Toby Barlow decided to become an author at age 40. His first book, Sharp Teeth, is about werewolves in LA. Written in verse. Which makes it a novel length poem and, frankly, an act of heroism. His second book, Babayaga, is about witches in Paris. Both made Amazon’s “Best of the Year” list and various other awards and praises.

And yet, incredulously, there are people—who we’re assuming don’t read books—who know him only as a Creative Director and serial entrepreneur. In Detroit, he’s the guy who brought back the letterpress with the nonprofit he founded, Signal Return, and produces art and cookbooks through his design store Nora. Add to the list: restauranteur, tennis player, and, most recently, Chief Creative Director of the ad agency he co-founded, Lafayette American.

And author of the NYTimes Op-ed about the $100 house that sent the world into a tizzy.

That guy.

This is a mediocre introduction to a great icon who we hope to one day capture for a full length interview.

In the meantime, here are some questions and answers and some songs he’s shared with us:

Detroitisit: What’s the last album you’ve listened to in its entirety? 

Toby Barlow: Belle & Sebastian, Dear Catastrophe Waitress

DII: How do you listen to music at home? 

TB: Spotify

DII: Name one song that’s changed you. 

TB: “Suffragette City” came on the radio when I was about 10 and punched me in the face.

DII: Sun sign? 

TB: Sun Ra

DII: Inner avatar? 

TB: The butcher

DII: What’s the characteristic you like most in people? 

TB: Curiosity

DII: Dislike the most? 

TB: Insincerity


Questions We Forgot to Ask (Thanks, Toby)

DII: Last book you read about music? 

TB: Sweet Soul Music by Peter Guralinick

DII: Best Live Show?  

TB: Johnny Cash at the Fillmore in San Francisco

DII: Artist You Most Wish You Saw Live, in their prime? 

TB: Prince

DII: Best Musical 

TB: Hedwig and the Angry Inch

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