The songs on Arthur & Yu's debut album, In Camera, weren't recorded with an audience in mind. They came to life without a shroud of self-consciousness or tainted intentions. They were just practice. Yet somehow the lo-fi recordings became the public's first introduction to the Seattle duet—thanks to Sub Pop founder Jonathan Poneman—who chose Arthur & Yu to be the first signing band on his new imprint, Hardly Art Records.
"[The songs] were never meant for ears," says Arthur & Yu vocalist Sonya Westcott. "But [Hardly Art] wanted to put them out like that," explains Grant Olsen, the band's songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. "They didn't want us to go into the studio. So what you have is how it sounded as I was playing," he continues, "... me and the bedroom and things in my house."
And that's a good thing. Influenced by the breezy harmonizing of the Everly Brothers, the shimmering jangles of doo-wop, and the angelic female presence of Nancy Sinatra, In Camera is a lovely collection of delicate, swaying numbers that are as retro as they are original. While In Camera recalls the past—particularly the 1960s, '70s, and often the Velvet Underground—it feels fresh and alive rather than limp and regurgitated. Clad in tambourine shakes, Casio keys, penny whistles, melodicas, and any other noise-making tool Olsen could find around the house, the album is the result of good taste, good intentions, and a whole lot of creative energy.
Westcott, who used to play bass in Rogue Wave, and Olsen connected through craigslist a couple years ago. Both were interested in a new musical project and, more specifically, in doing a duet. "So we met at a bar in Seattle and exchanged tapes," Westcott says. "We spent time getting to know each other and becoming friends."
Both were intent on recreating the vibe and hazy warmth of Everly Brothers records. Meshing their smoky vocals, they achieved just that. They just didn't expect it to be revealed as is. But, with Arthur & Yu, the "as is" that's built on pure intentions is a very good thing.