“here isn’t really one word to describe the Bird and the Bee’s sound. Consisting of musicians Greg Kurstin ("bee") and Inara George ("bird"), they came together through a mutual fondness for jazz standards, but have churned it into mix of jazz, pop, electronica and indie dance rock that many say resemble a “tropicalia” era or "Feist gone duo." While other male/female duos like She & Him, have graced the covers of magazines, The Bird and the Bee, have made a fashionable statement while making sounds from the 60’s and 70’s sound contemporary.
Their second album Ray Guns Are Just Not The Future, boldly takes simple pop nuggets and turns them into a worldly sound courtesy of George’s angelic voice. Kurstin, a producer and keyboardist who has worked with Lily Allen, Beck, The Flaming Lips, Kylie Minogue and Red Hot Chili Peppers, turns the knobs courageously into some James Bond meets Austin Powers meets a Lost in Translation swirl of odyssey and joy. Glide recently had a chance to hear from Inara George after the release of Ray Guns.
The Bird and the Bee’s sound grabs at jazz standards, ’60s pop and Brazilian influences and a "Tropicalia” era. What facets of pop culture or what musical influences drove your sound to parallel these styles?
I think that Greg and I have a similar interest in the songwriting style of almost all the music that you
mentioned. There was a certain way the music was crafted that isn’t very present in the music of today.
With Ray Guns Are Not Just The Future, what new terrain did you hope to take your sound that you didn’t hit with your debut and did this album fall together effortlessly or was it harder work than the debut?
I think after playing our first record live we discovered which songs seemed to engage the audience more than others… and I think that was kind of an inspiration for the new record. We wanted to see if we could make it a little more danceable. And making the record was a reall fun experience. We did it over a long period of time, stealing a few hours here and there where we could. So once the our label asked us to deliver the new record, we had a lot of music to choose from.
The Bird and The Bee’s music has often been described as “pop” and “dancey.” Do you find that in any way a negative connotation?
I think that’s what were going for. We love pop music. Someone recently described what we we’re doing as pop rehabilitation. We thought that was the best compliment.
What are the biggest challenges of re-producing your songs on the stage when you go on tour?
Maybe just learning the songs. Because we tend to write and record the songs quickly, we tend to not really know the songs until we start to rehearse them.
What has to happen on stage for it to be a good night for you live?
As for the shows, I think that Greg and I have a similar philosophy… we aren’t interested in playing perfect shows, but just making sure that we have a good time.
What song-writer and singer pair of the past paid the greatest influence on your sound and which pair’s music do you most admire?
That’s difficult. Maybe Burt Bacharach and Dionne Warwick? And since Greg and I are making a Hall and Oates cover record right now, we have to mention them.
What was the motive behind “Love Letter to Japan?”
Japan was the first country to really respond positively to our last record. They even have a karaoke version of "Again and Again" so we thought it was proper for us to send them a love letter.
You made a splash with two different covers -Rihanna’s “Don’t Stop The Music” and The Bee Gee’s “How Deep Is Your Love.” Are you ok with cover songs being two of your most well known songs?
When people hear a song they recognize, but with a different slant, there is such an immediate excitement. So it does not surprise me that we’ve had luck with cover songs. And in terms of choosing the songs… we tend to cover pop songs. Seems to be our M.O.
What else is on tap for The Bird and the Bee in 2009?
I said it before, but we have a Hall & Oates cover record in the works… I’m excited.