|New England native Merrill Garbus, better known as the mind behind Tune-Yards, became an indie sensation after piecing together the critically acclaimed album Bird-Brains. In her following releases, Garbus has developed a more polished studio sound while sticking to her eclectic roots, making Tune-Yards one of the most interesting indie acts today. With hits such as “Water Fountain,” “Hatari,” “Sunlight” and “Bizness,” Tune-Yards continues to push the limits of experimentation. Buy your Tune-Yards tickets now to see this one-of-a-kind indie treasure live!
Garbus was born and raised on the East Coast, eventually attending Smith College. Before working under the moniker Tune-Yards, she was a puppeteer for a theater company in Vermont and also performed with the band Sister Suvi. Putting together the first Tune-Yard album, Bird-Brains, was a big to-do. Without a label or band mates, Garbus had to capture different elements of each track on a Dictaphone. After this lengthy recording process, she assembled the tracks in GarageBand.
Bird-Brains was a breakout critical success, and in time was released on vinyl. Garbus also sold the album on the Tune-Yards website, adhering to the modern model of letting listeners decide how much they would pay for the download.
Rise to fame
In 2009, Garbus relocated to the West Coast, settling in Oakland, California. Soon she started working with bassist Nate Brenner, who co-wrote several of the songs on Tune-Yards’ second full-length album, Who Kill. This sophomore LP was released in 2011 and garnered Tune-Yards both a wider commercial audience and notable critical acclaim. The epitome of the album’s success is perhaps being named Village Voice’s Pazz & Jop poll album of the year. This industry accolade is decided by more than 700 of the most respected music critics in America and is proof that Tune-Yards’ perseverance and experimentation paid off.
Tune-Yards supported the album with extensive touring, leading Garbus to the decision to go on temporary hiatus. She took an extended trip to Haiti and her experiences there greatly shaped her upcoming work. After the duo took some time to relax, Tune-Yards returned to the studio for the full-length Nikki Nack, which featured help from producers Malay and John Hill. The album balanced out the insouciance and creativity for which Tune-Yards became loved, complemented by a polished sound. During this period, Tune-Yards also remixed two songs by Yoko Ono.
Of course, for as innovative as Garbus and Brenner are in the studio, Tune-Yards has found equal praise for its unique live performances. Without a backing band, Tune-Yards holds concerts in a similar fashion to how Garbus created her freshman album. After putting together drum loops, Garbus layers tracks on stage with ukulele, vocals and other elements, with Brenner accompanying her on bass all the while. In the past, Tune-Yards has toured with such acts as Dirty Projectors and Death Cab for Cutie. With distinct musicianship, bountiful creativity and fantastic showmanship, Tune-Yards continues to be one of the most interesting acts today.