Dirty Projectors' Amber Coffman Was a Fan of Mariah Carey's Early Work
Dirty Projectors' newest album Swing Lo Magellan, released in July 2012, has been praised, discussed, and analyzed extensively all up, down, and around the web. So instead of badgering Coffman with questions about the band or the album, we thought we'd talk to the 20-something songstress about herself and her predilections. She shared about her youthful love of Mariah Carey's music and high school identity politics.
New Times: When you were with Sleeping People, did you imagine then that you'd be where you are today?
Amber Coffman: I've been singing my whole life. And I guess I always had big dreams. You can't ever expect what's going to happen. It's, I guess, it's surprising and delightful. But it also feels really right.
You collaborated with Major Lazer (on "Get Free") and Rusko (on "Hold On"). Both are really beautiful songs; they kind of remind me of like '90s dance music, a little R&B, a little housey, especially the Rusko song. How was it to work with them?
I grew up singing a lot of R&B music. That's how I got into singing until I was a teenager, and then I got into rock music. I have, like, dozens of R&B albums memorized from the '90s. So it's very different to step into that world, but there's also a part of me that has that in my heart. It's really fun to be able to do that and then come back and do our thing in Dirty Projectors.
What was one of the R&B albums or artists that you enjoyed listening to when you were younger?
My first-ever CD was Mariah Carey's debut album. I had all of her albums up until just before that song "Honey" came out. And then by that time, I started getting into rock music. Also SWV's It's About Time. That album was huge for me. TLC's Crazy Sexy Cool. Janet Jackson, her self-titled album, was a big one. Whitney Houston, for sure.
You didn't like "Honey"?
I like that song. That was just sort of that time when I started just getting a little older, and you're in school, and there are all of these identity politics. Like, what sort of music are you into? And what does that say about who you are? I sort of started identifying more with rocker kids. [laughs]
So, there's been a ton of press surrounding the new album, Swing Lo Magellan. Is there anything left to be said about it that hasn't been said yet?
Well, I think it's the best thing Dave has done. I think it's really special and, I don't know, it's really thrilling to be out there playing this music. We've never been so excited about the band; the lineup we have right now, it's really great.
Part two of the interview, where Coffman discusses Hi Custodian, John Waters, and karaoke
Dirty Projectors with Pop Etc. at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, August 7, at the Culture Room, 3045 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $26 with fees. Call 954-564-1074, or visit cultureroom.net.