Favorite Sessions

Unknown Mortal Orchestra: Solo And Acousticopbmusic.org

After beginning Unknown Mortal Orchestra in a Portland basement a few years ago, Ruban Nielson didn't expect anyone to hear the music at all, let alone demand to hear an entire album's worth of it. He'd returned to Portland intent on turning away from music following the dissolution of The Mint Chicks, the band he and his brother Kody led for nine years. But that's not quite how things worked out.

"I came back here, and I started making music as a hobby," he told opbmusic. "I thought, 'Oh, nobody's gonna care,' you know? I can just make it and I won't have to tell anyone I'm doing it." Nielson posted a lone track, "Ffunny Ffriends," to his Bandcamp page in the spring of 2010 and — once music blogs got a hold of it — there was suddenly a lot more attention than he'd ever intended.

Skip to now and the release of UMO's second album, II — it's one thing to make a record in anonymity and another to create and deliver while fans eagerly await your work. Nielson, for his part, doesn't seem to have felt too much pressure for that shift, and likens the process to cooking: "If you cook a meal for yourself, you'll enjoy it, because you know what you like. But then, if you're making food for your family ... then you're always gonna put more effort into it, so it's gonna be a little bit better." A tasty spread it is, adding a subtle R&B side and a bit more nuance to the bluesy, lo-fi vibe of his debut. In this opbmusic studio session, Nielson plays a solo version of "Swim and Sleep (Like a Shark)," with just his acoustic guitar for accompaniment.

Watch more videos from Unknown Mortal Orchestra's session at opbmusic.org.

Credits
  • Audio: Steven Kray
  • Video: Jarratt Taylor, Marjorie Deocampo
[+] read more[-] less

More From Rock

From left: Rebecca Lovell, Elvis Costello, Glen Hansard, Conor O'Brien and Megan Lovell at the 2016 Newport Folk Festival. Josh Wool for Newport Folk Festival hide caption

toggle caption Josh Wool for Newport Folk Festival

Newport Folk Festival

Elvis Costello, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2016

Hear Costello perform with several special guests, including Glen Hansard and Middle Brother.

Elvis Costello, Live At Newport Folk 2016

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/487843423/487843997" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Carly Commando of Slingshot Dakota in a scene from the video for "Paycheck." Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the artist

All Songs TV

First Watch: Slingshot Dakota, 'Paycheck'

The D.I.Y. punk-pop duo has been around for a decade, but it's only just released a video.

Violent Femmes perform at the 2016 Newport Folk Festival. Adam Kissick for NPR hide caption

toggle caption Adam Kissick for NPR

Newport Folk Festival

Violent Femmes, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2016

Hear the off-again, on-again rock band's careening, playful acoustic set.

Violent Femmes, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2016

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/487149521/487170600" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

River Whyless in a scene for their new video for the song, "All Day All Night." Courtesy Of The Artist hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy Of The Artist

All Songs TV

Watch A Gilded New Video From River Whyless

In its new video, the Asheville, N.C., folk band performs a new song while decked out in gold.

Cosmia Jaala in a scene from her new video for the song, "Ticket" hide caption

toggle caption

All Songs TV

Jaala's 'Ticket' Is Post-Love

In its new video, the noise-punk band performs "Ticket" inside a half-abandoned house.

Back To Top