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Baker's Dozen

Coal Into Diamonds: Anand Wilder's Favourite Albums
Nick Hutchings , October 7th, 2014 13:32

Following the release of his album Break Line The Musical with Maxwell Kardon, the Yeasayer man talks Nick Hutchings through an appropriately musical-themed top 13

If Anand Wilder is not content with being a cyber pop prophet with Yeasayer, he's truly a polymath with a yen for pop opera. There's been no doubting his musicality with the genre infusions between world music, psych and pop between All Hour Cymbals, Odd Blood and Fragrant World but nobody anticipated he'd put the musical in musicality. It transpires he had been working on a musical way before the band in which he's made his name, but has only now been able to give it full life, collaborating with an old writing buddy Maxwell Kardon and taking in serious Brooklyn players from bands like MGMT, Chairlift and Dirty Projectors. Break Line The Musical started out as plucking on an old banjo under the cover of a Pennsylvania porch and was based around a labour conflict in an west Pennsylvania coal town that Anand and Maxwell's fathers had learned from an old folk song taught in a local Quakers' school.

"With Break Line I wanted to do a story of interracial, I won't say star-crossed lovers because they actually survive the story, but as a student of American history, race relations is paramount to American history so I wanted to explore that in a musical, in not the most typical leftist way. Although everyone assumes it's a leftist pro-union musical, it's actually a bit more nuanced than that. I'm kind of too busy with Yeasayer to play it live and if someone wanted to take the musical and run with it and change some lyrics and put it on at some fringe festival I would definitely give it my blessing, but it's just not my area of expertise.

"If it hadn't been for the musical Yeasayer would probably have never started because it was kind of my way of getting back in touch with my friend Chris Keating from high school because I had been working with this other band in Philadelphia, working on songs for a musical and then we met up and wrote the song "Opportunity" together and I remembered how easy it is to work with this guy. A couple of months later he invited me up to New York to work on a solo show together and we ended up doing a couple of songs from the musical because we didn't have any new material. And my going up to New York made me realise how easy it was to make it there. So we started offYeasayer in 2005. And in 2006 we were still playing the song 'Wedding Day' live, [which didn't] seem right. It was always gonna come, this moment. I suppose I could have just given it up but I always thought the songs were good enough that it should be out there in the world for the 20 people that think it's great."

Not just off-Broadway, but offbeat, Break Line displays a different side to Wilder that he decided to explore further with his choices for a Baker's Dozen, many of which either have a historical and politicised context, or are musical soundtracks where quirky lyricism and dynamism rules. Fill those operatic lungs and suck it all in…

Break Line is out now via Mute. Click on his image below to begin scrolling through Anand's choices