Thanks to Carolyn, I attended last night’s Young Lions forum at the New York Public Library to listen to author John Wray interview Vampire Weekend’s frontman, Ezra Koenig and enjoy cupcakes by two-time Brooklyn Kitchen Cupcake winner, Kate Brown. The cupcakes were beautiful. I ate two and a half. Loved the banana with the fluffy peanut butter whiskey buttercream icing. You touch the icing and it doesn’t stick to your fingers …like magic (johnson).
My Notes: 1) Ezra Koenig seems a bit shy and timid, contrast to John Wray’s suave alpha-male presence and wine glass swirling. Ezra reminded me of my indie rock college friends at Florida. He became more relatable.
2) Much discussion on the band’s image of coming from a privileged background (being Columbia grads) and how Vampire Weekend gets a lot of shit for that. They make a good case that people do expect creative artists to come out of some hard life. Ezra often suggests that he does come from a working class family, not that I think he needs to defend himself.
3) He used to rap in high-school & college with the pseudonym, “Ezra-Factory.” …meaning a factory making Ezras or a factory producing dope rhymes or associating with Factory Records.
4) A discussion on how lyrics are usually very general in pop music and not very specific like in rap or story songs –meaning you can write about love in general or you can write about a specific person, like Bruce Springsteen in love with his Air Jordans. This was a relevant topic for me. I had just thought about Rusty’s songs and wondered if it could ever be popular with all the quirky name-dropping, specifically this song I uploaded in the morning. Ezra seemed to want to lean in on being more specific on his latest songs.
5) He defended his use of African/World beats in his music. It makes sense to me. Everything is always borrowed from someone and in many ways Vampire Weekend is very original at this time and moment. Plus, how many of friends’ parents played Paul Simon’s Graceland on cassette when they drove us to school. We all grew up on it.
6) Afterwards in the men’s room, Ezra Koenig commented, “ughh, I ate two cupcakes.” Well it was either him or his friend next to him. I almost joined in on the conversation, but realized that would be awkward because we were all taking a leak. Anyway, I think we all ate too many cupcakes.
I don’t know a whole lot about Vampire Weekend, but I’ve always been interested in their sudden success. Ezra seems like a very normal person, just doing what he’s doing. Not trying to be anything other them himself. He seems genuine and I commend him for that as an artist.
Just like the food forum I attended last year with Rocco DiSpirito, Amanda Hesser, Marion Nestle, and Julie Powell (author of the book turned hit movie, Julie & Julia), the Young Lions puts on some great events. If you’re interested, check out their membership page and help support the NYPL.
Brown Paper Bag Bakery – cupcakes by Kate Brown