By day, as photo and film archivist at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, Jesse Aaron Cohen tends to thousands of images of bygone Jewish culture. By night, he’s half of the Brooklyn-based “existential pop” duo Tanlines, whose new album, “Mixed Emotions,” will sound “absolutely stupendous when you’re driving during the daytime with your windows down all spring and summer,” according to the online music bible Stereogum.
Along with glowing reviews, the album’s spawned Tanlines’ first indie-radio hit, the hazy, pulsating “Brothers.” Back in his YIVO office after a whirlwind week of performances and shmoozing at the massive South by Southwest Music Festival, in Austin, Texas, “30-something” Cohen spent a few minutes with The Arty Semite.
Michael Kaminer: What was South by Southwest like for you and your Tanlines partner, Eric Emm?
Jesse Aaron Cohen: The shows were really good; we met our fans and did our job. At South by Southwest, you don’t have much time. You set up, play and think it’s terrible. Then someone tells you that you were amazing. It’s a microcosm of a career in music in general.
Your faces are on the cover of “Mixed Emotions” in close-up. Is that weird?