ACL Music Fest 2014 Saturday Interviews
3:30pm, RetailMeNot stage
On her third album, May's Nikki Nack, Merrill Garbus takes you on a Tilt-A-Whirl of nursery rhymes and hand claps. Don't let that playful nature throw you, though. Tune-Yards has a dark side.
"There's that danger of it being cutesy," admits the native New Englander. "It's interesting because I've had a lot of parents say to me, 'Oh, my 2-year-old really bounces around the room to "Water Fountain."'"
Tunes with imagery of blood-soaked dollars, detailed on "Water Fountain," don't seem toddler appropriate and the song's author agrees.
"Yeah! I know. What are you letting your kids listen to?! But it's awesome, too."
Garbus drew the double-dutch aesthetic that runs throughout Nikki Nack from her love of children's entertainment. Utilizing morbidity to her advantage, she married joyous melodies with heavy prose.
"To me, children's art, really good children's art like Grimm's fairy tales and Roald Dahl and Pee-wee's Playhouse, which we referenced a lot in this album, combines these really childlike things with very dark and meaningful things. That's so exciting to me. You're hearing this nursery rhyme and it's about eating children."
This coat of many colors gets the weighty message across, but the messenger isn't afraid to have fun along the way.
"The vehicle lets you feel something different instead of being like, 'Life's so bad, and we're destroying our future generations,' which I could write a song about for sure. The difference is having it come in a neat little package where you're wondering what's happening. Then, you're like, 'Wait a second.' The heaviness hits you in a more powerful way, I think."