Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘music’

21 MAY, 2009

Behind the Scenes of Project N.A.S.A.

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From Jamaica to L.A., by way of the underground.

Five years in the making, the N.A.S.A. project — which stands for North America South America — made waves last year as one of the biggest creative collaborations between iconic “underground” artists across music, art, film and more.

One of N.A.S.A.’s most high-profile manifestations was the video for the track Money, featuring David Byrne, Chuck D, Ras Congo, Seu Jorge, and Z-Trip, directed by Syd Garon and Paul Griswold, and with artwork by none other than the now-iconic Shepard Fairey.

Today, we go behind the scenes, with background on the N.A.S.A. project and the unprecedented but excellent idea of pairing up music artists with animators.

N.A.S.A.’s first album, The Spirit of Apollo, is an equally impressive string of unlikely but brilliant collaborations, including Karen O, Method Man, Santogold, M.I.A., The Cool Kids, and many, many more – grab it now.

19 MAY, 2009

Artist Spotlight: Zee Avi

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From island paradise to bushfire, or why the best new music puts all of SXSW to shame.

At just 23, Malaysian singer-songwriter Zee Avi isn’t simply formidable up-and-coming musical talent — she’s also a poster child for success via social media. Her story goes a little something like this: After months of recording songs on her webcam and uploading them to YouTube, Avi woke up one morning to find a message from a major talent scout in her inbox. Beds were rolled off of in excitement, contacts were exchanged, and the rest was indie music history.

One thing led to another and, next thing I know, I was on a plane to L.A.


With vocals that are part Ingrid Michaelson, part Billie Holiday, and the lyrical sensibility of Feist, Zee Avi is the antidote to the general mediocrity that spewed from SXSW this year — and positively the best performer we’ve come across in 2009. 

Her self-titled debut album drops today, under Jack Johnson’s Brushfire Records label. So go ahead, get in the know before she goes… gasp… mainstream.

14 MAY, 2009

Animation Spotlight: Forget

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Balloons, nested dolls, and a man with a cardboard box on his head.

Today’s short-and-sweet is a possibly bizarre but positively breathtaking music video for Vania & The Master‘s Forget, directed and animated by German motion graphics artist Michael Fragstein.

Enjoy.