‘Holy shit!’ exclaimed Dirty Projectors frontman Dave Longstreth, after hearing a list of Oxegen 2010’s headliners: Arcade Fire, Muse, Jay-Z, Black Eyed Peas, Eminem, John Mayer, Fatboy Slim. ‘Those are like, all of my favorite bands!’
Amidst a line-up saturated in mainstream pop and corporate indie rock bands, the Brooklyn-based Dirty Projectors are a standout experimental pop gem at this year’s Oxegen. Their seventh studio album, Bitte Orca, is a complex take on pop sounds, most notably in its intricate use of vocal harmonies and melodies. Named of the of the best albums of 2009 by places like Pitchfork and Time Magazine, Orca specifically brings to mind one of the band’s biggest influences, David Byrne, who they collaborated with in 2009 for the track ‘Knotty Pine’ which appeared on the Dark Was the Night compilation.
The band’s most recent project is another collaboration– a new EP with Bjork, Mount Wittenberg Orca, from which all profits will go towards a project that creates internationally protected marine areas. More specifically, the band is working with the National Geographic Society to create areas of sustainability in the oceans.
For Longstreth, the highlight of 2010 involved bodies of water as well. It was in May, when the Sasquatch Music Festival allowed him to revisit one of his favorite rivers, the Columbia Valley, in Washington state. (The festival takes place just above the river’s gorge.) In 2008, when the Projectors headed to America’s indie capital (Portland, Oregon) to record Orca, Longstreth headed north every other weekend to Washington State to hike around by the Columbia.
‘It was really great being back there,’ Longstreth said. ‘It was in this beautiful natural amphitheatre that’s kind of like set into the cliffside of the valley. We played right at sunset and it was just a great, great show and a great feeling, so for me that was probably the highlight of the year. The last 300 miles of Louis and Clarke’s westward journey were on a raft down the Columbia river, this incredibly carved valley.’
Oxegen’s setting might not be quite so scenic, but Longstreth is nonetheless stoked to be returning to Ireland.
‘Ireland is awesome,’ he said. ‘We love Dublin. I love Whelan’s. We’ve played at Whelan’s a bunch of times. Those are great people that run that place and it’s a nice sounding room. One time we even played in Galway and Cork as well. That was probably 2007. Those places were really pretty but nobody came to the shows.’
Their current tour is the band’s first time playing big European festivals.
‘People say about European festivals that they’re just so much bigger than American festivals. [Those] feel pretty massive, so I’m expecting to be awed by the sheer scope I guess.’
The Dirty Projectors will play mostly songs from Bitte Orca at the Red Bull Music Academy stage on Saturday, July 10th at 8:25pm, between sets by The Drums and Wild Beasts.