to be dysfunctional. I think that it is protecting oneself from disappointment [and] stifling one’s own imagination.

You mentioned that with every person with a cynical outlook, a power vacuum is created. Why would that state of mind create a power vacuum?

If a large group of people become fatigued by hopelessness and feel like there is no point for them to exercise any form of labor to potentially realize a better life for themselves or better achieve a fluid form of functionality, you just got a bunch of tired, sad people. They still need to figure out a way to feed themselves, live a life and not die. If they’re too fatigued, sad, hopeless, beat down and discouraged to be able to rule over themselves as a society of citizens, then the only other option is for somebody to walk in and say they’re going to do it for them.

Why do you care about other people taking away their own power?

It’s in my self-interest for me to live in a consensus society that governs itself opposed to one minority group’s specific definition of what their ideal functional society would be like. I don’t have a lot of specific things that I cling to or identify with. I have a lot of things that I’ve experienced, been subjected to and had the opportunity to be exposed to. It’s a mishmash of stuff. I don’t want to have to be a certain way. I don’t need other people to be a certain way for me to know who I am.

What does utopia mean to you and do you think it’s possible to achieve?

If you say, “Daniel, you can have everything you want. I’m gonna’ give you everything you want right now,” what I’m going to say is, “What you’re offering me is everything that I think I wanted before you asked me. That’s the past [and] has nothing to do with right now. I don’t want everything I want.” What if you asked me that when I was 12? I’m much more interested in being able to learn things and grow and always be moving toward whatever I need to be moving toward.