Perhaps you should show your work sometime,' or I'll be exhibiting at a gallery and someone will ask, 'Do you still make music? These two worlds are totally isolated from each other, and I like that."Given Banhart's own history, the polarity in his working life doesn't seem so surprising.Raised in Caracas by his mother and stepfather, at 13 he and his family moved to California.
So maybe some of that duality comes from this initial experience.
I was instinctively getting in touch with something that not everyone gets in touch with.
Banhart didn't speak a word of English but muddled through.
Now he revels in his dual identity."Well I am a Gemini," he says. ' I'm genuinely frustrated by the fact that when I open my mouth to sing, it doesn't sound like this guy."So Banhart waited until his mother went out.
In the past 10 years he has pursued a similarly successful and completely separate career as an artist, having had exhibitions at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, and collaborated with Yoko Ono.
Banhart, who creates the artwork for all his albums, was also nominated for a Grammy for the haunting cover of his last LP, 2009's What Will We Be.Banhart's mother and stepfather were both acolytes of an Indian guru named Prem Rawat (aka Maharaj Ji) of the Divine Light Mission, who gave Devendra his first name, which is another name for the Lord Indra, the Hindu god of rain. There were people phoning the school making death threats.It was like, 'Oh my God, there's a fag in the school'.Given his lethargy during the radio interview, I hoped it might perk him up. You're just trying to make me feel bad."I am, I say."Well that's very British.This was both a good move (he is tremendously and vociferously pleased to be here) and an idiotic one (every time the conversation gets interesting, he gasps at a painting and bounds off to take a picture of it). I'm not that old."Oh no, that's not what I meant," he says, appalled. But you should know I'm a horrible person to get in a fight with because I want to be punished.The Texas-born, Venezuela-raised Banhart is part of a loosely-connected generation of singers – among them Sufjan Stevens, the harpist Joanna Newsom and torch singer Antony Hegarty – that have made unexpected inroads into the mainstream.