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tUnE-yArDs on Wikipedia
Garbus smiling with make-up on her face, hitting a tambourineGarbus performing at Café de la Danse in Paris, France, on June 2, 2011
Background information
OriginNew England, United States
GenresArt-pop,[1] worldbeat, indie pop, lo-fi, folk, afrobeat, R&B
Years active2006–present
Labels4AD, Marriage
Associated actsSister Suvi, Beep, Dirty Projectors, Naytronix
MembersMerrill Garbus
Nate Brenner

Tune-Yards (stylized as tUnE-yArDs)[2] is the music project of New England native Merrill Garbus. When performing live, Garbus creates drum loops on the spot and layers these with ukulele and vocals, in addition to electric bass played by Nate Brenner.[3]


  • 1 History and work
  • 2 Members
  • 3 Discography
    • 3.1 Studio albums
    • 3.2 EPs
    • 3.3 Singles
    • 3.4 Guest appearances
    • 3.5 Productions
    • 3.6 Compilation appearances
  • 4 References
  • 5 External links

History and work

Garbus was born in 1979 and was raised in New York City and in New Canaan, Connecticut.[4][5] She attended Smith College. She was a puppeteer for the Sandglass Theater in Vermont[6] and lived in Montreal where she played ukulele in the band Sister Suvi with guitarist Patrick Gregoire and drummer Nico Dann.[7][8] Merrill's sister Ruth Garbus is also a musician who has played solo and in the band Happy Birthday.[9] After releasing her first Tune-Yards album in 2009, she moved to Oakland, California, where her partner in Tune-Yards, Nate Brenner, also lives.[5][6]

The first Tune-Yards album, Bird-Brains (stylized as BiRd-BrAiNs) was originally self-released by Garbus on recycled cassette tape. It was recorded using only a handheld voice recorder.[10] A limited edition vinyl was released in June 2009, via the Portland-based imprint Marriage Records.[11] In July 2009, it was announced that Tune-Yards had signed to 4AD, and a limited edition pressing of Bird-Brains was released on August 17, 2009.[12] A full worldwide release followed on November 16, 2009 (and November 17 in North America). The autumn 2009 pressing was remastered at Abbey Road Studios by Christian Wright, and includes two new bonus tracks: "Want Me To" and "Real Live Flesh."

A second album, Whokill (stylized as W H O K I L L), was released on April 19, 2011.[13] A single from it, "Bizness", came out in February 2011. It was produced by Garbus and engineered by Eli Crews at New, Improved Studios in Oakland, California. Applying the live approach to Garbus' studio work for the first time, Garbus works with bass player Nate Brenner, who co-wrote some of the album's songs. Comparing the act to Sonic Youth, Frontier Psychiatrist said, "if Bird-Brains was Garbus' Evol, a record bursting with musical ideas that attempted to subvert the notion of song, who kill is Garbus' Sister, a record that embraces the traditional pop song as a vehicle to convey those ideas."[14][15] The album as well as singles "Bizness" and "Gangsta" received mention on many top 2011 album and song lists, including Time,[16][17] Rolling Stone,[18][19] Spin,[20] and the New York Times.[21] In early 2012, the Village Voice's annual "Pazz and Jop" poll of critics named Whokill the No. 1 album of 2011.[22] The song "Fiya" is featured on a 2010 commercial for the Blackberry Torch, while the song "Gangsta" has been used in the television shows Orange Is the New Black, Weeds and The Good Wife and the song "Bizness" was used in Season 3 of Transparent.

Garbus started recording material for her third LP during the latter half of 2013, with a working title of Sink-o.[23] A May 6, 2014 release date was later announced with the title Nikki Nack.[24]


  • Merrill Garbus – vocals, ukulele, percussion (2006–present)
  • Nate Brenner – bass guitar (2009–present)
Touring members
  • Noah Bernstein – saxophone (whokill tour)
  • Haley Dekle - percussion, vocals (Nikki Nack tour)
  • Kasey Knudsen – saxophone (whokill tour)
  • Jo Lampert – vocals (Nikki Nack tour)
  • Dani Markham – percussion, vocals (Nikki Nack tour)
  • Matt Nelson – saxophone (whokill tour)
  • Abigail Nessen-Bengson – vocals (Nikki Nack tour)
  • Moira Smiley – vocals (Nikki Nack tour)


  • Bird-Droppings (November 3, 2009, 4AD, EAD2938) U.S.-only download EP


  • "Sunlight" (August 2009, 4AD) promo-only CD-R
  • "Hatari" (November 2, 2009, 4AD, AD2934) 7" vinyl and download
  • "Real Live Flesh" (February 8, 2010, 4AD, AD3X11) 7" vinyl and download
  • "Bizness" (February 11, 2011, 4AD)
  • "Water Fountain" (March 18, 2014, 4AD)

Guest appearances

  • Citay – "Mirror Kisses" from Dream Get Together (January 26, 2010, Dead Oceans)
  • Afuche – "Danice Marino" from Highly Publicized Digital Boxing Match (May 21, 2011, Cuneiform Records)
  • Elephant & Castle – "En Memoria" from Transitions (March 27, 2012, Plug Research)
  • Preservation Hall Jazz Band – "Careless Love" from St. Peter & 57th St. (September 25, 2012, Rounder Records)
  • The Blind Boys of Alabama – "I've Been Searching" from I'll Find a Way (October 1, 2013, Sony Masterworks)


  • Thao & Mirah – Thao + Mirah (April 26, 2011, Kill Rock Stars)
  • Latyrx – "Deliberate Jibberish" and "Watershed Moment" from The Second Album (November 5, 2013, Latyramid)
  • Thao & the Get Down Stay Down – A Man Alive (March 4, 2016, Ribbon Music)
  • Sonny & the Sunsets - Moods Baby Boods (May 27, 2016, Polyvinyl)

Compilation appearances

  • "Powa" from 4AD Sessions 2008–2011 (September 20, 2011, 4AD)
  • "Bizness" from Modern Songbirds: The Most Incredible Female Singers (April 20, 2012, EMI)
  • "Bizness" from Studio Brussel Selected Live Sessions (April 21, 2012, Studio Brussel)
  • "Lady" from Red Hot + Fela (June 1, 2012, Knitting Factory Records)
  • "Riotriot" from Rough Trade Shops: Green Man '12 (July 30, 2012, Rough Trade Records)


  1. ^ Hudson, Alex. ""Water Fountain" (live on 'Fallon')". Exclaim!. Retrieved 28 October 2016. 
  2. ^ "World of Wonder: How Merrill Garbus left the theatre and took the stage.". The New Yorker. May 2, 2011. 
  3. ^ Caramanica, Jon (October 8, 2009). "New York Times Music Review: Putting it Together". nytimes.com. Retrieved October 7, 2009. 
  4. ^ Hazel Sheffield, "Interview: tUnE-yArDs. The decidedly non-bird-brained tUnE-yArDs is searching for freedom in her own back garden." The Stool Pigeon, May 9, 2011.
  5. ^ a b Mark Richardson, "Interviews: tUnE-yArDs", Pitchfork, April 25, 2011.
  6. ^ a b Byard Duncan, "Merrill Garbus' Road to Fame", The Bay Citizen, April 20, 2012.
  7. ^ Chris Dahlen, "Sister Suvi: Now I Am Champion" (review), Pitchfork, July 7, 2009.
  8. ^ Charlotte Richardson Andrews, "Tune-Yards' Merrill Garbus on life after lo-fi", The Guardian, April 7, 2011.
  9. ^ Bevan, David (2010-03-17). "Happy Birthday: Happy Birthday". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2016-05-25. 
  10. ^ "Ink19 Tune-Yards: Master of Puppets". ink19.com. Retrieved May 1, 2009. 
  11. ^ "Tune-Yards – Bird-Brains (LP) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved February 2, 2010. 
  12. ^ "Tune-Yards – Bird-Brains (CD, Album, Lim) at Discogs". Discogs.com. August 9, 2009. Retrieved February 2, 2010. 
  13. ^ "tUnE-yArDs official website". Tune-yards.com. Retrieved April 17, 2011. 
  14. ^ "What's A Girl To Do?: A Review of tUnE-yArDs' w h o k i l l". Frontier Psychiatrist. April 11, 2011. Retrieved April 11, 2011. 
  15. ^ "On tUnE-YarDs, Chuck Klosterman and the End of the High Fidelity Era of Music Criticism". The L Magazine. Retrieved 17 June 2013. 
  16. ^ "Time Magazine Top 10 albums of 2011 (#6)". Time.com. December 7, 2011. 
  17. ^ "Time Magazine Top 10 Songs of 2011 (#6)". Time.com. December 7, 2011. 
  18. ^ "Rolling Stone 50 Best Albums of 2011 (#13)". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2016-12-12. 
  19. ^ "Rolling Stone 50 Best Singles of 2011 (#32)". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2016-12-12. 
  20. ^ "Spin Magazine Top 50 Albums of 2011 (#30)". Spin.com. Retrieved 2016-12-12. 
  21. ^ Pareles, Jon (December 15, 2011). "The New York Times Top 10 Pop Albums of 2011 (#7)". The New York Times. 
  22. ^ "Village Voice Pazz + Jop 2011 Albums". Villagevoice.com. Retrieved 2016-12-12. 
  23. ^ "tUnE-yArDs' Merrill Garbus writing 'chaotic' new album 'Sink-o'". NME. June 6, 2013. Retrieved August 14, 2013. 
  24. ^ Hogan, Marc. "tUnE-yArDs Teases 'Nikki Nack' LP With Deliriously Anarchic Megamix". SPIN. Retrieved 3 March 2014. 
  25. ^ "Chart Stats – TUnE-yArDs". ultratop.be. Retrieved 2011-10-04. 
  26. ^ "Chart Stats – TUnE-yArDs". zobbel.de. Retrieved 2011-10-04. 
  27. ^ a b "Chart Places tUnE-yArDs". Lescharts.com. Retrieved 2011-10-04. 

External links

  • Tune-Yards' official website
  • Tune-Yards discography at Discogs
  • Tune-Yards' profile on 4AD's website

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