“There’s a punkrock spirit where you don’t have to be pretty, and nei­ther does your mu­sic. It’s some­thing I value about the genre I’m in”

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Music -

The were heav­ily vo­cal. There’s no doubt th­ese col­lab­o­ra­tive work­outs not only en­cour­aged her to ex­per­i­ment with sound, but have shaped and moulded her voice. And it’s that voice that has caused the su­perla­tives to fly. Rang­ing from feral to Ama­zo­nian, part ul­u­la­tion, part punk siren, it is the cen­tral cog in her DIY mu­si­cal aes­thetic.

The tape-hiss feel to the songs is a fun­da­men­tal el­e­ment of the tUnE­yArds sound. It’s what marks it out from over-pol­ished pop and it’s one of the rea­sons Gar­bus thinks peo­ple like what she does. If pup­petry has in­flu­enced her phys­i­cal ap­proach to per­for­mance, there is a vast bedrock of sound un­der the sur­face of her songs. She thinks of the songs as pop and hopes the world “will see be­yond the lo-fi na­ture of it”.

Given the broad pal­ette of in­flu­ences on the record, it might sound sur­pris­ing to hear Gar­bus so unashamedly plant­ing a flag in pop ter­ri­tory. “My fo­cus is on bend­ing the def­i­ni­tion of the pop genre. When I started mak­ing mu­sic, it was an avant-garde folk thing be­cause I was play­ing ukulele, but now – in my mind, any­way – the tUnE­yArDs al­bums are pop. I adore Bey­oncé, Cyndi Lau­per and Michael Jack­son. They’re amaz­ingly in­spi­ra­tional fig­ures in a genre that is pooh-poohed be­cause of it ac­ces­si­bil­ity. Peo­ple are al­ways sur­prised when I cite Woody Guthrie as an in­flu­ence, but it’s that

Mer­rill Gar­bus, aka tUnE-yArDs: “It made me re­alise it was the songs that had the power”

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