While working on a breakup record, Binki Shapiro finds a match made in heaven
What’s the reward for being brave all the time?” Binki Shapiro sweetly sings with a lingering and captivating languor. As listeners, we aren’t certain what the answer is, and perhaps never will be, since the question posed at the beginning of “What’s The Reward” is addressed to a former lover, just like the other tracks on Adam Green & Binki Shapiro.
This pair’s debut record, overseen by producer/musician Noah Georgeson, is 27 minutes of irresistible, multifarious duets that are poignant folk-pop ballads, crafted by two incredibly affecting and prevailing voices: Binki Shapiro (Little Joy/the babe wearing a wig in multiple Beck music videos) and Adam Green, known for his work in indie duo The Moldy Peaches, as well as for an extensive discography of his own. The two became close friends when Green contributed backing vocals to Little Joy’s self-titled 2008 record, and opened for the band during its Brazilian tour.
As it turns out, we don’t necessarily need an answer to Shapiro’s question. For Shapiro and Green—who have both experienced breakups relatively recently—the reward for being brave comes with a breakup, and consequently being able to compose an entire cohesive album, startling in its ability to subtly seep its way into your bones.
The addition of Josiah Steinbrick (multi-instrumentalist), Jason Boesel (drums) and Todd Dahlhoff (bass), plus, of course, Green and Shapiro’s beautiful blend of male/female dual vocals and heartwrenching awareness, carry the album. Shapiro says the seamless collaboration is simply a reflection of her and Green’s unforced and lighthearted friendship.
“We definitely are laughing a lot and having a lot of fun together, and I think that was why we wanted to do this project in the first place,” says Shapiro.
Their comfort in one another’s company is demonstrated on the album cover itself, in which she is sitting on top of Green’s shoulders. “We have a really good, and easy, and fun rapport with each other, and I thought it would be cool to be contractually bound to him for life,” she adds.
It should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with Green’s booming baritone and typically wacky, yet infectious, lyrics, that Shapiro describes Green as “a very different songwriter. He just has a very light and fun approach to the whole thing.”
She elaborates, “He’s probably the funniest person I’ve ever met, and his brain just works in a different way than anyone I know. Sometimes, he’s a comedian, and sometimes he’s very childlike; everything he does comes from a genuine place, so it’s very easy to relate to him.”
Green’s refreshing attitude allowed Shapiro to be less of a stickler for details, which she admits to sometimes being guilty of.
“Adam pulls out a more carefree side of me, and I think in doing that, it encouraged me in different ways that I hadn’t really experienced before, and we finished this [album] a lot quicker than with Little Joy because of that,” she says. Funded by the artists themselves, the album was written in nine to 12 months, and recorded in just three weeks.
Now, Shapiro looks forward to taking their “little traveling circus”—her affectionate term for the band—on tour, beginning Jan. 29, in Los Angeles, which is the record’s official release date. Then, on Jan. 31, the band will rock The Rio Theatre, opening for Father John Misty.
“After a while of not playing shows, I start to feel like something that I can’t put my finger on is missing in my life, and that’s usually what it boils down to,” she says. “I get that feeling back when we go out and play.”
Adam Green & Binki Shapiro play at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 31 at The Rio Theatre, 1205 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. Tickets are $17.50. For more information, call 423-8209.H