Last August, in an eight-minute video created for The New York Times, the formidable trio of Skrillex, Justin Bieber, and Diplo got all self-reflective and black-and-white in breaking down the creative process behind their hit single “Where Are U Now.” The video, while artfully shot, is almost achingly pretentious, with Bieber talking about the “hardships” he has been through recently that are supposedly evident in his vocals on the pop song and Diplo referring casually to his personal assistant like it’s no big thing to have one of those. Skrillex, for his part, is at a loss to express himself in complete sentences: “The voice and the mouth and the whole, like structure.” It plays like a 21st century This Is Spinal Tap, only its stars are being completely sincere.
Such ridiculousness should not go unpunished, so Merrill Garbus of Tune-Yards and Thao Nguyen of Thao & The Get Down Stay Down have teamed up for a new Funny Or Die video called “Thao And Merrill Make A Hit” in which they break down the making of the track “Astonished Man” from Nguyen’s A Man Alive album. The song itself is barely in evidence here. Nguyen and Garbus instead spend two and a half minutes spouting vague, self-serving soundbites that do little in the way of illuminating the creative process. They behave like two spoiled industry insiders who have no perspective on themselves whatsoever; it’s a miracle they managed to complete the album at all. “Yeah, I ‘produced’ the album,” says Garbus, making air quotes, “but I’m a chick, so I’m mostly like, ‘WOOOOOOOO!’”
“I wrote this song with myself,” Nguyen brags, her expression and voice conveying not one ounce of emotion. Some of her words come almost directly from the original New York Times video: “I would be, like, oh that sounds wrong. No, no, that sounds right wrong.” Eventually, though, the track and the album were completed. Starting Friday, Thao & The Get Down Stay Down go on a North American tour to promote it.