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Michael Cera on His Surprise Album and Facing the Internet

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 14: Michael Cera attends the 'This is our Youth' Photo Call at the Cort Theatre on August 14, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Walter McBride/WireImage)
Photo: Walter McBrideCindy Ord/Getty2014 Getty Images

Last week, out of the blue, Michael Cera dropped an album of charming indie-folk on Bandcamp and, you know what, it was really good. Vulture caught up with Cera on Thursday at a Meet the Company event for This Is Our Youth, which he will be starring in on Broadway this September, to talk about the album and facing the internet,

So, your album: Big surprise! Can you tell us how you feel about it and why you chose to keep it a secret for so long?
It’s not a secret. It’s just some songs that I recorded at home for a while and finally felt like I could put online and have people listen to it. 

So, it was just kind of a spur of a moment decision to release it?
Yeah! To create a Bandcamp page.

It wasn’t a planned surprise?
No, you know, I’ve had these songs. I’ve lived with them for a long, long time. 

How long have you been working on them?
I don’t know. They’re the accumulation of two years or something. I’ve always shared them with friends, and one of my friends told me, “I think you’re too careful with your music. You should share it with people.” So, I thought, Okay, yeah, I will do that.

Just try it out?
Yeah, just open myself up to whatever’s scary about that. Obviously if you put something out there, people are gonna be kind of cruel about it, but I just felt like I like these songs enough to share them with people. 

Is releasing an album scarier than putting yourself onstage or on film?
Well, it’s funny because the internet’s anonymous, you see this really cruel side of humanity any time you make an effort to do anything, but I just didn’t care anymore because I like [these songs] enough to share them. 

Tell me a little bit about the album cover. Who’s the little girl?
It’s just my sister’s boyfriend’s daughter. 

Was there a specific reason behind that photo?
No, there’s nothing specific about it. None of it is really professional or anything. It’s just kind of like an effort. 

Who were you listening to while you were making the album and who are your influences in general?
I listen to a lot of Neil Young and Alden Penner and Roger Miller and Harry Nilsson. But I don’t think I sound like any of those people.

Michael Cera on His Surprise Album