Portland, Oregon-based singer-songwriter Anya Marina, who turned heads with her 2009 album, Slow & Steady Seduction: Phase II, and landed in SPIN’s Breaking Out section, is back November 15 with a new EP called Spirit School. Like Seduction, it boasts collabos with some of her rockin’ pals, including Dandy Warhols frontman Courtney Taylor-Taylor — hear their song “Whatsit” below!
“I’d had this idea for a while that I wanted to do this EP of duets or co-writes with some of the boys that I know,” says Marina, who had been writing with Spoon’s Britt Daniel and Bob Schneider, among others. “I decided to email all my friends and see if they were into it, and I was shocked that everybody wrote back and said ‘Yeah, sign me up, let’s do it!'”
“Whatsit” sprouted from a melody Marina concocted while on a walk around town — something she says is a big part of her creative process. Then, after watching Dig, the documentary on the Dandy Warhols and the Brian Jonestown Massacre, she realized her hook was very Dandys-esque, so she rang up Taylor-Taylor, a friend and fellow Portland resident.
“In true Courtney Taylor fashion, he was like, ‘You need to take this from being some fucking Banana Republic mall song to some fucking dirty rock’n’roll shit,'” Marina says. “So he wrote the dirty guitar part.” The duo then recruited Gregg Williams, who’d worked on several Dandys albums and also on The Globe Sessions, Marina’s favorite “dark, depressed, and suicidal” Sheryl Crow album, to mix the song.
The Spirit School EP also features a collaboration with Telekinesis main man Michael Lerner and a remix by Interpol drummer Sam Fogarino. And while Marina’s self-producing her next full-length (due in Spring 2011) after being urged to do so by her label, Chop Shop, helmed by music supervisor extraordinaire Alexandra Patsavas, based on Marina’s production work on Spirit School, there will still be room for her buddies to play along.
“It’s flattering of course but it’s scary — I’ve never produced my own record,” says Marina. “But I think that I’ll just keep inviting my very capable, smart, talented friends over to help me out.”
Stream “Whatsit” and tell us what you think in the comments section.
LISTEN: Anya Marina, “Whatsit”