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Dirty Projectors On New EP, Sharing Vocals

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Dirty Projectors has evolved since 2002. It was originally a solo project by Dave Longstreth, now a five-piece band. Their new project is a cycle of five EPs, released throughout 2020. Each one features a different member of the group on vocals. The second EP is out now. It's called "Flight Tower," and it's sung by Felicia Douglass.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SELF DESIGN")

FELICIA DOUGLASS: (Singing) What once was a mystery's visible, visible, visible. I finally feel I can see. What's enough? What's enough? What's your love but safe design? Self-design.

DAVE LONGSTRETH: To me, the joy is in making music and making music with other people and learning about the world and about the craft through that process.

SIMON: That's the band's leader, Dave Longstreth.

LONGSTRETH: It felt new and fresh and a cool solution to be able to build a platform with the women in the band around them singing lead on most of these songs.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SELF DESIGN")

DOUGLASS: (Singing) Closer to daylight. Further, further you run, far away in the well-lit night. And I don't know why.

LONGSTRETH: A lot of my sort of, like, musical touchstones were just, like, classic, soul music and R&B, like Bill Withers, and Donny Hathaway, Marvin Gaye and Aretha.

SIMON: Felicia Douglass says...

DOUGLASS: I personally relate a lot to straightforward R&B. And I love pop music.

LONGSTRETH: And so yeah, like, to be in dialogue with the past felt reverent. On a musical level, I love the organic instrumentation. The Rhodes and Wurlitzers, acoustic guitars and electric guitars and, of course, the singing.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LOSE YOUR LOVE")

DOUGLASS: (Singing) I bossed like a newborn, lost in the rainstorm and buried my bones like a ghost. I never want to lose your love. I never want to let you down.

Starting to work on a song like "Lose Your Love" is like being a kid in a candy store because (laughter), like, it's easy to make abstract lyrics, but it's harder to make a direct song - like a love song (laughter) - and figure out how to be able to express that in a noncorny way.

DOUGLASS: (Singing) Switch up the perspective. Tasting the drops as every river evolves. Pick up where we left off.

LONGSTRETH: Yeah, and, Felicia, I love what you came up with there.

DOUGLASS: Thank you (laughter).

LONGSTRETH: I think of the line, tasting the drops as every river evolves. Like, several times a week, that line just pops into my head.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LOSE YOUR LOVE")

LONGSTRETH: For me, one of the things I love about production is it's creating, like, a harmonic fabric and really creating beautiful chord progressions. But as important is the texture, is the world that a song unfolds in front of your ears. And so I like to use all kind of sounds that maybe you haven't heard before.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "INNER WORLD")

DOUGLASS: (Singing) Lost the habit, calling to get through. Remedy caught, I'm losing me for you.

I've definitely learned a lot from being in Dirty Projectors. It's funny to think about touring right now because we can't do it anymore. It's almost as if you've taken it for granted (laughter). Like, oh, we played hundreds of shows last year. Like, I'm so happy to be home. But then after a while, you're like, oh, I wish I could get out there and just play one show. Before I joined Dirty Projectors, I didn't play percussion. And if I were to think back to the first day that I said I could do it, I didn't think I could do it.

LONGSTRETH: You didn't?

DOUGLASS: No, of course not.

LONGSTRETH: What?

DOUGLASS: (Laughter). But that was a journey in itself.

LONGSTRETH: What are you talking about? You're on - like, playing the bass and the guitar and...

DOUGLASS: Now that I'm home all the time, I figure that I might as well try and get better at some stuff. And it's never too late (laughter).

LONGSTRETH: Yeah, you're a polymath.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "INNER WORLD")

DOUGLASS: (Singing) All through the undertow, I pursue the bay. Ceaselessly swept out, though swimming the other way.

SIMON: Dave Longstreth and Felicia Douglass of the band Dirty Projectors. Their new EP "Flight Tower" - out now.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "INNER WORLD")

DOUGLASS: (Singing) Inner world, inner world, inner world. Wanted to help but folded up in two. Spaces for roses they forgot to hold. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.