Father John Misty: Elements of Misdirection

Hear the story of a successful American singer-songwriter, who grew up in a religious home that he had to break radically with. Meet Joshua Tillman who became Father John Misty, and who has made roleplaying the axis of his captivating songs.

"There are a lot of ways where the rhetoric of being an artist or a musician overlaps with the rhetoric of faith or religion," says Misty. Growing up in a strict Protestant Evangelical home in suburban Maryland, U.S. -- where only Christian culture was permitted -- he explains that the fantasy world he has created is similar to the religious world in which he was raised.

Unhappy with his background, the American songwriter felt a strong desire to break with it completely and re-invent himself. The ultimate way of doing so was by changing his name. Several albums were thus produced under the name J. Tillman and were -- in Misty's own words -- "cathartic." Around the age of 30, he had a "creative pre-mature midlife crisis," which made him realize that in order to survive creatively he had to keep moving. As a response, Father John Misty was created: "Any time you get on stage there's something inauthentic happening. At worst something inauthentic. And at the most benign you are like an object to people and they're animating who you are with their own perceptions and whatever else." Creating the character of Father John Misty then also became a way for him to be "authentically fake."

Joshua Tillman (Father John Misty) (b. 1981) is an American singer, guitarist, drummer and songwriter. He started out doing solo albums under the name J. Tillman from age 21 and later went on to play drums in the critically acclaimed folk-band Fleet Foxes (2008-2012). In 2012 Tillman released his first album as Father John Misty called 'Fear Fun'. His second album 'I Love You, Honeybear' was released in 2014 and received excellent reviews from the likes of The Guardian, SPIN and Pitchfork.

Father John Misty was interviewed by Roxanne Bagheshirin Lærkesen at the music venue Vega in Copenhagen, Denmark in November 2015 in connection to his concert. Clips from the concert are featured during the video.

Camera: Simon Weyhe and Klaus Elmer
Produced and edited by: Roxanne Bagheshirin Lærkesen
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2015

Supported by Nordea-fonden