The formation of Tanlines was as inevitable as it was organic. A few years ago, Professor Murder's Jesse Cohen and former Don Caballero bassist Eric Emm were creating remixes in a Brooklyn studio, dipping into their personal hard drives to unearth samples and bringing in friends to lay down vocals. As the duo continued to work together — Emm first produced a Professor Murder record a few years prior — the developing chemistry lent itself to writing original material. Emm started taking on more vocal duty, and Cohen nestled into his comfort zone as a percussionist.
"You can see the progression, it's very natural," Cohen said by phone earlier this month as Tanlines headed to a show in New Orleans. "At a certain point we wanted to spend some energy on our own material. Remixing is really good for putting stuff out there; it's an easy platform, especially when you have your own studio."
Whereas 2010's Settings EP had a loose, world-music vibe that suggested an electronic Vampire Weekend, this year's Mixed Emotions (True Panther Sounds) delivered a pair of top-shelf indie singles ("Brothers," "All Of Me") and enhanced the duo's ability to straddle the line between experimentalism and pop music. When Tanlines are at their best, the drumming, almost tribal in its precision and breadth, takes center stage and carries the song. "I start by writing a drum part, or a simple melody, and Eric sings over it," Cohen says. "We write everything together. It starts with percussion; I'm definitely more rhythm based, Eric is more focused on lyrics, songwriting, more of the textures."
Just don't call them a dance act, despite their origin as remixers. "There are certain beats borrowed from that world, but overall it's not a world we come from. . . . DJs are not playing our songs."
TANLINES + SUPREME CUTS |THE SINCLAIR, 52 CHURCH ST, CAMBRIDGE :: NOVEMBER 28 @ 7 PM ::18+ :: $16 DOORS :: 617.451.7700 OR SINCLAIRCAMBRIDGE.COM
: Music Features
, New York, Brooklyn, Don Caballero, More