Says Merrill Garbus of interrogating her white privilege, “Shouldn’t I be the one doing this work?”
Tune-Yards’ last album, nikki nack, was released in 2014 — a year that feels eons away from our perch in 2018. Since then, there’s been a new president; a national spotlight on police violence against black people; and, most recently, a reckoning against sexual harassers in media, Hollywood, and government, and more. And through all of this, Tune-Yards singer and songwriter Merrill Garbus has been watching.
Her new pop record, I can feel you creep into my private life, out January 19, doesn’t dance around these cultural reckonings. On the album’s most striking song, “Colonizer,” Garbus sings with vitriol about her “white woman’s voice.” The record follows a similar theme: the world through the eyes of Garbus, a white woman from Connecticut who is painfully aware that her music draws from black and queer traditions.
The approach is simultaneously self-centered and self-aware, and Garbus says it’s the only viable route she sees to accurately representing her ingrained biases — and not misrepresenting anyone else. “As a white cisgendered woman in a heteronormative relationship, I’m pretty safe in this society,” she says. “Shouldn’t I be the one doing this work?”
Tune-Yards’s new album stretches their signature sound, both sonically and lyrically
Garbus’s music draws heavily from other influences: Haitian music, Afrobeat, Michael Jackson, ’80s pop, among others. Straddling the line between inspiration and cultural appropriation was a concern while making this record: “I’m a white woman taking music that comes from communities of color, queer communities, and I am — as so many musicians do — taking those influences and turning them into music that’s under my name.”
Garbus has transformed these influences into a sound that’s her own, though. Since the band’s inception, Read More Here