The Ex Factor
By Alexandria Symonds
Photo: Tod Seelie
“I mean, it’s not, like, a breakup record,” Dark Dark Dark frontwoman Nona Marie Invie is quick to explain of the band’s third album, Who Needs Who (Supply & Demand Music). “All the songs aren’t about Marshall, or anything.”
Invie (above, center) is equally quick to admit, though, that parting ways with Marshall LaCount, who formed the band with her in 2006, was a driving force behind the 10 delicate, sophisticated folk-pop songs that comprise Who Needs Who. Invie and LaCount, both of whom identify as queer, ended their romantic relationship last year; a five-month hiatus from the group allowed both to embark on a process of self-discovery before reuniting in New Orleans to collaborate again. “I think a lot of the songs come from that place of figuring out where I am and what my path -- my own path -- is in the world,” Invie says from her home in Minneapolis.
On vacation in Berlin, LaCount (far right) echoes her sentiments: “I’ve called it a ‘dynamic year’ for myself,” he says in a deadpan manner that reveals his Midwestern roots. (Dark Dark Dark was founded in Minneapolis, but of its five members, Invie and bassist Adam Wozniak are the only ones who currently live there.) Still, he’s thoughtful about what the breakup has meant to him. “This alone time has been really valuable for me to start understanding the confusing gray areas of my queerdom,” he says. “I say ‘queer’ because I’ve never been able to say ‘I’m gay’ or ‘I’m straight’ comfortably and have it be the whole truth. So it’s been a cool period for that.”
The result of Invie and LaCount’s individual soul-searching is an album broader in its palette than the band’s previous material: LaCount cites the American pop of the ’60s and ’70s, Kate Bush, and classical and jazz music among the elements that inspired Who Needs Who, along with the Eastern European influences that marked their first two releases. One constant: Invie’s sweet, haunting alto. “When you want everything to stay the same, then things change,” she sings on “Meet in the Dark,” Who Needs Who’s striking penultimate track. “And I’ll never get tired of singing these songs.”
Who Needs Who is out now.