The beloved indie duo on working with fellow musician Boots Riley on his bonkers coming-of-age tale for Prime Video.
Ever since his 2018 feature debut Sorry to Bother You, Oakland-based musician Boots Riley (of The Coup) has built a reputation as one of our most imaginative, socially-minded filmmakers, combining abject surrealism with biting commentary on the complex interweavings of race and capitalism in American life. (With a healthy dose of absurd comedy, of course.)
His followup is the seven-episode Amazon series I’m a Virgo, starring Jharrel Jerome as a 13-foot-tall Black man named Cootie, hidden away since birth by his overprotective parents in Oakland. But when he escapes and finally sees the real world for what it is, he’s both amazed and aghast at the joys and horrors it contains.
Sure, he finally gets to try fast-food burgers, and falls in love with a charming woman named Flora (Olivia Washington) who has her own sort of superpower. But he also faces the increased commodification of his size and self by a world that views him as an object… or, in the case of real-life superhero The Hero (Walton Goggins), a “thug” that needs to be taken out.
Aiding Riley’s beautifully maximalist project is indie duo Tune-Yards, aka Merrill Garbus and Nate Brenner, who adapt their signature frenetic hooks, and limber vocalizations to a soundscape as riveting as it is unconventional. And now, Garbus and Brenner join me on the show to talk about working with Boots’ exacting creative vision, adapting to the world of composing, and what it’s like for musicians out there in a world where unionization is on the minds of everyone in the wake of the SAG and WGA strikes.
We also provide two exclusive commentaries for tracks from the score to I’m a Virgo, courtesy of Garbus and Brenner.
You can find Tune-Yards at their official website here.
I’m a Virgo is currently streaming on Prime Video. You can also listen to the score on your preferred music streaming service courtesy of Lakeshore Records.