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Kurt Vile Talks Being Made (In a Minute)

Losing your job isn't exactly the first step to success, but it worked out.
October 11, 2013, 6:25pm

Some of us, when we're young, are lucky enough to have piano teachers or guitar teachers or even banjo teachers, if that's the instrument we want to learn. Kurt Vile, on the other hand, had a "banjo teacher," which he describes using copious air quotes. "I used to just bring in tapes for him to teach me," he remembers of being a 14-year old student to someone who was probably not that much older than himself. "I was just like a teenager so it would be like Pavement songs or Cracker songs, something."

Like many other teenagers, Vile started out with covers of his favorite bands. Like many other younger artists, he started his own career through truly DIY means. "By the time I was 17 I made my first tape," he says. "From then on I was putting out my own CD-Rs." By the time 2008 rolled around, he had enough songs to merit a "best of" collection—another phrase he'd probably use air quotes for—on a tiny label, before he'd managed to record a typical album. "I was just getting so busy with the music thing so that was kind of tough to work a full-time job," he says. "I luckily just got fired at the right time, so everything was pretty up in the air because I didn't have a job technically."

Losing your job isn't exactly the first step to success, but it worked out. "That same week it was nuts," he says. "I got signed to Matador." Since then, he's released album after album of breezy, critically acclaimed folk music betraying the perspective of someone's who's fine taking his time to get somewhere. "I think every step of the way, every record just gets better for me," he says. "That's me in a nut shell, right there."