Dusty Trails Biography
Vivian and Josephine met when VivianÆs former band Luscious Jackson opened for JosephineÆs former band The Breeders on a European tour in 1993. The pair bonded over movie soundtracks, string arrangements and sequins. A couple of years later, Vivian and Luscious JacksonÆs Jill Cunniff asked Josephine to record and co-produce "KLASSICS WITH A K," the album by their side project the Kostars.
Vivian and Josephine have collaborated ever since and officially founded Dusty Trails in 1998, working full-time (and then some) to create music in the vein of the classic soundtrack masters as well as æ60s-era French and Brazilian pop. Dusty Trails recently fulfilled their cinematic ambitions and wrote music, including the closing song, for Happy Accidents, a film by Brad Anderson (director of the acclaimed Next Stop Wonderland).
It probably canÆt be stressed enough that Dusty TrailsÆ music bears little resemblance to its membersÆ former bands. With its devotion to light, sexy grooves and subtly crafted arrangements, the music has a refinement and elegance û much like Josephine and Vivian. "This is our natural sensibility û we just hadnÆt found an outlet for it until now," Josephine says.
The music has roots in the likes of Lalo Schifrin, John Barry, Dave Grusin and Nino Rota û classic soundtrack composers who made some of the most adventurous music of their time by combining classical instruments with modern pop instrumentation in ways that had never been tried before.
"ThatÆs our reference point," Josephine explains. "It just gives you a much broader musical palette." The music is filled with juxtapositions, like using Mellotron strings and a Brian Wilsonian arrangement on a song like the Nashville-inflected "Fool for a Country Tune." Yet with all its references to the past, the music is thoroughly contemporary, touching on house music and trip-hop, embodying Josephine and VivianÆs thoroughly 21st century sensibility. Call it music for a Space Age bachelorette pad.
Dusty TrailsÆ name isnÆt meant to refer to old westerns as much as musical byways somewhat obscured by the passage of time. But the fact that it does summon up such a clear visual image is also in keeping with Dusty TrailsÆ evocative music: Every song conjures vivid, consciously cinematic imagery.
"Order Coffee" summons up a forlorn roadside diner in the middle of nowhere just as surely as any establishing shot while the sweet, ecstatic rush of "Est-ce Que Tu..." recalls a scene out of Antonioni û rainy æ60s hipster London as seen through the windshield of an Aston-Martin as the opening credits roll. The action jumps to a leisurely drive through the C(te dÆAzur for "St-Tropez"; the slinky, suspenseful "Spy In The Lounge" could be the accompaniment for a scene in a æ70s CIA thriller.
Vivian usually handles the melodies, lyrics, vocals and keyboards; Josephine comes up with the beats, plays electric and stand-up bass, percussion, guitars and masterminds the recording and mixing.
Dusty Trails stands at the vanguard of the new revolution in making music -- it is now possible to make top quality recordings at home, which is precisely what Dusty Trails did. (And as a matter of fact, at the end of "Dusty Trails Theme," you can hear birds twittering outside the window.) A miracle of deftly layered textures and palpable atmosphere, the recording firmly establishes Dusty Trails as a production team be reckoned with.
There are guest appearances by Luscious JacksonÆs Jill Cunniff and Kate Schellenbach, trombonist Josh Roseman and percussionist Jon Mattock (formerly of Spacemen 3 and Spiritualized). And yes, thatÆs country-rock legend Emmylou Harris on the heartbreaking "Order Coffee." The track came together when Vivian met Harris at producer Daniel LanoisÆ Kingsway Studios in New Orleans during the sessions for Luscious JacksonÆs "FEVER IN FEVER OUT." Harris was rehearsing up on the second floor and Vivian became so entranced by the voice that was floating down the stairs that she wrote a song for Harris.
This album marks VivianÆs first experience as a lead singer û turns out she possesses an astonishingly pretty voice, the perfect vessel for her exquisite melodies and an ideal counterpart to the sultry poise and grace of the music. But in keeping with the soundtrack vibe, a good half of the album is instrumental. "The instrumentals arenÆt songs that we couldnÆt find lyrics for _ theyÆre pieces of music that we consider an important form in themselves," Josephine says.
The Dusty Trails album is released by Atlantic Records via the labelÆs innovative "Division One" area, which has helped develop the careers of such boundary-crossing artists as Buena Vista Social Club, Olu Dara, and Mark Ribot. In common with those artists, Dusty TrailsÆ blend of old and new has a timeless quality. "WeÆd like to make music you could listen to 10 or 15 years from now and not feel like it belonged to any particular movement," says Vivian. "WeÆd like to belong to the long-shelf-life category of music."