Tune-Yards

Forgive me for a moment while I shamelessly plug my amazing cousin Merrill, AKA the brilliant mastermind behind Tune-Yards.

I took this picture in Chicago - May 2011

She has been plugging away for a few years, and 2011 seems to have been a great one for her. She released her second album, w h o k i l l earlier this year and it is doing very well! She has traveled extensively across America and the world, selling out shows all over. It’s incredibly exciting to watch her fan base grow from small shows to sold out venues.

Earlier this year she even performed on the Jimmy Fallon show. She was supposed to do the David Letterman show this month but she’s been under the weather. However, she’s scheduled to perform on Jimmy Kimmel in January!  I just can’t get over it. I’m ready to quit my day job and become her groupie!  My husband, cousin, and best friend did chase her down three or four blocks in Nashville, TN once, so I think I have good practice at being her groupie…

Merrill starts her songs by looping a drum beat and then adding vocal loops, ukulele, and bass played by her boyfriend Nate. Although Tune-Yards isn’t exactly mainstream music, she has been getting amazing reviews from very reputable sources – Rolling Stone and The New Yorker to name a couple.

Recently Time Magazine released their list of top 10’s for the year. w h o k i l l came in at #6! Time also listed the single “Gangsta” as the #6 song of the year. Rolling Stone released their top 50 albums of the year, and Tune-Yards came in at #13, while the first single from the album, “Bizness”, was listed as #32 from the top 50 singles of the year.

4 star review in Rolling Stone magazine!

Her songs have been featured on TV as well. “Fiya”, from her first album Bird-Brains was used in a Blackberry commercial. And along with being Time’s #6 song of the year, “Gangsta” has been in an episode of the show Weeds and also The Good Wife.

I once  read a review somewhere (and I’m sorry, I can’t remember where) that said something along the lines that a first listen of Tune-Yards may seem like too much noise at once, but listen to it again and again and it will start to sound like something that belongs on the radio. I completely agree with this. While the songs are full of different loops and layers that it might feel like too much, but listen to it a second time – it will all start to make sense.

Here are a couple of videos. The first is the official video for “Bizness”. The second is a live video of “Gangsta” – it’s so fun watching her build her song out of loops of drums and her voice! If you feel in the mood to search for more songs, some of my favorites are “Real Live Flesh” and “Powa”.


I know one thing is for sure, being completely amazing and making funny faces is something that definitely runs in the family!

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5 thoughts on “Tune-Yards

  1. Your cousin seems like a very interesting woman! Do you know what her inspiration for her Bizness video was? Thanks for sharing about her and congratulations to her on her success 🙂

    • Thank you! She is so interesting! She’s completely humble too. I drove NINE hours to see her in Chicago and the place was sold out – and the crowd was singing along to every word. I think she wasn’t quite sure how to take it and she got choked up when she was thanking the audience. It was really cute, and refreshing to see someone working hard and it actually paying off.

      I honestly didn’t know what the inspiration for the video was, but I found this interesting interview with the director of the video — http://www.baycitizen.org/blogs/culturefeed/making-tune-yards-bizness-video-mimi/

      I can’t wait to see her on Jimmy Kimmel. when her parent’s told me she was going to be on Jimmy Fallon I almost fell out of my chair. And TIME MAGAZINE?!?!?!? holy cow, I just can’t get over it….

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