I've always, especially through old Hollywood musicals, loved just to watch tap dancing; I adore it. I think it's fantastic.

I don't like the idea the viewer can kind of sit there and go, 'Make me like this person.' People aren't inherently sympathetic.

First time that I cried at a work of art was at a drum solo that I saw. A drummer named Winard Harper, part of the Billy Taylor Trio, gave back in - I would have been in high school - 2005 or something.

I think there is something to be said for not coddling people and not accepting good as good enough.

Certainly, my manager Gary Ungar was the first person to give me any attention and hustle for me. This was back in 2009.

Mozart was born Mozart. Charlie Parker was born Charlie Parker.

There something to be said for having even unrealistic dreams. Even if the dreams don't come true - that, to me, is what's beautiful about Los Angeles. It's full of these people who have moved there to chase these dreams.

There's something very particular about the kind of rage you feel when you're alone in a practice room by yourself, unable to master a simple thing like a rudiment.

I wanted to look at the mentality that can breed that sort of intensity, that kind of cutthroat, pressure-cooker feeling, especially a form of music like jazz, that should be - or you'd think should be - all about liberation and improvisation and everything.

I was a jazz drummer, and it was my life for a while: what I lived and breathed every day.

I've always wanted to make movies that are fever dreams.

In a weird way, I'm always going to ground myself. I'm an insecure kind of pessimist, but I'm always kind of waiting for the other shoe to drop.

There are no large-scale original musicals being made right now. They're all Broadway adaptations and jukebox musicals or catalog musicals, and they just don't interest me as much.

One interesting thing about jazz, or art in general, but jazz especially is such an individual art form in the sense that improvisation is such a big part of it, so it feels like it should be less soldiers in an army and more like free spirits melding. And yet, big band jazz has a real military side to it.

I guess I'm kind of interested in that elusive search for a bond between life and work and between compassion and competitiveness. There's always something at the end you have to find to live a full life, but it's hard to find.

I like movies that are specific. Movies that home in on a very specific subculture, a specific discipline, a specific world.

People like Art Blakey and Buddy Rich, you look at them playing music, and it's just like looking at a heavy metal drummer. I mean, they're playing with the same amount of ferocity. It's not to say all jazz is like that.

I was in high school, and when you get to be 14, 15, you start to feel a little more like your own person so that you can assert your adulthood a little bit.

I tend to latch on to things and not let go.

There's something very particular about the kind of rage you feel when you're alone in a practice room by yourself, unable to master a simple thing like a rudiment. You keep trying to master this very basic thing, and when you don't get it, you just scream. I broke a lot of drum heads, and I broke a lot of sticks.

I hadn't seen that many movies that really go deep enough into the fears of playing music or the language that musicians can use to treat each other or, like, the way that you can see it dehumanize and the way that it can feel like boot camp.

I remember moving out to L.A. straight after college and just starting to try to write scripts and trying to get stuff off the ground.

I find L.A. kind of romantic, actually. As a movie junkie, it's a city that was built by the movies. There's something really weird and surreal about it that I find energizing.

I like the idea of working my way up. I don't feel impatient to immediately jump into something that could literally bring down a studio if I don't do it well.

If you're an artist, you want to draw from real life; you want to draw from experiences, emotion, and it's something that a lot of musicians juggle with. I've always found it so fascinating.

My motivation for being a good drummer was born out of fear, which, in a way, seems so antithetical to what art should be.

The end result of my personal story is that I became a really good drummer, and I know myself well enough to know that I wouldn't have without this really tough conductor and this really cutthroat hostile environment I was in.

Practicing is not normally fun. Sometimes people say they're practicing, but they're really just enjoying themselves and the instrument. That's not real practice.

I was really trying to sell to people who hate jazz: to make a case for the art form as youthful and energetic, not the sort of rarified intellectual activity it's painted as.

At the upper echelon of musicians in general, I guess performers in general, you have to have this kind of live-or-die, cutthroat mentality.

If you're on the varsity team, the responsibilities are a lot bigger and there's more stress, but you also walk around feeling probably like you can hold your head high.

I didn't have traditional stage fright. If there was 500 people in the audience or three people in the audience, it didn't really make a difference. What made a difference was the conductor. Everything that I was scared about as a drummer was him. It was his face. It was whether or not he'd approve of my playing.

Going back to my film education, I always have that voice in my head that's always screaming, 'Sell out!' And that's good: you want that, because it keeps you on your toes, and it's important to remember what's actually important.

It's a little difficult when something goes from being an utter obsession - a thing where your skill defines you as a person - to it just being a thing you occasionally do.

I feel like a lot of directing is casting.

I'm a terrible procrastinator.

When someone is playing drums, they aren't actually moving around a space; they're just moving their arms and limbs. They're stuck behind the drum set. So to film someone playing the drums and make it feel as kinetic as a car chase or a shootout or a battle scene was the challenge.

'La La Land' is about the city I live in. It's about the music that I grew up playing; it's about movies that I grew up watching. Even the big spectacle of the movie feels private to me in that way.

By the end of high school, I had this fork-in-the-road moment where part of me considered going to vocational music school to really pursue it.

I handle screenings and award ceremonies really badly.

As delicate as 'Guy and Madeline' was, it was important that 'Whiplash' come off as more of a fever dream.

People aren't inherently sympathetic.

Certainly, grades only matter so much when you're in Hollywood. But I became an utterly motivated, devoted, committed student. I was a good student because I was convinced that it would somehow help me in my quest to become a filmmaker.

I want to do an American 'Umbrellas of Cherbourg.'

I do truly believe that the smallest stories can wind up being the biggest because it's through the specific that a writer can best access the universal.

My first movie was totally improvised.

I remember when I first met Jason Reitman with the 'Whiplash' script; he quickly became a mentor figure who guided me through the process and also protected me and made sure that when it came time to actually make 'Whiplash,' I was able to make exactly the movie I wanted to make.

I guess art itself is insane. Its actual function is rarely clear, and yet people give their hearts and souls and lives to it, and have for all of history.

I never desperately wanted to be a jazz drummer. If anything, I was motivated a lot by fear. Fear of the conductor, fear of the future.