Artist: The David Wax Museum Video: 'Born With a Broken Heart' Highlight: "We…
- Posted on Feb 4th 2011 4:30PM by Emily Tan
Erik Jacobs, Anthem Multimedia
To give their new sound some authenticity, Wax adopted the jarana, an eight-stringed instrument that resembles a large ukulele, while Slezak picked up a more unusual instrument -- a donkey jawbone.
"When he came back and we were forming the band, he said to me one day, 'Hey, I want you to buy a donkey jaw bone,' so I did," Slezak tells Spinner. "I hadn't heard of it, but I saw pictures and [listened to] recordings of Mexican music that he shared with me of people playing it."
After plenty of practice -- and having to buy replacements after some teeth fell out -- Slezak has been able to formulate her own way of playing the animal piece. "Little by little, I've been picking up new techniques and getting better at it," she admits. "It's been a real crowd-pleaser. People just love watching the jaw bone, touching it afterwards and seeing how it works. The teeth are actually loose in it, and they waddle when you hit it. That's one of the cool sounds you hear."
Although some people would steer clear of even going near a deceased animal, Slezak associates her jawbone with a donkey she knew from her youth. "I actually grew up in Virginia on a farm and we had a donkey," she says. "There's a running joke because we had a donkey named Humphrey and one day Humphrey disappeared. I have this joke that Humphrey made his way to Peru and died of old age there and I'm now playing his jaw bone onstage every night. I don't know if that works out, but just the idea of playing an animal bone kind of fits with my upbringing and my sense of wanting to recycle and reuse natural things around me."
With her jawbone stylings and Wax's newly crafted songs, Slezak hopes David Wax Museum will be able to encourage others to look into Mexican music beyond the typical Mariachi band. "If we pique the interest of even 25 people, to have them look into Mexican music and its incredible complexity and diversity, that would feel like we're a success," she says.
David Wax Museum's 'Everything Is Saved' is due out Feb. 8.