The “What I’ve Learned” Podcast: Rufus Wainwright On How the Pandemic Forced Him to Slow Down

“Having to stop and re-evaluate everything in my life was a much-needed event that I wasn't necessarily aware needed to happen.”

In the “What I’ve Learned” podcast, Arianna Huffington sits down with people she loves and admires, in fields from music and technology to sports and business, to explore the lessons they’ve learned over the extraordinary past year about themselves, their lives, and what they truly value. 

This week, musician Rufus Wainwright on learning new skills, connecting with his daughter and husband on a deeper level, and why he works out to classical music.

On how the pandemic gave him time to hone his skills:

“I strongly believe that my voice, particularly, was aided in this period, with having to stop touring and stop getting on planes and having proper sleep. If I talk to someone and they say, ‘Oh, you know, this is so lame. I can’t go out on the road and I don’t know what to do,’ I’m like, ‘This is an amazing opportunity to write more and really work on your singing.’ Or, for me, it was also very much working on my piano playing. I can really practice for several hours a day. So it’s a good time as an artist to really focus on mastering something.”

On how his daughter named his new album “Unfollow the Rules”:

“There’s this age around from about 6 to 8 or 9 — this transition period where they’re becoming aware of themselves, but they’re also still attached to this sort of surreal nature of life. And when she said ‘unfollow the rules’ it was this strange connection that she made in her head. Where on one hand, she was facing rules in life. You know, you can’t do this, you can’t do that. But also, she was hearing a lot of stuff with computers, like unfollowing people on Facebook or Instagram. So she just put two and two together and said, ‘Oh, well, I’ll just unfollow rules!’”

On his marriage during the pandemic:

“I think that anybody in a marriage or long-term relationship can admit that when the pandemic hit there was definitely a couple of weeks of like, ‘Oh my God, is this going to wipe out my relationship? Can I do this?’ Thankfully, it ended up being really good for me and my husband. We actually needed to reconnect — on several fronts. Also, my husband is my manager and that ended up being interesting. We work together a lot, but then when it turned out that we had to keep working together and living together all the time and bringing up a child, it actually worked out well because, just practically, we could survive. The house became like this factory — but I’m ready to go on tour!”

To hear more from Rufus, listen to this full episode of “What I’ve Learned,” available wherever you get your podcasts.  

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