Interview Tips From Prince

During most of the 1980s and much of the ’90s, Prince declined almost every interview request he received. On those rare occasions he granted an interview, he always made a curious demand: The reporter could not use a tape recorder or take written notes. The reporter had to memorize whatever Prince happened to be saying that day. At the time, it was assumed Prince did this because he was beavershit crazy and always wanted to be in a position to retract whatever was written about him. However, his real motive was more reasonable and (kind of) brilliant: He wanted to force the reporter to reflect only the sense of the conversation, as opposed to the specific phrases he elected to use. He was not concerned about being misquoted; he was concerned about being quoted accurately. Prince believed that he could represent himself better as an abstraction – his words could not be taken out of context if there was no context. He could only be presented as the sum total of whatever was said, devoid of specifics … He would always come across as interesting (in that the reporter would be forced to essentially fictionalize a narrative from a conversation that was almost impossible to reference), but he’d still be presented in the way he wanted to be seen (which is to say, enigmatically).

—Chuck Klosterman, Eating the Dinosaur

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