Peter Gabriel: The way I look at talent in any of the arts is that they’re just languages. In other words, if I was dropped in any country in the world and in order to survive had to learn some of the language, I would find a way to do it. Some people would be quicker and better and more adept than others, but everyone could do it. And I feel the same with writing music, with painting, or whatever creative form it is. If you really believed that you’d swallowed a pill that would destroy you in 12 months’ time, if you hadn’t proved talent in a certain area, you would be amazed at how much you could do and how good you could be.
I think people, we’re creatures — naturally, most of us — full of self-doubt. And you need to have that conviction that there’s something worthwhile that you can do. A lot of people I know who end up doing creative stuff are either — they think they’re a piece of shit or they think they’re the best thing in the world, and possibly both at the same time. So it’s to manage that sort of pathway so that you can actually keep on working hard is what you need to learn. But what I try to say to any young people now is, “Don’t exclude yourself from anything.”
This achievement — at one of the dinners I sat next to Sir John Gurdon. He told me when he was in school, all the students in the school — of which there were 250 — he was number 250 in science. And you know, he’s now won the Nobel Prize, and he found a teacher afterwards who inspired him, allowed him to think, “Actually, I can do this. I’ve got something — you know, clearly something — that I can follow and do well.” So that’s what I say to young people now is that, “Don’t let any obstacle or people discourage you from what you’re passionate about.” I think it should be like dogs going in a park. You know, you go in there with your tail wagging and sniff anything interesting and you jump on it.