Arts, Culture & Media

tUnE yArDs music is all over the global map

The latest CD by tUnE yArDs, Nikki Nack, includes music from various instrumentalists. But the anchor is Merrill Garbus.

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These days, lots of American artists are drawn to global sounds. But Garbus has been absorbing them for many years.

"I guess my interest in African music really got started when I was around 10 years old," she says. That's when her aunt and uncle spent a year in Kenya, and so began Garbus' interest in music from all over the continent. It subsequently informed the direction she wanted to take when she became a professional musician. 

But it wasn't just Africa that influenced her, it was music from all over the globe. Garbus figures in another life she'll be an enthomusicialogist.

"It's important for me not to drive my music from one type of music," she says.

Among her influences is a trip she took to Haiti with her drum teacher, Daniel Brevil, who is a master Haitian drummer based in northern California. During the trip they went to vodou rituals and "drummed for days and days and days."

Despite all the different rythms and beats Garbus takes in, she feels her voice is the access point to everything — from the Republic of Georgia to pygmies in central Africa. She calls her voice "a pathway into music from around the world."

In this song, Bizness, you can hear the Janis Joplin-like energy Garbus puts out in a performance.