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My Brightest Diamond
indie chamber music?
by: Charlie Davis - November 19, 2008

To say that Shara Worden eats and sleeps music is both a gross underestimation and blatant disregard for the facts at hand: Fathered by a National Accordian champion. Check. Recorded first song by the age of three. Check. Studied composition under renowned Australian composer. Check. Cheerleading captain for Sufjan Stevens’ Illnoisemakers. Check. Penned song (“To Pluto’s Moon”) that inadvertently spawned an International Astronomical Union-wide campaign to have Pluto reinstated as a planet. TBA.

But in the meantime, Shara has been meandering across European festival stages in support of MBD’s newly released “A Thousand Shark’s Teeth”, an album recorded in Los Angeles, New York, and Berlin with a supporting cast of musicians the size of MC Hammer’s entourage. Known for her keen ability to transplant classical textures onto rock landscapes, as seen on 2006’s “Bring Me the Workhorse”, Shark’s Teeth flips the script and constructs songs around the colors and tones of the of the semi-orchestral arrangements themselves. The result? Lush dynamic string, sections haunting operatic vocals somber guitar tones and just enough sweet sincerity to make it all manageable.


Nearly all press surrounding the release of “A Thousand Shark’s Teeth” mentions that it took 6 years to make. What do you have to say for yourself in defense?
Not so much that the album took six years to make, but more so that the songs span six years of writing. I’ve been working on the bulk of the string arrangements for probably four and a half years. So I guess that is practically 6 years. It’s not that unusual. The reason I included that as a piece of info is because it conveys a sense of journey. The new Portishead record took 10 years--there’s lots of records people work on for a really long period of time. I think its just one way of communicating a sense of journey and a sense of progression.

Of course a lot can happen over the course of six years. How often did you find yourself revisiting old material?
The song structures didn’t’ change, it was more an evolution in learning how to arrange. In the beginning I was thinking it would only be a string quartet record, then I realized that wasn’t what I wanted. Changing how I wanted to arrange and learning how moods and feelings are evoked from tone was part of the process. A really big lesson for me was that we hear color, tambre and sound before we actually hear harmony. That may very well be the essence of the struggle behind the creation of the record.

Essentially, I was trying to teach myself a new way of writing. I always compare it to how on the subway when you’re looking at your reflection, the window is black and its reflecting back to you and its your dark self, the same way that water reflects an image. There’s something distorted and hazy about it. Instead of coming out forthright and saying something, there’s away of alluding to using color and metaphor. This was my objective. I was trying to reconcile something inside of myself.

In your brief stint on earth, you’ve worked with some great artistic minds. Any advice for the rest of us?
Don’t be overly precious about making albums, just let them go. My drummer said that to me. Another piece of advice I’ve received goes something along the lines of: “live the dream and live the myth but don’t believe it.” I think it has to do with the fact that as a musician you’re able to do this wonderful thing, you’re up there on the stage, you’re a magic maker, you’re a transporter, you’re a social critic, the owl of society, you’re reflecting back, you’re commenting and your pushing, and shape shifting and shaping culture as well as reflecting it and yet you have to separate yourself from all of that.

What’s the next move from here?
We’ll be touring with Clare & the Reasons this fall, which we’re very excited about. It’s going to be the ‘Pluto Tour’ because we both have songs about Pluto.

Your thoughts on Pluto being robbed of its ‘planet status’ in recent years?
Apparently it’s actually under debate again. The scientific community seems to be flip-flopping and they’re not sure if they’re going to re-classify it as a planet or not. I say, ‘Let ‘em in!’—with the VIP pass and everything. Even for sentimental reasons alone. I think we all have this attachment to it because as kids, it was the furthest away thing we knew about. It’s where our playground ended. Let’s get him back in the game!



 
 

Iíve been working on the bulk of the string arrangements for probably four and a half years. [...] Itís not that unusual. The reason I included that as a piece of info is because it conveys a sense of journey. The new Portishead record took 10 years--thereís lots of records people work on for a really long period of time.


My Brightest Diamond
"A Thousand Sharkís Teeth"


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what it is

What it is: a new take on opera, cabaret, chamber music, rock, for those who like: Portishead, Jeff Buckley, Maurice Ravel, Tom Waitts