In this week’s Coachella Primer, we call your attention to tUnE-yArDs, who will be taking the stage on Day 2 of the festival. The Oakland-based duo, composed of Merrill Garbus and Nate Brenner, create rich, exuberant music at their shows – literally, building songs at performances from scratch. More on tUnE-yArDs carefully crafted cacophonies after the jump.
While tUnE-yArDs’ style is often classified as “lo-fi”, doing so fails to give the the band credit for the sophisticated musical works they create. Garbus develops rhythms using anything and everything from foot steps to crashing waves. Incorporating intense vocals, horns, and a healthy dose of humor, tUnE-yArDs create complex tracks marked by hip hop and even tribal influences, stemming from time Garbus spent studying abroad in Kenya and Tamu, an island off the coast of East Africa.
Originally consisting solely of Merrill Garbus, tUnE-yArDs’ first tracks were created in 2009 on a voice recorder and mixed with free audio software. The creative capitalization of “tUnE-yArDs” and that first album, BiRd-BrAiNs, hails from Garbus efforts to capture peoples’ attention to the songs she posted on MySpace. The typography of their second album, w h o k i l l, is a commentary about the poetic chaos perpetuated by how people communicate in texts and emails. For that matter, poetic chaos aptly describes the band’s music and their live show.
Garbus, a former theatrical artist from New England, did not lose her sense of drama when she left the theater. With a looping pedal, ukulele, floor tom, snare drum and “other electronic toys” arrayed around her onstage, Garbus re-creates tracks by building loops of sounds from hoots, hollers, yodels and scratches. With Brenner providing bass in the background, what results are complex and quirky tunes that draw you in much like a bright shiny toy with lots of mysterious colorful parts. Don’t miss the band on Saturday at Coachella, when they promise to play an incredible set. If you can’t make it to the festival (or even if you do) you can still catch tUnE-yArDs at the Glass House in Pomona on April 19th or at the Fox Theater in Oakland on April 24th.