On February 7, I did a phone interview with Marcus Miller for Nextbop. I'm probably as surprised as you are, but I think it went well. We talked for about an hour, and he seemed willing to open up. Before I did the interview, I happened to have come across this line in an entry from Sam Stephenson's wonderful blog, the Jazz Loft Project:
"Joseph Mitchell once said that the least interesting people to interview were business leaders, society women, and successful authors. These types were required to talk so much that their stories inevitably became canned. Miles Davis is going to tell you the same stories over and over; he’ll be bored stiff; and the stories probably won’t be true."
I think he has a great point. (Although I did enjoy Miles Davis's autobiography.) The interview I did with Mr. Miller was one of many many interviews he's done in the past. After that many, you might start to mythologize your own life, to unconsciously create cliched answers. Listen to any interview with Dave Brubeck: he's a mensch, and one of the sweetest guys in jazz, but you'll probably be sighing from boredom after the second or third story he tells.
I might be putting too much blame on the interviewee, though. The reason I like Terry Gross so much is because she can talk to anyone, almost always asks the right questions, and gets her interviewees to open up, regardless of how many times they've been asked the same question.
I'm starting to realize that interviewing is an art unto itself. An art that I am very uncomfortable with. I'm not yet sure if an interview is a conversation. But maybe if I start looking at it like that, it'll get easier. I hate waiting to ask a question--instead of listening--but sometimes I do wait for fear I will not have anything else to say.
I felt the interview with Mr. Miller went very smoothly. I had questions I had planned on asking, as I imagine any interviewer should, but they came up naturally as we continued to talk. I hope you find his answers insightful.