Pinkmountain_200x200Inside Song
curated by Scott Pinkmountain
with Merrill Garbus, Jesse Sykes and Mirah Yom Tov Zeitlyn
and an afterword by Thao Nguyen

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In these three interviews with highly-regarded and innovative songwriters, there’s some talk of process, craft and mechanics of songwriting, but it applies beyond the practice of songwriting, as Merrill Garbus’s, Jesse Sykes’s and Mirah Yom Tov Zeitlyn’s responses are aimed at the bigger target of what really matters. Through open discussions of their individual creative processes, these songwriters grapple with larger issues of the meaning and purpose of art, the potential value of their contributions and the role of their work in society.
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Merril Garbus‘s early creative work was in puppetry and theater. She formed tUnE-yArDs in 2006 and the band has released three albums since 2009. Garbus is based in Oakland, where she lives with Nate Brenner, her partner and primary collaborator in tUnE-yArDs.
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Thao Nguyen formed her band, Thao and the Get Down Stay Down, in college, and released her first album shortly after, in 2005. She spent the majority of her twenties touring, and recently took a full year off from music, focusing her attention on political issues and prisoner advocacy. She has collaborated extensively with both Mirah and Merrill Garbus, releasing the album Thao & Mirah, which was coproduced by Garbus.
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Scott Pinkmountain (aka Scott Rosenberg) is a writer and musician living in Pioneertown, California. His work has appeared on This American Life and in many publications. He hosts the Make/Work podcast on The Rumpus. He has also released dozens of albums of both instrumental music and songs. His work can be found here.
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Jesse Sykes formed her current band, The Sweet Hereafter, with Phil Wandscher in Seattle in the late 1990s. They’ve released four albums, often in collaboration with producer Tucker Martine. At the time of the interview, Sykes was living in Iowa.
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Mirah Yom Tov Zeitlyn started performing as a college student in the ’90s, steeped in the indie-rock scene of Olympia. Her early low-fi experiments and home-recording style helped define the sound of the K Records catalog. She has collaborated with Phil Elvrum, Jherek Bischoff and The Black Cat Orchestra, and is currently based in Brooklyn, NY.
Upcoming events:
2015: tUnE-yArDs is presently on tour through the end of September. Dates are available here.




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Essay Press is pleased to announce the two winners of the 2016 Essay Press Open Book Contest judged by Carla Harryman: Litany for the Long Moment by Mary-Kim Arnold and Of Sphere by Karla Kelsey, which will be published in Fall 2017.