Tune-Yards Talk


There's very little out there that come close to the same musical realm of tUnE-yArDs. Though I may not be in complete agreement with the cavalier attitude to capital letters, Merrill Garbus has a musical mind like no-one else and the track 'Water Fountain' has been completely unavoidable ever since it was released – not that you'd ever even dream of wanting to avoid it! This wonderfully blend of music, creativity and downright peculiarity is right up my street so naturally I jumped at the chance to fire over a few questions to one of the finest female figures in music;

How on earth did you end up with the tUnE-yArDs sound? There are so many things going on in every track that it all sounds so wonderfully peculiar.

Well, I think it's not ended yet… it keeps changing! I suppose it comes from the infinite number of musical styles that I absorb as I go about my life on the planet. 

Your music videos are suitably 'out there' – how important do you think having something so visually fascinating is in this age of shortening attention spans?

I've always been a visual person, I guess. From the start of tune-yards I was pretty controlling of the visual world of the project. I worked with my friend, Alex Chitty, on all the album covers and made my own video for one of the first singles we had, 'Real Live Flesh'. These days it's fun to follow through with certain inspirations; for instance, Pee-Wee's Playhouse was a big source of joy and creativity for me growing up, so we went back to that in a lot of the videos and images that accompanied Nikki Nack.

How's the Instagramming of every bit of plastic you use going?

You just reminded me to do it, thanks! In New York City, where I just came from, people use plastic like it's oxygen. It's amazing how the culture around you can influence your behavior; when I lived in Vermont, I felt shame when I used plastic. Maybe there ought to be a little more plasto-shaming in NYC.

What's the best non-instrumental sound you've ever come across on a record?

Non-instrumental could mean a slew of things… if you mean objects used as sounds, I'd have to say the cash register sound on MIA’s 'Paper Planes'. If you mean like a non-musical sound, probably the classroom scene audio from The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.

What's with the misplaced capitals? Have you no respect for the sanctity of grammar?

Absolutely none:::

Do your tunes bring all the boys to the yard or are people still more interested in milkshakes?

There are a remarkable amount of men who like “feminist world folk punk”.

So you studied puppet theatre – have you ever thought about creating your own version of The Muppet Show? Maybe something with a more adult humour?

You know, that's a good idea. I think The Muppet Show was quite adult, but if you're talking about LEWD humor, I generally have an aversion to puppet pornography.

Which non-dirty word do you think sounds most like it is unsuitable for children?


What can we expect to see from you at Field Day? Who are you most looking forward to catching a glimpse of?

We're gonna go wild because it's our last London show this tour!

Anything you'd like to add?


Catch Tune-Yards at this year's Field Day on Saturday 6th June.

Merill is also playing at Motion in Bristol the day after Field Day, more information here.