Radiohead’s Thom Yorke “Fundamentally Invented Twitter”


Radiohead singer Thom Yorke recalled how he and his longtime collaborator Stanley Donwood accidentally invented Twitter several years before the social media platform launched.

The musician and artist-writer spent time avoiding music after the success of the 1997s OK Computer as Yorke faced a “complete creative block”. Instead, they focused on the painting, developing a collaborative relationship where they worked on the works of others until they felt that one of them “won” the process.

“Everyone involved felt like we were in a strange circus for a while, after OK ComputerYorke said in an excerpt from the couple’s art book Kid A Mnesia (via the Guardian). “Personally, I have completely collapsed mentally, just like Stan. … Rather than immersing ourselves in this atmosphere of congratulations that surrounds us, we felt the opposite. There was this fierce desire to be totally outside of everything that was going on, and a fierce anger, and mistrust. And it permeated everything. It was completely disproportionate, deeply unhealthy, but that’s where we were.

He continued, “I had had a complete creative block, and Rachel, my partner at the time, said, ‘Stop trying to make music. Stop completely for a while. So I would walk around drawing everything I could see. Countryside. So the scenery became an extremely important part of what was happening because it relaxed me. … Sitting in front of a landscape and just trying to represent it the way we feel – choosing to listen to that and not just any shit in your head – has been an extremely liberating experience.

He described the emotional journey as “tortuous,” characterized by “a complete lack of confidence, a total cynicism in our own success, not feeling in any way culturally linked to what was going on in our own country, but at the same time. aware that we were in a truly privileged position.

At one point along the way, Donwood became obsessed with the concept of the Greek mythological beast the Minotaur. “Over and over again he went,” Yorke said. “And that was really part of what was happening. The Minotaur swore to repeat his mistakes in a maze. We had this whole plan worked out for this ziggurat, where people could log in, build a room in the ziggurat themselves, and leave messages for others.

Donwood explained, “And they had to use a number of characters. We basically invented Twitter before Twitter and we haven’t been able to make any money from it. Yorke added: “It was called the Byzantine Ziggurat. But we didn’t want anyone’s data, so it was never going to work.

Kid A Mnesia is described as a “celebration of the Radiohead albums Child A and AmnesiacWhich “showcases over 300 works of art in color” and “presents a dialogue between Thom Yorke and Stanley Donwood on the creative process”. It is released in the United States on February 22. Both albums were re-released with additional music as a single product on November 5.

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