Karen O And Danger Mouse Join Forces For 'Lux Prima' Album Lux Prima is a new nine-song album that features otherworldly orchestrations from Grammy-winning artist Danger Mouse and vocals from Yeah Yeah Yeahs frontwoman Karen O.
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Karen O And Danger Mouse Join Forces For 'Lux Prima'

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Karen O And Danger Mouse Join Forces For 'Lux Prima'

Karen O And Danger Mouse Join Forces For 'Lux Prima'

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LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

She's the stage-stomping frontwoman for the rock trio the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DATE WITH THE NIGHT")

YEAH YEAH YEAHS: (Singing) I got a date with the night, burning out my finger...

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And he's a Grammy-winning musician. He's worked with artists like Adele, The Black Keys and Gnarls Barkley.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CRAZY")

GNARLS BARKLEY: (Singing) I remember when, I remember, I remember when I lost my mind...

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Together, Karen O and Brian Burton, better known as Danger Mouse, are combining forces for the new album, "Lux Prima." Both are joining us now from NPR's studios in New York City. Welcome to the program.

BRIAN BURTON: Thank you.

KAREN LEE ORZOLEK: Thank you, hi.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Hi. The title track, "Lux Prima," is a nine-minute track that features these spacey sense (ph) and orchestration. Let's listen.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LUX PRIMA")

KAREN O AND DANGER MOUSE: (Singing) No eyes open, no eyes closed, no smoke on your breath, no eyes closed. No sun on the glass, no darkness, no eyes, nobody but you.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So tell me about this song.

ORZOLEK: Yeah, well, so that was our - our entry point into making music together.

BURTON: Yeah.

ORZOLEK: Yeah, it was, like, the first song that we wrote. And I think Brian had just played me something he'd produced off of Michael Kiwanuka's "Love & Hate" that had, like, a really quite beautiful grand intro. And then, also, we were just, like, playing some long songs. And I think that we kind of had, like, an idea, like, you know.

BURTON: Yeah, yeah. It was our first week. And I just really wanted to work with Karen and see where it went. You know, I love her voice. And immediately, it was just - we kind of wanted to make something beautiful. We just wanted it to be beautiful. And so whatever that meant, that's what kept kind of coming up.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Karen, what's your favorite song on the album?

ORZOLEK: "Ministry" pops out.

(SOUNDBITE OF KAREN O AND DANGER MOUSE SONG, "MINISTRY")

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So talk me through this song.

ORZOLEK: Yeah, do you want to...

BURTON: Sure.

ORZOLEK: You can start with the sample.

BURTON: Yeah, yeah. So it's actually - it's funny because that song is - it's not - the guitar part's not a sample. I can't play guitar very well. So what I did was I just was strumming the guitar underneath and then used guitar notes...

ORZOLEK: Oh, that's what it is.

BURTON: ...On a keyboard. And I just played it for Karen and said, hey, what do you think? This is one of the few times where there was something sitting around, and she quickly - like, something came to it.

ORZOLEK: Yeah, I immediately came up with the bridge, actually (laughter).

BURTON: Yeah, yeah.

ORZOLEK: Which I thought was, like, there's just no topping the bridge. And then Brian, you know, broke the bad news to me that that wasn't - you know, that we needed a verse that went before it. (Laughter).

BURTON: Yeah.

ORZOLEK: But yeah, it's been a song that's kind of been, like, almost a therapeutic song for me to listen to since we've - since we wrote it. It's a warm - it's a warm place for me.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MINISTRY")

KAREN O AND DANGER MOUSE: (Singing) So day by day I'll turn my dreams into a ministry, a ministry, a ministry of her love. Day by day, I'll turn my dreams into a ministry, a ministry, a ministry of her love.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I think I read that you two think writing lyrics is torturous.

ORZOLEK: (Laughter).

BURTON: I think everybody...

ORZOLEK: Yeah, I - bring me someone who...

BURTON: Exactly.

ORZOLEK: No, no, I - no, I have met people who love writing lyrics, actually, and fill, like, books. Like, you know, over - like, Patti Smith is like that, actually - just, like, overflowing books of lyrics. I'm, like, definitely the opposite. It's like blood - blood from a stone with me. It's a process of kind of stream of consciousness and also, like, self-editing at the same time. So it's tough, but, you know, the art of it is important to me.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WOMAN")

KAREN O AND DANGER MOUSE: Won't you come be my friend? Won't you come be my friend? 'Cause the only other friend I could ever be is to me.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Tell me about the song "Woman."

ORZOLEK: Yeah.

BURTON: Yeah, that was just I think maybe - what was it? - maybe second or third...

ORZOLEK: Session.

BURTON: ...Recording session, something like that. And we were trying to do something a little bit more uptempo just because we had been really in, you know, feel-sorry-for-ourself mode for a while.

(LAUGHTER)

BURTON: It was just - it felt good.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Sad world.

BURTON: Yeah, it was good, but - and this happened really quick. You just went in and started singing.

ORZOLEK: Yeah, it was, like, a pretty primal - a primal output that was going on.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WOMAN")

KAREN O AND DANGER MOUSE: (Singing) I'm a woman, what you see. I'm a woman, what you see. I'm a woman, what you see. What you see ain't what I be.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Isn't that how you have to collaborate? When you're collaborating, you have to sort of get into space. And you're like, we're going to do sad now. And then maybe...

BURTON: No.

ORZOLEK: No. (Laughter).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: No, that's not how it works?

BURTON: I think you can...

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I'm just trying to imagine.

BURTON: You can turn around and look and see what you've done and go, oh, we've been sad for two weeks.

(LAUGHTER)

BURTON: Or it's just - it's mostly, I mean - for myself, it's mostly influenced by other music. You know, that's the thing, is something that puts you into a certain place. And you're like, man, this would be great to put myself or other people in this place too.

ORZOLEK: Right.

BURTON: And that's kind of your starting point.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That was Danger Mouse and Karen O. Their new album, "Lux Prima," is out now. Thanks to you both.

ORZOLEK: Thanks.

BURTON: Thank you.

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