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Following the sudden exit of singer Dean Wareham from “slowcore” pioneers Galaxie 500 in 1991, Damon Krukowski and Naomi Yang went on to craft their own genre of sad and smart psychedelic folk. Going into their second decade as a duo, Damon and Naomi have released False Beats & True Hearts, the eighth and (somewhat) happiest album yet.  Contributions come from many familiar names, including avant sax player and arranger Bhob Rainey, Ghost and Boris guitar god Michio Kurihara, and Ghost’s main man Masaki Buto, and the accompanying tour featured guest musicians in every city. I had the pleasure of spending some time with my old friends before and after their L.A. stop at The Satellite with Amor de Dias, and couldn’t let Naomi go without a quick Q&A. MW: The new album is great! Now that reviews are pouring in, do you feel like listeners hear it the same way you did when you recorded it? NY: What has been very gratifying is that the reviewers do really seem to have heard what we were trying to do. This time we were consciously trying to write a more upbeat album than the last one and the response has been really positive; we can’t complain that we are misunderstood! MW: Although you are a duo by definition, you’re always playing with friends. Some regulars (Kuri, Bhob…) and a few less frequent (Alasdair, Smokey…). Can you talk about the always-changing dynamics? NY: We love a good collaboration. Working with Kuri and Bhob over a long period of time has allowed us all to grow into the music together and so playing with them feels very natural, but this last tour, due to the fact that Kuri couldn’t play with us in the U.S., we had the opportunity to have more spontaneous collaborations. We were excited about all the players: Alasdair MacLean (Amor de Dias, The Clientele), Mac McCaughan (Superchunk, Portastatic), Wayne Rogers (Major Stars, Magic Hour), Smokey Hormel (Johnny Cash, Beck, Tom Waits…), and Chris Martin (Kinski) along the way. Mary Lattimore (Kurt Vile, Thurston Moore) also sat in with us one night on harp. It’s a very different experience but also really fun to hear everyone’s interpretations of the songs. MW: You’re not known for playing covers, but… Every time I hear “It Changes” or “Lila’s Theme,” I can’t help think of D&N. Not sure why. What do you think? NY: Wow, those songs are super-sad… I think a lot of our music is very emotional, and the loss/the passage of time is often in the lyrics, either explicitly or indirectly. Those aren’t the typical subject for pop songs but it is something that we find in a lot of music that listen to that moves us, and song seems like a very good way to express these sort of emotions… But actually, we have always played a lot of covers, going even back to the olden days of Galaxie 500. It has always been a way for us to...
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Rick Nielsen, Eddie Van Halen, Prince–Michio Kurihara too has a custom guitar pick. You might recall seeing them packaged as a bonus with his excellent Sunset Notes CD when he toured with Boris and Damon & Naomi way back when. These days he’s selling them to benefit safe energy in Japan. Too bad the shredder’s paperwork got stolen in the U.K.and he was stopped at the border coming over to the U.S. with D&N, but he sent picks along with the acid folk duo with the hopes of raising some money nonetheless. Look for them at D&N’s merch table as well as at his future gigs with everyone’s favorite psychedelic ambient doom rockers. More on Damon & Naomi to come…
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Damon Naomi Van

In the van with Damon & Naomi (and Helena and Bhob)


When I was selling T-shirts for Damon & Naomi on tour with Boris back in 2007, a lot of the audience didn’t understand the pairing. Especially fans of the latter band. Why would the red-hot heroes of stony, noisy doom rock from Japan hit the road with the acid-folk offshoot of slowcore pioneers Galaxie 500? I told the black-shirted vinyl freaks that the answer wasn’t exactly right before them, but rather on the side of the stage.

Michio Kurihara with Boris

Guest guitarist Michio Kurihara would stand in the shadowy outskirts during either band’s set and add his mostly understated but always intense flourishes and effects, adding nuances to the Tokyo rockers’ explosive set and noise to the Cambridge duo’s understated arrangements. In fact, both Boris and D&N had released albums in conjunction with the insanely talented shredder from Ghost and Stars. And they’re also all just plain friends. Coincidentally, both Damon & Naomi and Boris are releasing new music this month–with Kurihara.

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