Yes In My Backyard is a semiweekly column showcasing MP3s from new and emerging local talent.
New York’s rumbling violin and guitar duo itsnotyouitsme create a doleful soundtrack for rainy days and crumbling cities. With just two men and an army of pedals, they cull the transcendent-yet-tangible indie-ambient of bands like Eluvium or Stars Of The Lid–maybe with just a little less access to Xanax. Their just-released EP Fallen Monuments (New Amsterdam Records), is a gorgeous drifter culled from two years of various live performances, showing their expansive sound at its most frail, instinctual, and unstable. The nine-minute epic “Vanity Stays My Hand” works like an especially swirly Arvo Pärt composition or a more cheerful version of Jonny Greenwood’s There Will Be Blood soundtrack–a slow-building torrential downpour of percussive plucks, hypnotic loops, and mournful violins. Don’t miss these guys play next Wednesday at the Abrons Art Center, backed up by New York’s own legendary Joshua Light Show–the same dude who did liquid-leaking wall projections for Joplin and Hendrix back in the day!
Download: itsnotyouitsme, “Vanity Stays My Hand”
What is “Vanity Stays My Hand” about?
Grey McMurray, guitar: That song is about struggling to be a good man.
Caleb Burhans, violin: It’s very much about striving to be the best person you can be and when you fail, not beating yourself up too much.
What inspired it?
McMurray: The inspiration for all of our music is our lives, respectively and together. We try very hard to keep the fundamental inspiration extra-musical so as to allow for the most sincere, unstylized offering we can muster.
Burhans: With this album, we wanted to put out recordings from live concerts and a documentary that we scored. A lot of the tunes are things that we’ll never play again, so we wanted to get those out there as part of a two-year retrospective.
Do you see things when you play or compose?
McMurray: Sometimes very vivid things. Most of the time though, the music stops/replaces everything going on in my head. That’s why/how it helps me be alive.
Burhans: For me, the sounds we create are all I see when I’m in the throes of music making. I rarely have images in mind when writing. Often times important memories pop up in my mind while playing, usually pertaining to friends and family, which is often motivation for a lot of the music we create together.
When did you start playing violin?
Burhans: I started playing violin when I was 10. I didn’t really hear much ambient music or post-rock til I was 17 or so, and by that point I was already playing jazz and metal on my violin.
When did you start using it for ambient music?
Burhans: Grey and I started playing violin in a band called Dialects in 2001 and that was the first time, I suppose. The group was highly influenced by Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Múm, Sigur Rós, Stars of the Lid, Brian Eno and King Crimson, so a lot of those sonic ideas made it into our music.
What are the benefits and drawbacks of playing ambient music in such a noisy city?
McMurray: The benefit is the helpful reminder of the wary calmness underneath. The drawback is the reminder that quiet open places exist.
Burhans: I love spending time by myself in loud bars. Somehow I always find it very calming and peaceful. I find playing our music here in the city is very much like that. It’s a calm place you can always go.
What’s the most memorable show you’ve ever played in New York?
McMurray: This past winter we played on WNYC during a blizzard. We were on the 11th floor or something. It was farther up than I normally am when I play music with people listening. It felt unsteady and meaningful. Basically what I hope for from most experiences.
Burhans: A couple years ago we played for the East River Music Project, which was in an outside amphitheatre on the East River in Manhattan. You could see boats behind us and planes above us. It was kinda great.
What’s your favorite place to eat in New York?
McMurray: The Farm on Adderley.
Burhans: Thunder Jackson’s on Bleeker.
itsnotyouitsme play with Steve Moore, accompanied by the Joshua Light Show at Abrons Art Center on Wednesday, May 12.
Are you an emerging local band who has an upcoming 7″, MP3, or album? Are you not totally fucking terrible like 90% of the bands in this city? Then please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Links and YSIs only. No attachments please!