Merrill Garbus confirmed that I attended the first-ever Tune-Yards show in LA.
It was in someone’s living room in a Los Feliz house and I had been invited there by her touring buddy, Zach Lewis aka Disposable Thumbs, a friend of mine from junior high school. They had been touring cross country in a Volkswagen golf and she was only selling cassettes so I had nothing to bring back to the station!
She was stunning, as she was on her Morning Becomes Eclectic debut, displaying a musical genius and ferocity that is really unparalleled at the moment. Using her voice as her primary instrument, with help from a ukulele, drums and a loop pedal. She says she’s really appreciative of those early years she spent touring given her rather quick rise in the music world.
“I’m pretty darn comfortable doing this stuff now, partially because I did it in living rooms and I did it, you know, you do it where you have to do it. And like you said, I felt compelled enough to do it to do it any sort of odd circumstances and sometimes difficult circumstances.”
She’s not a big fan of studio gloss and her lo-fi roots continue to show through on her sophomore album.
Aside from a captivating performance, I learned a few things about her I didn’t know before:
- Her parents are both musicians and, after pursuing puppeteering and theater, she decided to give into her fate as a musician, with a tenor ukulele her mom bought her at an Army-Navy store.
- Her fascination with Africa was inspired by relatives who lived in Kenya for a short time. She learned Swahili language in college and tells us “quote-unquote world music became very captivating to me because it was these sounds that I wasn’t used to hearing in our sort of canon of popular music here, so I think my ears just go where the weird stuff is.”
- And yes, her music is purposely confrontational. “I never wanted to make art just for the sake of being pretty. I don’t think that this is pretty music. I mean, it has moments of beauty, but I wasn’t interested in creating something that would just make people feel at ease, because I find for myself that I feel way more alive and way more comfortable when I’m aware of everything. And so to me it’s important to sort of be in your face with some stuff, like, hey, wake up! What’s really going on? Don’t lie to yourself, because in my mind that’s the only way that that change, necessary change can come if you look at stuff.”
Pretty inspiring stuff! Watch/Listen here
You Yes You