Dirty Projectors are the creation of Dave Longstreth, a former Yale student who left college to become one of the most prolific and unique indie singer/songwriters of the early 2000s. In early 2002, Longstreth released his first album, The Graceful Fallen Mango, under his own name on the This Heart Plays Records imprint. Largely recorded on four-track with the help of friends in like-minded projects such as Wolf Colonel and Dear Nora, the album introduced Longstreth’s distinctive crooning voice and equally unique approach to arrangements and both lo-fi and hi-fi production. As he continued to record, Longstreth played shows with contemporaries like the Microphones, Bobby Birdman, and [[[[VVRSSNN]]]] (aka Yume Bitsu’s Adam Forkner). Forkner helped record his next album, The Glad Fact, which was the first to bear the Dirty Projectors name and arrived on Western Vinyl in fall 2003.
This was followed quickly by Morning Better Last!, an album culled from three triple albums he recorded in 2001 and 2002; it was an Internet-only release on States Rights. Slaves’ Graves & Ballads, which Longstreth described as “a song-journey for me singing with a ten-piece chamber group called the Orchestral Society for the Preservation of the Orchestra,” arrived in early 2004 as a split release on Western Vinyl and Happy Happy Birthday to Me Records. The 2005 album The Getty Address was a Don Henley-themed concept album that was followed a year later by the New Attitude EP. Rise Above from 2007 reinterpreted songs from Black Flag’s classic hardcore punk album Damaged, and then Bitte Orca appeared in 2009 with some of the band’s most accessible songs to date.
In 2010 the group collaborated with Björk on Mount Wittenberg Orca, an EP that benefitted the National Geographic Society Oceans Project; it was available only digitally for a year, then received a physical release on CD and vinyl in 2011. Their next proper full-length, Swing Lo Magellan, arrived in in the summer of 2012. After breaking up with his romantic partner and frequent collaborator Amber Coffman, Longstreth found himself writing songs that dealt with personal issues in a way he had not approached in the past. The songs formed the core of Dirty Projectors’ self-titled ninth album, released in February 2017.