On 'Big Bad Good,' My Bubba Finds A Way To Be Quiet In A Loud World "We wanted to explore that quality of a newly born song and try to catch it," My Larsdotter says of the new album, which blends the duo's Scandinavian heritage with bluegrass, country and blues.

On 'Big Bad Good,' My Bubba Finds A Way To Be Quiet In A Loud World

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MY BUBBA: (Singing) I'm only human. What's new in nature?


Those crisscrossing voices belong to My Larsdotter and Bubba Tomasdottir of the band My Bubba. My is from Sweden. Bubba is from Iceland. Maybe you could tell that from their names. But their music has the sound of something born in America, blend of old country, blues and bluegrass.


MY BUBBA: (Singing) You're reading off my winning ways, you're making wrinkles in my face (ph).

SIMON: My Bubba's new album is "Big Bad Good" and My and Bubba - forgive me for being so familiar to use your first names - join us from our studios in New York. Thanks so much for being with us.

MY LARSDOTTER: Thank you. It's a pleasure to here.

BUBBA TOMASDOTTIR: Very nice to be here.

SIMON: Help us understand your name.

LARSDOTTER: My name is...

SIMON: No, no, no, I meant the name of your group.

LARSDOTTER: Oh (laughter) well, it's exactly the same story. The name of our group is just our first names pronounced in English - My Bubba.

SIMON: As you undoubtedly have been told, Bubba is a pretty familiar name in the United States, but it tends to be a nickname for people who are from the South. I guess Bubba is a familiar name in Iceland, too.

TOMASDOTTIR: It is familiar, but it's not very common. My real name is Guobjorg (ph). And in my family we have a lot of Guobjorgs and so we have two nicknames for them. When you're born you become either a Gooki (ph) or a Bubba, and it was my turn to be a Bubba.

LARSDOTTER: When we wanted to get our website going a of couple of years ago, we wanted mybubba.com, but it turned out it was taken by some fishing trip gang of dudes.

SIMON: (Laughter).

LARSDOTTER: So we had to go with ohmybubba.com...

SIMON: All right.

LARSDOTTER: ...Which is fine, too.

SIMON: Let's listen to the title track from this album, "Big Bad Good."


MY BUBBA: (Singing) I grew into my grandma's fur. She swam from German all the way to Oakland Bay (ph). My grandpa crossed the Greenland ice, ate his horse along the way on the long long way.

SIMON: I mean, that's quite a story and, you know, in the United States we are often telling the story of I got to this country with two cents in my pocket. I didn't have a nickel to rub together, you know, the crossing of the pioneers. But this is the story - this is the story of Iceland too, isn't it?

TOMASDOTTIR: Yes. And this particular story is about my great-great-grandfather who was on a Greenland expedition. They were doing research on the Greenland ice.

LARSDOTTER: But he ended up eating his horse, right?

TOMASDOTTIR: Yeah, he did. They didn't have any food in the end. And he tells about this in his book. He was very close to his horse that he ended up having to eat.

LARSDOTTER: Tough times.

TOMASDOTTIR: Tough times in Greenland.

SIMON: Yeah. What kind of music did each of you grow up listening to and enjoying?

LARSDOTTER: This is My speaking.


LARSDOTTER: I grew up listening to a lot of Little Richard and Wanda Jackson when I was little. And also I listened to a lot of Jim Reeves that my father put on all the time.

SIMON: Jim Reeves, the great American country star.



JIM REEVES: (Singing) Put your sweet lips a little closer to the phone. Let's pretend that we're together all alone.

LARSDOTTER: I fell asleep to his singing every night growing up.

SIMON: Oh, he had a very warm, wonderful voice. So that was in Sweden. Bubba, what about you?

TOMASDOTTIR: Well, I grew up listening to a lot of Scandinavian folk and a lot of Scandinavian jazz as well. Me and my group of friends when I was teenager used to spend the afternoons singing these old Swedish folk songs. And then when I met My, she introduced me to American music, American folk and jazz and blues. So I think our music comes a lot from that mix somehow.


MY BUBBA: (Singing) I've given up the world for you. I've given up the world for you (ph).

SIMON: Now, I gather that most of the songs on this album were recorded as they were written.

LARSDOTTER: That's true. We didn't have any songs when we came to the studio. We wanted to explore that quality of a newly born song and try to catch it.


SIMON: Let's listen to another song, if we can, a very delicate soft song called "Poor Woman."


MY BUBBA: (Singing) My body likes (unintelligible) crumbles in your absence.

SIMON: In some of your songs, do you use silence as kind of another note, another presence in the song?

LARSDOTTER: For sure, for sure, we're very quiet by nature and we're very comfortable being quiet. But it's definitely also part of our music to leave a lot of space for the listener.

SIMON: So are you performers because you have such quiet natures and that's a way of getting out or do you have to fight that?

LARSDOTTER: It's been challenging for sure. I think now that we've been doing this for a couple of years we're finding more and more of our own way of being quiet in this loud world and find a lot of strength in what we have together being quiet. Or what would you say, Bubba?

TOMASDOTTIR: It is. We call it the fragile challenge, that it is often hard to find the space to be fragile.


MY BUBBA: (Singing) How special sweet sensation of indulging in my body is missing you (ph).

LARSDOTTER: Yeah, there's a lot of power in the quietness and in the fragility once you find a way of unlocking it or the right setting to let it be heard.

SIMON: Yeah. My Larsdotter and Bubba Tomasdottir of the band My Bubba speaking with us from New York, so glad we could speak with you.

LARSDOTTER: Thank you.



MY BUBBA: (Singing) Sleepless night...

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