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LAist Interview: Obi Best

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Photo by Koga for LAist

Alex Lily, an integral backing force for the prominent pop duo the Bird and the Bee, has gone solo. Her 2008 debut Capades is a beauteous amalgam of conscientious tunes that make you think as much as they make you bop. And she wants you to live in the swirling, whimsical world that is her head.

LAist: How did you start singing?

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OB: My mom would hear me sing Carmen and stuff like that when I was a little kid on my swing set. And I've always been really interested in music, but I didn't really learn to play anything until I was 12. So until then I would sing and make these really sad chicken scratches that were like physical notation, just like lines on a random piece of paper. I just used singing a lot to come up with things. But I wasn't really interested in learning how to play an instrument. So finally I got a piano when I was 13.

LAist: If we were back in high school and I had to come and find you, where would you be and what would you be doing?

OB: When I ask people about me and my crowd, it turns out that we were known as the freaks that hung out by the cars, which I think is one of the greatest descriptions but also kind of sad and pathetic because I kind of thought we were cooler than that. And why are we hanging out by cars, like that's sort of not a very good spot. We also had this dusty little patch of grass that we picked to smoke weed or other things. You know drug-taking, being promiscuous.

LAist: Back to the present. You sing back-ups for the Bird and the Bee. How did you guys meet?

OB: Well I had been admiring Inara for a long time—her solo stuff, actually. I sort of landed in the east side and went to Tangier, one of those collection of places that people gravitate towards that has interesting music and independent, cool stuff going on. I would stick around and talk to her. She's very charming and fun to talk to. I played a show at the same venue as the other booker that books both Inara and my band. He had heard that she was looking for background singers and he told her, "Why don't you ask the girl from Colorforms?" I knew her, but she didn't know who I was. So it was kind of fun getting a call, asking me to join her band.

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Obi Best - "Origami"