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Jeffrey Lewis: Anti-Folk Comic-Book Antihero

Anti-folk songwriter Jeffrey Lewis isn't content to sing about love and loss. He finds inspiration in less-covered topics such as the true origins of punk music or mistaken identity on the subway. In an interview with guest host Guy Raz, Lewis talks about his muse, his other life as a comic book artist, and anti-folk music.

"On one hand, it's an appreciation for creativity over technique," Lewis says of anti-folk. "What's more important is if you're coming up with something interesting, creative and unique. The other explanation is that it's a mix of punk and folk influences."

As with all genres, no one musician fits all those descriptions, but it's a decent introduction to anti-folk's seemingly anarchistic approach to art.

Speaking of anarchy, a few years ago, Lewis wrote a nine-minute song called "The History of Punk on the Lower East Side, 1950-1975," which is exactly what the title says. Lewis says that he loves to incorporate history into all of his creative projects, whether they be songs, comic books or live presentations. In fact, he's currently working on a multipart history of Communism.

Lewis likes to mix his music and comic books in what he calls "low-budget videos." Over the last few years, Lewis has completed 25 large, full-color books that he reads and sings live while his band performs behind him.

"Comics are such an antisocial form of creativity," Lewis says. "You're just alone in your room for hours and hours working on them, whereas with music, you actually get to bring what you do to the public. Music has actually been great for bringing my comic books to people."

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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