Pop Quiz: Tune-Yards

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Aidin Vaziri | Whether pondering the human condition or the percussion sound created by a bag of rice, Merrill Garbus’ mind never stops working. As Tune-Yards she gets to bring her ideas to life. The outfit’s latest effort, “Nikki Nack,” is as edgy and experimental as ever, even with assists for the first time from a pair of outside pop producers – Malay (Frank Ocean, Big Boi) and John Hill (Rihanna, M.I.A.). Garbus, who plays two sold-out shows at the Fillmore this week, spoke to us at her home in Oakland.

Q: You worked with outside producers for the first time. Was it hard giving up control?

A: I don’t think I gave up any control in the end. I gave up a dictatorship. This is still my vision. I was scared and angry that I felt like this was something I had to do. In the end, it couldn’t have gone any better.

Q: I had a nerve-racking moment watching you on “The Tonight Show,” thinking mainstream America isn’t ready for this. How did it feel on your end?

A: You might notice the first 20 seconds I’m scared. I don’t remember to breathe and my voice is all trembly. Honestly, if it weren’t for the back row of that audience – I could see their faces for some reason, and they had this look of wonder. That’s what got me through it. I really try hard not to think of the effect of this music on people or this culture as a whole. That’s not my job. That’s your job. I thought we made a very strange and challenging album.

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