A conversation with Andrew W.K. | Daily Hive | By Yasmine Shemesh
In New York, a place notorious for its cynicism, resides Andrew Fetterly Wilkes-Krier — Andrew W.K., for short. W.K. introduced himself to the music world in 2001 with his album I Get Wet, a fist-pumping manifesto of loud, fun-loving anthems like “It’s Time To Party” and “Party Hard.”
Since then, he’s become an advice columnist for the Village Voice, a motivational speaker, an author, and even started his own political party (called — what else — the Party Party), in an effort to share his message of positive partying.
Though when asked where he is exactly, he won’t name New York or any other city he may physically be at the present time. Instead, he says that he’s “neither here nor there” — an answer that, while outwardly vague, is actually quite telling of what the Party King all about.
This is not to be enigmatic or disobliging. On the contrary, he’s incredibly humble and immediately dismisses any notion of being called an artist or a type of philosopher out of respect for those who dedicate themselves to such disciplines. Positive partying is, quite simply, his cause and something that he tries to relay within various avenues. It’s hard to define succinctly, he says, but it’s basically about being alive and deciding to be happy about that, whether we like it or not.
“I think one can decide to interpret even the seemingly bad parts about life or even the hard parts of life as somehow wrapped up in a transcendent positivity,” W.K. explains. “That to come into existence is to come into a state of plus-ness, on the positive. You could say that to not exist is an absence and to exist is a presence — we would normally associate presence with positivity and absence with negativity. It’s not only that simple, but both of these polarities are sort of wrapped up in a holistic goodness. You know, the yin and yang. It’s hard to separate these two qualities, yet at the same time we can look at the phenomenon of negative and positive as a sort of entirety of positivity.”
W.K. has famously had critics question his authenticity or disregard him as contrived, but the truth of that matter is this: W.K. is completely sincere. Yes, he is a performer. A great one, in fact. But, he also wholly believes in what he preaches. Every single thing that he does, from his music to his political platform, is an attempt to cultivate the most joy of out life as humanly conceivable, both for the good of himself and of others. A song like “Party Til You Puke” is supposed to make you smile. It’s an approach that responds to a dark place that exists internally within W.K. The bottom line is, he’s just trying to cheer everyone up, including himself.
“I’m someone who has really struggled with maintaining an optimistic point of view, so I’ve always made attempts personally to work within certain mindsets that allow me to look at the world in a way that feels better or that makes me stronger, so that I can experience more of the world and not have to shut out parts of the world that are intimidating or challenging or even painful,” W.K. says. “I try to bolster myself enough that I can be as fully alive as possible. Maybe some folks can relate to that, but I think a lot of other folks are more advanced than that and are probably moved beyond these needs. But for those people who are looking for something that gives them an increased ability to feel good, then maybe they can take something away from one of my, well, offerings.”
W.K. has been candid about his longtime grapple with depression. In one particular column for the Village Voice, a reader penned in for advice on how to deal with perpetually bad feelings and asked W.K. how he stays so positive. W.K. sympathized with the reader, detailing his own experiences (“Sometimes it’s been a lingering feeling in the back of my head that something isn’t right, and that something is me,” he wrote. “Other times it has been a full-blown physically incapacitating despair,”). He then responded with the sentiment that depression can sometimes be like growing pains, but it’s how we direct that pain to use it for something beautiful.