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TEXT By Michael Hilleary Photos by Noah Kalina




ave Longstreth has behind his band’s breakthrough 2009

one hell of a view. Slumping his lanky frame in a plush leather chair, the Dirty Projectors front-man has been given a room in Brooklyn’s Wythe Hotel that has a massive floor-to-ceiling window, displaying the island of Manhattan in stunning panorama. The funny thing, as Longstreth points out, is that the accommodations are a bit superfluous. “I live just a couple blocks that way,” he notes.

album Bitte Orca, Longstreth hid himself away, renting a house in upstate New York for the sole purpose of writing and recording new songs. Narrowed from more than 50 demos to 12 final tracks, the resultant Swing Lo Magellan is Longstreth’s attempt at concentrated songcraft. “This album, for me, is just about the songs,” he says, “this idea of a verse and a chorus and lyrics and melody.”

Despite the junketed overkill of the meeting place, Longstreth can attest that time away from home can really clear one’s head for answers. Last year after touring

We toured a ton on Bitte Orca, particularly in 2010, when we did a lot of festival runs and I’d wind up back in New York for an odd amount of time. And it’s not the most

What prompted you to write and record the songs where you did?

relaxing place to return to, so we started spending a little time upstate. It just seemed like a cool place. How long did you stay? About 10 months. Was it difficult being alone for such a prolonged period of time? For some reason, I imagine you thriving in that type of environment. I did in this situation, yeah. I think one of the [reasons] why I wanted to do it was [because] my freshman year of college, I didn’t really have—I hated college. I didn’t have many friends or people that I wanted to befriend, so I just spent a ton of time alone. And I wrote songs and recorded constantly. It was a moment when I really started to develop a personal approach to music, a personal language. So I wanted to do that again. I wanted to incubate a bit. I’d be up there for four or five days at a time, and I’d come back down, my friends would be here, and we’d go out. But it was amazing to just be able to dip all the way inside your mind and then come out.




ALARM Magazine #40