West Coast’s Audio Commons
Yours Truly represents a musical ecosystem in San Francisco. The Founders, William Abramson, Nate Chan, Caleb Morairty and Babak Khoshnoud, along with their community, recently celebrated 3 years of creating well-crafted documentary style music videos that capture intimate moments with their talented featured artists.
Their common space is shared by writers, cinematographers, photographers, designers, editors, bloggers, dj’s, and fans–breaking down of barriers between disciplines and backgrounds. Often the final results are more than just bands performing and pressing records. Below is a playlist that Yours Truly has put together from their continually expanding catalog.
By now, you’ve probably heard of Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings who have been accredited for the recent revival of 60’s, 70’s style funk, soul music injected into modern radio playlists. Jones was first discovered while singing backup for Deep Funk legend Lee Fields and the Soul Providers. On this recording session with Yours Truly at Different Fur Studios, Fields, backed by The Expressions, shakes the earth with his performance of Faithful Man, the title track from his latest LP available via Truth and Soul Records.
In this next video, LA-based experimental songbird Julia Holter strips down Moni Mon Amie, a song from her sophomore album Ekstasis, transporting its listeners into a classy French hotel bar or a scene in a foreign independent film.
In the first official collaboration with Texas-based music blog Gorilla vs. Bear, the two websites were able to get Ish and Tendai from Seattle’s Shabazz Palaces into Dallas, TX’s Tomcast Studios on one of the hottest days in the city’s history. The group was in town for the GvsB Fest, and performed an eerie, futuristic rendition of The King’s New Clothes Were Made by His Own Hands, from their album Black Up (Sub Pop).
tUnE-yArDs a.k.a. Merrill Garbus and bassist Nate Brenner returned to Oakland, CA’s New, Improved Studios with Owner and Engineer Eli Crews who assisted with the production of w h o k i l l, last year’s breakout album with 4AD. Get an up-close look at the technique and precision of loops used by Garbus at each of her public performances and in-studio sessions to recreate her song You Yes You.
Watching tUnE-yArDs build songs from scratch, may take away a bit of the mystique from Grimes’ mostly pre-recorded Yours Truly session. However, it absolutely takes nothing away from her child-like mesmerizing, angelic vocals for Genesis from her most enjoyable album Visions (4AD). Those beats are still perfect for letting loose and dancing alone in your room or on the dance floor with plenty of others.
For their Phil Spector-inspired, wall-of-sound session, The Morning Benders (who have recently changed their band name to POP ETC) invited their local area music pals, who happen to be some of the Bay Area’s most notable rising artists like Girls and John Vanderslice, to pile into the studio and perform the band’s old timey, doo wop style ditty Excuses, from their LP Big Echo. It’s simply quite magical.
Rappers’ stories are somewhat clandestine. Maybe it’s their all or nothing tales about life on the street. Whatever it is, Yours Truly always seems to have some of their best real life documentary moments when talking to them about their past. In this video, Yelawolf reflects on his misspent youth and the moment he was ready to change his ways and make something of himself. The listeners get a rare taste of what might be taken for granted with the singer-songwriter genre – the artist, his lyrics, and a lone instrument (piano). It’s hard to deny that Yelawolf doesn’t have the gift of performing lyrical gymnastics after this rendition of unreleased The Boy Who Cried Wolf.
Oh, Naoko from the LP Nocturne of Exploded Crystal Chandelier (Dead Oceans) is one of the first songs (if not the first) to hit the Internet from Philly’s Sun Airway. As you’ll hear in the interview segment of this session, frontman Jon Barthmus states how the album version of the song is more “atmospheric” and “the mark of a kind of a good song is that you can break it down and do it a number of ways and have it still sound good and have it still sound like it’s the way the song was meant to be recorded.” This “countrified” version of Oh, Naoko still sounds good.
While R. Kelly’s lyrics tend to make us cringe, Brooklyn-based How to Dress Well a.k.a. Tom Krell does perform a stirring cover of I Wish, which was dedicated to his best friend who had passed way.
Female singing trio Mountain Man certainly demonstrates their vocal prowess performing their song Mouthwings, which appears on Made The Harbor (Partisan Records), a cappella while holding hands in a tunnel on Hawk Hill in San Fransisco.
The stellar work that Yours Truly does is evident with their audio recordings. In their session with Canadian folk sing-songwriter Basia Bulat, she premieres a new song It Can’t Be You. It is difficult not to be fixated on the use of negative space in the shot of the breathtaking open sky.
“You know how John Lennon died. I’m going to die like that. And I already know who this kid is.” That is the first statement heard in the footage with one of the most controversial figures in music today, Tyler, The Creator. Is it the usual prideful boasting from the outspoken emcee comparing himself to such a rock ‘n’ roll legend? You soon learn what it was like Growing Up Goblin and that his actual childhood story is much like many musicians throughout history – a lot of time spent alone and a genuine love for music. And in the end, Tyler is going to end up making the music that he wants.
When Yours Truly invited Toro y Moi a.k.a. Chaz Bundick to Different Fur Studios, they had him re-create from the ground up You Hid, which appears on his LP Causers of This (Carpark). What becomes apparent in this session is that the “chillwaver” Bundick is a gifted musician as he plays all the instruments.
The video with rapper Freddie Gibbs was truly an insightful piece about the artist’s lesser known background in his hometown of Gary, Indiana. This is the unique quality of Yours Truly’s work where the segment becomes more than just about his performance of Born 2 Roll from Str8 Killa No Filla (Decon Records/Gibbs Family). Stellar job!
Australia’s Tame Impala are definitely one of the rising torchbearers of modern day psychedelic rock. For their Yours Truly session, instead of the usual taking of a band a bit out of their comfort zone, the site decided to place the heady jams of Why Don’t You Make Up Your Mind? from the album Innerspeaker (Modular Recordings) into its somewhat natural environment outdoors at Camp Nowhere, CA.
Little Dragon blew audiences away with their debut television performance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. The level of admiration for their performance of Little Man from Ritual Union (Peacefrog Records) with Yours Truly’s cultural contribution is at par. The beauty of Yukimi Nagano’s vocals and the passion in which she delivers them is awe-inspiring. Meshed with the band’s deep grooves, making Little Dragon’s sound a winning combination destined for bigger and better things. Also, to watch the rest of the group mesmerized by bandmate Håkan Wirenstrand’s keyboard work at the end of the video leaves a warm feeling about the band’s respect for each others’ musical craft.
With Vetiver’s Andy Cabin and Fruit Bats’ Eric D. Johnson, a little lesson in music history is given with their cover of Bobby Charles’ I Must Be In a Good Place as well as some pretty nature shots to go with the mood of the song and the surroundings of where their recording was made.
Oh man, Holly Miranda (formerly of The Jealous Girlfriends) has one of the most heartbreakingly soulful voices in music today. The cover of I’d Rather Go Blind is a beautiful homage to the late, great Etta James. This deserves another listen.
In one of Yours Truly earlier sessions, Spanish alt dance outfit Delorean brought the site into their home studio in Barcelona for a recording of Grow, which eventually made an appearance on their album Subiza (True Panther Sounds). This specific video caught the attention of Chromeo inspiring them to request their publicist to reach out to the site.
Chicago’s math-rockers Maps & Atlases team up with the Willie Brown Bears drum line to perform The Charm from Perch Patchwork (Barsuk Records) in a classroom, which is definitely not something that you get to see or hear everyday. And the look on the students faces like “who are these scruffy homeless dudes that we are jamming with” is priceless.
Closing out Yours Truly’s playlist is their collaboration with Pitchfork where Local Natives perform Airplanes, which appears on Gorilla Manor (Frenchkiss/Infectious), on railroad tracks outside Chicago. What is not visible is how the Yours Truly crew botched the mugging of female victim below the tracks. With what they do for the indie music community, it is not surprising to learn that they are also crime fighting, good Samaritans.
3557 23rd street