By Bree Davies
By Emerald O'Brien
By Gina Tron
By Jon Solomon
By Drew Ailes
By Courtney Harrell
By Kyra Scrimgeour
People who have never been to Albuquerque or come into contact with music from that town have no idea that it's one of America's best-kept secrets. The Shins, the Rondelles and Scared of Chaka all came out of the Duke City. These days, Albuquerque is home to a vibrant and diverse experimental music scene, including the likes of Raven Chacon and Milch De La Máquina.
Yoda's House unintentionally entered that milieu when the band formed in March 2006, and has since toured nationally. Weaving together non-Western music and instrumentation with minimalism and jazz, Yoda's House has a sound reminiscent of the ambient work of Steve Roach, Michael Stearns and later-era Talk Talk. We spent some time recently talking with Joe Annabi about Albuquerque and the band's penchant for free appropriation.
Westword: How would you describe Albuquerque to someone who's never been there?
Joe Annabi: It's a great big truck stop with lots of buskers. The I-40/I-25 crossing may be the only reason this city exists. A lot of people who were just passing through kind of found their way here accidentally. Or people who said, "I want to go someplace I've never been before, in the middle of nowhere, on the opposite side of the country."
A lot of people end up here because they think of it as nowheresville. There's a lot of fringe existence here because it's pretty cheap. There are a lot of artists living on the cheap and people making ramshackle houses out on the mesa.
It's easy to have an off-the-grid-style life here on the grid. The Shins were from here originally, and they did a lot of their early work because of that cheapness. You don't have to work much to pay your way, and you get a lot of time to work on your creative endeavors.
Why call yourselves Yoda's House?
We were big on copyright infringement. We only had names that were intellectual properties that we were bouncing around. Another one we were talking about using was Team Zissou. I can't remember the other ones we didn't go with, but I think the reason Yoda's House won out was because we were living in a basement apartment where the windows were at ground level, and there was always dirt blowing in the windows.
It felt like Yoda's house is where we were living — a dirty underground dungeon kind of thing. There were bugs everywhere, and that name felt more relevant to our lives. I'm all about infringing on intellectual-property rights, but there was no disrespect meant toward Star Wars or Yoda, because we truly appreciate and grew up on all of that stuff.