Got A Girl I Love You But I Must Drive Off This Cliff Now on LP + Download
For their premiere collaboration, Got A Girl – that is, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Dan “The Automator” Nakamura – have created a vivid and impossibly inventive pop travelogue chronicling the jet-setting world of the cool and continental, a breathless way of life overflowing with chilled champagne and evanescent eleganza, stolen kisses and love on the run. I Love You But I Must Drive Off This Cliff Now, the pair’s enthralling debut album, sees Nakamura – whose innumerable, inimitable credits include influential production (Kool Keith/Dr. Octagon, Gorillaz) and membership in such visionary collaborations as Deltron 3030, Lovage, and Handsome Boy Modeling School – cooking up one of the most exuberant sonic confections of his brilliant career, a giddy and impressionistic setting for Winstead’s sweetly detached vocal delivery and nuanced lyricism.
Born of – but not limited to – Got A Girl’s mutual ardor for the gauche French pop of the 1960, songs like “Last Stop” and “I’ll Never Hold You Back” are at turns pillowy and demure, sharp and seductive, with a striking fatalism hiding not far below the sun-dappled surface. “It’s sweetly melancholy,” says Winstead, “a little tongue-in-cheek at times. You can feel this young girl, traveling, living an exciting, luxurious life in different parts of the world, with different men, different experiences. We wanted it to be Romantic in the classic sense.” “What this record stands for in the end is a lifestyle,” says Nakamura. “It’s about people traveling the world, eating fine food, enjoying life. The music illustrates that but in a lot of ways, it’s just a backdrop. It’s the soundtrack to that lifestyle.”
Known for roles in such films as Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, The Spectacular Now, and the upcoming Kill The Messenger, Winstead first crossed paths with Nakamura in 2010 as both worked on the aforementioned Scott Pilgrim, the actor acting and the musician contributing to the score. Winstead – who counts Lovage’s Music To Make Love To Your Old Lady By as “one of my favorite albums of all time” – approached The Automator after a cast and crew dinner to let him know she was a big fan, assuming that would be that.
“About a year later, Dan came up to me at the premiere and said, ‘We should do something sometime,’” Winstead says. “I was like, okay! I would love to! I didn’t think it was real. He gave me his phone number – I remember putting it in as ‘Dan the Automator’ and thinking, that is so surreal.” “Somehow it made sense,” says Nakamura. “I was like, let’s try something. I like to do a lot of records, a lot of projects. It could end up as a guest slot on another record, it could be a lot of different things, let’s see how it goes. And it went pretty well.”
Right from the jump, the two seemingly disparate artists found they were both surfing similar waves of inspiration. Each were especially enthused by the daft, dewy and even slightly degenerate sounds of 1960s French pop, that uniquely Gallic soufflé of girl group soul, café jazz, lush arrangements and groovy eroticism.“It was really serendipitous,” Winstead says, “Dan was looking to do something that was inspired by yé-yé girls, Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin, all of that – which, at the time, I was thoroughly engrossed with myself. So it was quite perfect.” “It was a meeting of the minds,” says The Automator. “A kindred spirit kind of thing.”
Nakamura sent a skeletal track to Winstead, suggesting she begin thinking of songwriting in terms of character and story. For the nascent lyricist, the task came with no little pressure. “I certainly didn’t feel confident,” Winstead says. “It took a little courage on my part to sit down and write something that I knew Dan was going to listen to and judge. I really wasn’t sure I could do it. So when he responded well to it, I thought, wow, maybe this is something I can do.” Indeed, “Did We Live Too Fast” now serves as the opening track of I Love You But I Must Drive Off This Cliff Now. Energized by her “new passion,” Winstead and Nakamura soon commenced writing together, collaborating on lyrics as they learned more about each other’s creative strengths and interests.
Dubbing themselves Got A Girl, the duo continued writing and recording though 2012, largely in Nakamura’s home base of San Francisco, with additional tracks and set-ups done in Los Angeles. With both participants’ hectic schedules, they squeezed in sessions – including Winstead lending her voice to Deltron 3030’s 2013 album, Event 2 – during whatever brief downtimes fit between their myriad individual projects. Considering its long gestation and audacious aims, I Love You But I Must Drive Off This Cliff Now is surprisingly seamless, a perfectly realized union of atmospheric ambience and ambitious songcraft. The Automator is of course a master of genre subversion and experimental futurism, effortlessly transmogrifying hip-hop, psychedelia, found sounds, and all manners of pop and world music with his singular taste for prolix wordplay, multiple personas and conceptual adventure.
For Got A Girl, he has assembled a rich, enveloping sound world all its own, with hints of Laurel Canyon folk, yacht rock, and sunshine pop stylized and synthesized through sumptuous arrangements, intricate electronics, and unfettered melodic invention. Tracks like “Everywhere I Go” and the discotacular “Close To You” call up far flung locales both real and imagined, knit together by restless grooves, elastic dubby beats, and Winstead’s complex characterizations.
Got A Girl I Love You But I Must Drive Off This Cliff Now Track Listing:
1. Did We Live Too Fast
2. I'll Never Hold You Back
3. Close To You
4. Everywhere I Go
5. Last Stop
7. Things will never be the same
8. So Happy
9. Midnight flight
10. La La La
11. Da Da Da