A self-described outcast during her youth, Indigo Street, singer and guitar playing in the Brooklyn band Shy Hunters, dropped out of school in her late teens, hitchhiked around the country and then returned to New York and started singing in a band. A member from that group bought her a guitar. “I started trying to learn to play it,” she says now. “It was pretty random. I didn’t choose the guitar, the guitar chose me. Then I got really into it and about a million hours sitting in my living room, playing along to records. It was a big transition for me as I am self-taught.”
Street’s piercing and atmospheric guitar playing (somewhat of a cross between Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour and King Crimson’s Robert Fripp) is one of the distinct elements of Shy Hunters’ music. Formed by Street and drummer Sam Levin in 2009, Shy Hunters recently released their magnificent debut record, O That I Had Wings, a collection of tension-filled songs with a melodic bent and Street’s evocative vocals. The tracks from the album could fit alongside the likes of the Cure, Tori Amos or Echo and the Bunnymen.
The basic album tracks were done at Vacation Island Recording in Williamsburg and produced by Alex Newport (whose credits include Bloc Party and Death Cab for Cutie). “It’s great that we finally finished the record,” Street says. “I guess it probably would be about three years ago that we recorded our first two songs.”
According to Street, a lot of the album’s lyrics draw mainly from personal experience, like on the driving yet spiritual sounding “Raising Voices.” “I remember getting fixated on this idea of myself and certain people I know,” she says, “how certain kind of writers tend to go through life being forced to live in a certain way based on what they’re trying to do–this inner drive that you’re having to follow all the time that forces your life into a shape that can be really difficult as far as the way normal people get to live.”
The working dynamic between Street and Levin is a collaborative process. “Most of the writing was done with Sam and I together in our little practice space, and he’ll generally be behind the drum set and I’ll have an electric guitar and a bunch of effects. And we’ll just mess around and usually I’ll start to get something done. Basically I tend to do a lot of shouting, like ‘That! Keep playing that!’ And he’ll do the same–he’ll say, ‘That thing that you did four minutes ago, go back and do that again.’ It’s very collaborative but I write all the words and melody.”
Not only is she in Shy Hunters, Street is also a member of Jolie Holland’s band. In addition to opening for Holland at Union Pool on the last night of her residency there, Shy Hunters will also be touring with her for some East Coast and Canadian dates this June. And the band is already working on their next record. “We probably have about a third of the songs written,” says Street. “I love playing other people’s music as well as my own. I also have a band [Aye Aye Rabbit] with Greg [Saunier] from Deerhoof. It’s an improv group–it’s loud and noisy and really fun.”
Shy Hunters will perform on May 13 with Jolie Holland at Union Pool, 484 Union Ave., Brooklyn, 9 pm, $10/$12; on May 24 at Bowery Electric, 327 Bowery, New York, 7:30 pm, $12/$15; and on June 24 at Music Hall of Williamsburg, 66 N. 6th St., Brooklyn, 8:30 pm, $20/$25. The band’s new album, O That I Had Wings, is out now.