8 QUESTIONS WITH: THE MYNABIRDS
Earlier today, I chatted with Laura Burhenn. Here’s our full exchange:
1. How would you describe The Mynabirds in twenty words or less?
A little bit soul, gospel, garage and country, catching the spirit of the original Mynah Birds and nodding to Dusty Springfield. (The hardest question.)
2. What’s the inspiration behind the LP’s title and lead-off track?
After Georgie James broke up, I wasn’t quite sure how to react, how to pick up the pieces. But instead of sitting in a heap and feeling sorry for myself or dwelling on the loss, I started looking to books, music and friends to pick me back up. Life is a series of slight disasters followed by incredibly generous good fortune. It all follows this grand cycle of ebb and flow. So the album title, What We Lose In The Fire We Gain In The Flood, is really about that – about loss and recovery and how we recover from our losses and move on. And the title track (insert serendipitous nod to John’s new band, Title Tracks) is about learning from fleeting experiences, from people who come in and out of our lives for a minute here or there – learning to find the reason it happened – and why it was good. You can’t get here without having been there. Lyrically, the album follows a bit of a Zen trajectory. So when that line came to me (“what we lose in the fire we gain in the flood”), it sounded like an ancient eastern proverb. I thought I’d stolen it from somewhere. But according to the internet (which is always right), it’s not been said yet. I like the idea of it feeling found, which also relates a bit to the sound of the record – something new, but also familiar and comforting – like that new friend you just found that you feel like you’ve known your whole life.
Read the remainder of this interview AFTER THE JUMP…
3. You worked with Richard Swift on this release. How’d that go?
Richard is a brilliant musician with an incredible library of sounds and records filed away in his studio and in his brain – and he is also incredibly kind. We had an amazing time making the record. There was a heat wave rolling through the Pacific Northwest when we were making the record last summer (temperatures well above 100 most days), which helps paint the scene. We holed up in his Oregon studio and recorded all day and into the night. When we tired of recording the Mynabirds songs for the day, we had our own self-DJed dance parties. We drank whiskey and these inventions Richard calls “Coca-Quilas” and danced to James Brown and Buffy Sainte-Marie. I’d been a fan of Richard’s music since I first heard “Dressed Up For The Letdown”. When I started writing these soul-tinged songs, I knew he was the person I absolutely had to work with. I’ve gotta say, my intuition served me well. He knew exactly what I was hoping to achieve. He’d suggest a bass line or a back beat for a song and he was always spot on.
4. Can you kindly list a few other dream collaborators?
I’d love to do a duet with Sharon Jones. Actually, I’d be happy to have a drink with her and learn a few of her moves (have you ever seen her live? incredible!). If it’d ever be an option to work with Lou Reed or David Byrne (or both together), I’d die a very happy woman. Other than that, there are tons of others. I really love collaborating. It stretches your soul.
5. Will your live show be a solo affair or will it feature a full band?
I’m playing with a full live band these days: four other amazing players, including the incredible vocal backings of Pearl Lovejoy Boyd who was recommended to me by Orenda Fink after having sung on her last solo album. The live sound is more garage-y than the record, which I’m having fun with. Maybe sometime soon we’ll have the full, flushed-out sound live (horns, strings and all). But since we’re just starting out, it doesn’t make sense to take eight people on the road. It’s been fun to push the songs in another direction anyway. I really love to see a band live and get a different experience than the record. I hope other people appreciate that, too.
6. Who are you currently listening to?
I’ve been listening to a lot of what Daptone Records is putting out in addition to pulling some old favorites from the record shelves: T. Rex, Bobbie Gentry, Dr. Dog, The Kinks. I’ve been really into the new Beach House record and am looking forward to more listens of the new Yeasayer and Love Is All.
7. What are your plans & goals for 2010?
Touring. A lot. The record is slated to come out in Europe in June, so I’m hoping we’ll make it over the Atlantic after some extensive US/Canadian touring this summer and early fall. We’ve been working on some fun videos (including one for “Numbers Don’t Lie” directed by the illustrious Alan Tanner), which will be out for your viewing pleasure in the near future. We’ll definitely be in NYC for CMJ and certainly well before then for some shows here and there. We’re still sorting out summer touring plans, but it looks like we’ll be in NYC in early June. Very much looking forward to it.
8. Are there any misconceptions that you’d like to clear up?
What do people even think?? I’d have to know what the conceptions are to know if they’re “mis” or not. If you’ve got any good dirt, I’m all ears. It’s always good for a laugh to hear a fun bit of gossip!