tUnE-yArDs: Time for some work

Garbus uses a lot of effects pedals to help her achieve tUnE-yArDs’ unique sound, 
but she usually sticks to playing a four-string ukulele most of the time.

Merrill Garbus never saw herself as a big star — never even wanted to be one. With her music popping up in cell phone commercials and performances on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” her fame under the band name tUnE-yArDs has grown even bigger with the release of her second album, “w h o k i l l.” We asked Garbus about handling fame, and her knack for strange typography.

This album has granted you even more media attention than your debut album. How do you feel about all the exposure? Is it surreal to hear your music used in ads on TV?

It has been a bit surreal, I suppose. The strangest was hearing an interview on NPR, which I listen to all the time, and to hear my music played on the radio. I think I’m generally embarrassed, but I’m trying to get better about that and just be proud of my accomplishments.

What do you want to do for a third album? Are you already writing? What kind of direction can we expect it to take?

I have written a couple of new songs … not sure yet what it will be like. I’m trying to expose myself to a lot of different styles of music so I can keep growing and challenging myself as a musician. The rhythms will be crazy!

What is the hardest thing from the album to recreate live?

It was all pretty hard, I guess. … As soon as we finished recording, it was time to try to rehearse them. I introduced a second looping pedal — and that created many more possibilities but also more risk and more need for rehearsal.

Do you get annoyed when people get the lower and upper case letters mixed up in the spelling of the band name?

Nope. Not at all. They can capitalize at will.


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