Q&A with Trevor Sensor: "I Wanted to Make a Sincere Record."
Twenty-three year old Trevor Sensor is just on the verge of releasing his debut album, Andy Warhol's Dream, an introspective look at not only himself, but also a beautifully written commentary on pop culture and the way we consume art. Inspired somewhat directly by Andy Warhol and his own thoughts on Celebrity Culture, this debut full-length (out June 16th) finds Sensor at his best, and what better way to showcase that then a run of tour dates? Right now, Sensor is just wrapping up a small handful of shows left for May before another run in July and August. Get to know him and listen to his new track, "High Beams" now below, and grab Andy Warhol's Dream when it drops on June 16th!
Interview by Dom Vigil
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself for any readers who might not be familiar?
I'm pretty much a bookworm who's somehow found himself on stages across America and Europe singing songs written in various hideaways thinking that they'd never be heardby anyone outside friends and family. I was originally going to go into the world of academia and study philosophy or literature in grad school, but fate had other plans (for now) it seems. I'm most comfortable when I'm alone out in some hut in the woods reading and writing - taking walks through nature and having good drinks and conversation with dear friends.
How do you feel that your hometown of Sterling has affected you as a musician? Do you think it has an impact on the songs that you write today?
It's affected me deeply because I lived there for the majority of my youth until I went to college. Sterling taught me lessons about the darker sides of humanity. I learned that the world was an awful place not outside the supposed haven of small town America, but actually within it - constantly being exposed to its dark heart and the escapisms that people turn to in order to the numb their senses to all this tar and black ooze and people just simply being terrible to one another. Growing up there stained my very Being - hence the work I produce will also carry that stain in one way or another.
You’re just getting ready to release your debut album, Andy Warhol’s Dream. When you first started piecing this album together, did you have any major goals in mind?
I think the main thing I wanted to do was make something that was honest and cohesive. I wanted to make a sincere record, something that truly represented who I am now at 23 releasing this thing out into the world. To make something that was individual to myself alone, and that would hopefully relate to people in regards to what those songs are trying to say.
Can you tell us a little bit about the meaning behind Andy Warhol’s Dream?
The main thesis behind 'Andy Warhol's Dream' stems from a question I posed myself that goes something along the lines: "Is it possible in the 21st century, a world driven by celebrity culture and fame mongering - where the individual ceases to exist more and more (in accordance to Kierkegaard's prophecy that, in the future due to mass communication and technology, there will be more viewers in the theater of life vicariously living through the ever waning number of actors on the stage), to make a commercial piece of art (since these songs fall under the category of 'popular music' and are middle-brow at best) that is honest and true to the individual who makes it while fending off the pressures of pop culture, business constituents and the masses at large?"
We find ourselves in an era where Hollywood refuses to promote truly artistic films just as much as reboots and blockbusters solely due to wanting to maximize profits - and this poisonous mindset has trickled into other mediums in the art industry. So using Andy Warhol as a vehicle (due to his prophecy of Celebrity Culture, that everyone will have their "15 Minutes of Fame" etc.), I wanted to make something that didn't aim to be "streamable," or was organized in any way for the sake of commercial success, or even for the sake of impressing 'indie culture' and the hipsters etc. by using heavy handed irony and cynicism to appear 'cool,' while still using classic 'popular music' techniques of having hooks and short song structures to draw people in so they'll listen more closely to what I have to say about all this. The thesis lies in trying to make something honest and relatable to the human condition - and being honest to the public that yes, I do care about making an objectively great piece of art and that I believe there is a way to go about that. It all gets too complicated to explain any further in this limited format.
How do you think you’ve grown between Texas Girls and Jesus Christ and this new album?
I think I've grown in regards to trusting my instincts on how to record, as well as coming to understand that the live show is a distant second to the recorded album itself. Never compensate your work for the sake of worrying about how you're going to pull it off live at a show when promoting the work - that can be sorted later (or, not done at all - for there is something admirable about folks like Harry Nilsson and Scott Walker who made records and never toured on them). I've also just changed as a person, so what I made at 21/22 with 'Texas Girls and Jesus Christ' is going to be different than what I make at 23 with 'Andy Warhol's Dream.' It should always continue on like that - always be in a state of becoming, which I can't help regardless because I'm typically a restless, unsatisfied person.
Recently, you released a video for the track, “High Beams” from the album. What inspired this song?
"High Beams" was inspired by a conversation I had with a friend over gin and cigarettes back in my hometown, as well as some observations of people I'd made from over the years. There's not much more I'd wish to say other than that.
You’re currently out on the road in support of the upcoming album! What are you looking forward to the most on these upcoming shows?
Mainly the traveling and seeing friends I have across the country. Touring is more so a 'job' for me in many regards - so it's never really been this sexy, fun thing for me perhaps as it is for other artists. But the traveling around and seeing people is good for me - when I'm not touring, I'm usually in a hole somewhere writing or reading - touring helps calm that restless side of me.
Do you have any other big plans after you wrap up these dates and the album drops?
Well, the biggest plans I know of right now is more touring in support of this album. Doing promo, interview, traveling around and playing shows etc. etc. During that time I'll still be writing for the next project - that's what I'm really looking forward to. If I had it my way, I'd never leave the studio and just constantly pump out projects of all kinds. It's an unfortunate side of my being, I always have to be working on something - otherwise my drive for life fades away quickly.
What is the rest of 2017 looking like for you?
2017 is a lot of touring from what I understand - maybe some studio time. Either way, from what I can tell, I won't be sleeping a lot.
Thank you for taking the time to chat with us! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Just some reading material recommendations: Anything by Kafka, Marcel Proust, Tolstoy, Thomas Nagel, Sylvia Plath, Sharon Olds, Henry Miller...just read in general. Destroy your televisions. Leave your computer screens behind.