When it comes to a collaborative project, creative minds don't always mesh: whether it's clashing styles or the enigmatic "creative differences," there always seems to be a reason for opposites to reject. It's our pleasure to report that Thao Nguyen, of Thao & The Get Down Stay Down, and Mirah Yom Tov Zeitlyn, of her mononymous veteran solo career, work together just fine. Their new album, self-titled Thao & Mirah, arrived last week, and it sounds like a cohesive bond of distinct styles, gelling together in perfect harmonious balance.
The result is more of a melting pot than a split album, but still skewing towards each artist's strengths. The collaboration wasn't so much that they melded their minds in a bomb shelter-type hole-up, but a more laxgenerative process, braced by the authoritative production of tUnE-yArDs' Merill Garbus. "We would say, 'Here's another workday: you're going on the roof, I'm going to the beach,'" says Mirah. "It's not necessarily that we co-authored the songs, but because of the way we were working, they just wouldn't have happened without each other."
We could probably stretch a metaphor between their contrasting styles and songwriting locations. Thao is more offbeat and whimsical like hanging out on the roof, and Mirah is more emotive and soft like laying out in the sand at the beach. Thao in particular uses the side project as achance to stretch her folksier roots. "The songs I wrote for this record were a chance to not be in a rock band," says Thao."And I love The Get Down Stay Down, but I could be a folk singer with Mirah, and also, play drums, and hit a lot."
The two have just embarked their post-release tour, continuing tomorrow night in Bellingham, Washington with The New Pornographers. Both say they've been too busy to talk about a potential future for the side project, so maybe it's best to treat it like your one and only chance to see them do their thing. Listen to "Eleven," the exceptionally Garbus-sounding single, below: