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Dirty Projectors' Amber Coffman Was a Fan of Mariah Carey's Early Work

You might say that Amber Coffman is the strongest female voice in the indie collective Dirty Projectors, masterminded by David Longstreth. She's been singing with the band since 2006, when she moved out to Brooklyn, a place she'd barely visited before, from San Diego. It was a fortuitous decision to relocate.

Dirty Projectors' newest album Swing Lo Magellan, released in July 2012, has been praised, discussed, and analyzed extensively all up, down, and around the web. So instead of badgering Coffman with questions about the band or the album, we thought we'd talk to the 20-something songstress about herself and her predilections. She shared about her youthful love of Mariah Carey's music and high school identity politics.

New Times: When you were with Sleeping People, did you imagine then that you'd be where you are today?

Amber Coffman: I've been singing my whole life. And I guess I always had

big dreams. You can't ever expect what's going to happen. It's, I

guess, it's surprising and delightful. But it also feels really right.

You collaborated with Major Lazer (on "Get Free") and Rusko (on

"Hold On"). Both are really beautiful songs; they kind of remind me of

like '90s dance music, a little R&B, a little housey, especially the

Rusko song. How was it to work with them?

I grew up singing a lot of R&B music. That's how I got into

singing until I was a teenager, and then I got into rock music. I have,

like, dozens of R&B albums memorized from the '90s. So it's very

different to step into that world, but there's also a part of me that

has that in my heart. It's really fun to be able to do that and then

come back and do our thing in Dirty Projectors.

What was one of the R&B albums or artists that you enjoyed listening to when you were younger?

My first-ever CD was Mariah Carey's debut album. I had all of her

albums up until just before that song "Honey" came out. And then by that

time, I started getting into rock music. Also SWV's It's About Time.

That album was huge for me. TLC's Crazy Sexy Cool. Janet Jackson, her

self-titled album, was a big one. Whitney Houston, for sure.

You didn't like "Honey"?

I like that song. That was just sort of that time when I started

just getting a little older, and you're in school, and there are all of

these identity politics. Like, what sort of music are you into? And what

does that say about who you are? I sort of started identifying more

with rocker kids. [laughs]

So, there's been a ton of press surrounding the new album, Swing Lo

Magellan. Is there anything left to be said about it that hasn't been

said yet?

Well, I think it's the best thing Dave has done. I think it's really

special and, I don't know, it's really thrilling to be out there

playing this music. We've never been so excited about the band; the

lineup we have right now, it's really great.

Part two of the interview, where Coffman discusses Hi Custodian, John Waters, and karaoke

Dirty Projectors with Pop Etc. at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, August 7, at the Culture Room, 3045 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $26 with fees. Call 954-564-1074, or visit cultureroom.net.

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Liz has her master’s degree in religion from Florida State University. She has since written for publications and outlets such as Miami New Times, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, Ocean Drive, the Huffington Post, NBC Miami, Time Out Miami, Insomniac, the Daily Dot, and the Atlantic. Liz spent three years as New Times Broward-Palm Beach’s music editor, was the weekend news editor at Inverse, and is currently the managing editor at Tom Tom Magazine.
Contact: Liz Tracy

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