Dirty Projectors play tonight at Showbox Market. Singer/guitarist Amber Coffman spoke for a moment. She was a bit road weary, and her voice was a bit worn. I implored her to gargle some salt, and take a nap.
How did your benefit collaboration with Björk come about a while back?
Coffman: A friend of ours, a writer, was putting together a benefit show for Housing Works in New York, a nonprofit fighting AIDS, that provides shelter for homeless. He had the idea for us to collaborate with Björk. Dave (Longstreth, Dirty Projectors’ singer/guitarist/song writer) wrote a piece for us to play in a week. The following week, we rehearsed it. We got a couple rehearsals in with Björk for the show. The music was so cool and crazy. We had actually met Bjork previously. The show was such a special thing, we thought we should record the music. So the following Spring we all went into a studio, and did it pretty much live.
How was Björk in the studio? Was she how you thought she’d be? Was she Björk-ish?
[Laughs] I didn’t have so many preconceived thoughts of her. We watched her do some of her takes. She’s incredibly professional. She’s a perfect singer. It was amazing to watch her work.
For your recent album, Swing Lo Magellan, Dirty Projectors spent twelve months in a house in the seclusion of Delaware, County outside NY recording and writing. What’s Delaware County like?
It’s almost a four-hour drive from New York City. It’s quiet. Dave was up there working by himself lots of the time. Going from New York to a place where there’s no cell service, where it’s twenty or thirty degrees cooler, it definitely put us in a separate head-space. Going between the grid of the city to the calm of a place in the woods, it breaks you into another mindset.
How was recording in the house as opposed to a studio?
When you’re in a recording studio, you’re paying for the time. But it’s hard to put a timeline on something that you’re not even sure what it’s going to end up as. Being in the house, and not having to be so conscious of paying for every minute there gave the process a different space and time to let it become what it needed to become. I think the album is looser, in a good way because of it. When you’re in the studio, everything comes out so polished. There’s a character with this album that’s the character of the house.
A huge amount of material was generated over that year for you all. You were working with 70 songs?
Something like that. Dave had five or six groups of 10 or 12 songs he had written. Skeletons of songs, and parts. [Laughs] There’s a lot of songs that people haven’t heard. A couple of the songs we just put out as a tour only 7-inch that we give away. One of the songs is “Buckle Up.”