“Benji,” the devastating new LP from Sun Kil Moon — the pen name of San Francisco’s Mark Kozelek — is an early album-of-the-year contender, and a bold addition to a first-rate catalog. The singer-guitarist plays Seattle’s Neptune Friday — read Soundposts’ preview here.
Kozelek doesn’t grant interviews often, but graciously spoke via email about subjects including songwriting, concert etiquette and the recording process.
How do you decide when a song is done?
Mark Kozelek: You just know, like when you’re done peeing. It’s over… time to flush the toilet.
You seem to operate an album ahead of the one you’re promoting. Does this have any effect on how you construct a setlist?
MK: I play what I’m in the mood to play… it’s a pretty good gauge in figuring out a setlist.
Your voice is ageless… no wear-and-tear. Are there steps you take to preserve it?
MK: I just sing… I don’t think about it.
You request not to be photographed. Do you feel similarly about bootlegging?
MK: Yeah, but I realize there are lonely guys out there that need to find things to do. You never hear of a hot girl bootlegging a show.
Has this sort of thing become harder to police, with the ubiquity of iPhones at shows?
MK: I request no cells, no photography, no recording — like many other artists do — but there’s not much I can do to enforce this. Lonely guys with backpacks are a very determined bunch.
What constitutes a good recording, to you?
MK: Good performances. As far as for myself, we use no compressors, no EQ, and we don’t do the traditional mastering process. We use the mixes in their natural state.
Is there anyplace besides San Francisco you can envision yourself living?
MK: New Orleans… but it’s too hot in the summer. I like Northern California.
What do you think people most misunderstand about Mark Kozelek?
MK: That I’m a human being.Sun Kil Moon
8 p.m. Friday at The Neptune Theatre, 1303 NE 45th St., Seattle; $20-23 (206-682-1414 or stgpresents.org)