Technology: Neil Young

This year’s irony is you released a great, totally lo-fi album, A Letter Home, and at the same time launched a high-resolution, high-tech music service with Pono. Typical Neil Young, no?

I think it’s more just an interesting juxtaposition of the two things. We had an incredible start on Kickstarter for Pono; we raised millions of dollars to get started and now we have interest from other funding sources. And people are really into it.

What accounts for that interest?

It’s of the people and it’s for the people. I think there are a lot of people who remember good-sounding music, even if they’re in the older generation. Some people who are my age, they think they’ve lost their hearing because they listen to music and they can’t hear anything. They don’t realise there’s nothing there, the technology’s so poor. Here we are in the twenty-first century and the music we listen to is probably the worst-sounding audio ever recorded. So it’s about bringing the sound of music back into life again. Technology is supposed to serve us; we’re not supposed to be limited by technology, and the whole music industry is limited by an inferior technology. I believe that Pono has the chance to completely revolutionise it, and it’ll be a world-changing event when people actually hear it. The opportunity for greatness here is unparalleled.

You mention the older audience, but it seems that younger fans are learning to appreciate better sound, via vinyl.

That’s right, and they’re in for a big surprise. When they hear this, they’re gonna be… Well, my daughter just heard this, for instance. She has, like, six thousand songs on her MP3 player, and when she first heard Pono, she just looked at me and she said, “Dad, how come I’ve never heard this?” And I said, “Well, honey, it’s the technology.” We didn’t create anything. We just made available what really already existed.