At the start of lockdown in March, singer-songwriter Amanda Palmer was staying in New Zealand after the conclusion of her world tour. Grammy winner Rhiannon Giddens, on the other hand, was locked down in Ireland after her own tour ended.
The duo was craving collaboration, so Palmer hit up producer Jherek Bischof, who got together some string players in Los Angeles to assist. Together, the musicians just released a dreamy cover of Portishead’s 1994 track “It’s A Fire,” which Palmer had on repeat over in New Zealand during her stay.
“There is something about this song that speaks to a deeper connection between things happening right now,” Palmer says of the Bandcamp track. “Black Lives Mattering, COVID, fear and trust are all colliding with one another…I wanted this cover version to sound more like a dark closet talk between two friends…hanging onto each other for dear life whispering, ‘we’re gonna make it out of here.’”
All profits from the track will go toward the Free Black University Fund, an org aiming for free education for “accessibility reasons” and also for reasons “relating to how we engage with education,” according to its website.
“It was a delight to work on this with Amanda Palmer,” Giddens says. “It felt so good to make some art together, even separated by half a world. We all need to take a collective breath together, and breathe on…it’s all of us or none of us.”
Listen to the track below.