She & Him is an American indie duo consisting of Zooey Deschanel (vocals, piano, ukulele) and M. Ward (guitar, production). The band's first album, Volume One, was released on Merge Records in March 2008. The duo is augmented by session musicians Scott McPherson (drums), Chris Scruggs (pedal steel guitar, mandolin) and Mike Coykendall (bass, guitar).
Deschanel and Ward first met on the set of the film The Go-Getter, in which Deschanel had a starring role. The director, Martin Hynes, introduced them to each other and asked them to sing a duet together to be played at the end credits of the film. They decided to perform a Richard and Linda Thompson song titled "When I Get to the Border." The two bonded over a shared interest in the records produced by George Martin and Phil Spector, as well as certain Ralph Peer groups, such as the Carter Family.
Ward, having heard Deschanel sing previously in the film Elf, was surprised to learn that she wrote songs herself, but hadn't pursued a career in music. Deschanel commented in an interview with Venus Zine: "I always thought I would be able to sing and act, but at a certain point, it became difficult for me to share the music part. So I was writing a ton of music, but not really doing anything with it. I didn't really know exactly who to collaborate with... until I met Matt, and everything seemed to fall into place." Deschanel had actually done years' worth of home demos, but was shy about becoming a big-name celebrity. On a whim, she decided to send them to Ward. Ward called her a short time later, telling her that he would like to record her songs properly, and their band She & Him was formed. Deschanel said in an interview: "I always have loved music, ever since I was really little. I just loved to sing."
2006-2008: Collaboration and Volume One:
The pair originally collaborated via e-mail, with Ward working out of his Portland, Oregon studio and Deschanel in her Los Angeles, California home. The city had a huge influence on Deschanel's songwriting and music, evoking long drives along the coastal roads listening to Brian Wilson and golden oldies, jam music on 1970s AM radio. The Californian music scene also fed into Ward's production of the album, to such an extent that it inspired some of his later guitar work with alt-country singers like Jenny Lewis.
They recorded in Portland in December 2006 and February-March 2007. The album was completed in three sessions. They also recorded in Mike Coykendall's and Adam Selzer's studios, and had a mixing session with Mike Mogis in his Omaha, Nebraska studio in either April or May 2007. Deschanel wrote all the original songs on the album except "Sweet Darlin'", which she co-wrote with Jason Schwartzman. In addition to the 10 original songs, the album features two cover songs "You Really Got a Hold on Me" (Smokey Robinson), and "I Should Have Known Better" (John Lennon and Paul McCartney).
They took a break after that as Ward was on tour and Deschanel was filming a movie. Their album was released on March 18, 2008. Their first public appearance as a band, however, was a year and two months earlier at the Sundance screening of The Go-Getter. They performed sporadically at other events and kicked off their first tour in the summer of 2008. Paste Magazine declared She & Him's debut the No. 1 album of the year.
She & Him performed at the South by Southwest festival in March 2008 and went on tour during July and August 2008. Becky Stark of the band Lavender Diamond provided backup vocals.
2010: Volume Two:
On March 17, 2010, She & Him released their second album, Volume Two. The album features 11 original songs written by Zooey and covers of NRBQ's 1977 single "Ridin' in My Car" and Patience and Prudence's "Gonna Get Along Without You Now", as well as a guest appearance from the indie pop group Tilly and the Wall on the track "In the Sun".
She & Him toured through the spring of 2010. They performed concerts throughout the United States including the music festivals South by Southwest, Coachella, Bonnaroo, Savannah, Sasquatch, Nateva, Verge and the inaugural LouFest in St. Louis, headlining with the likes of Broken Social Scene, Jeff Tweedy and Built to Spill. They also toured Europe, visiting London, Madrid, Barcelona, Paris, Berlin, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Oslo, and Amsterdam. They were chosen by Matt Groening to perform at All Tomorrow's Parties music festival in England.
2011-2013: A Very She & Him Christmas and Volume 3:
A Very She & Him Christmas was announced on Pitchfork.com in September 2011. The twelve track Christmas album was released October 24, 2011 under Merge Records.Amazon.com said on 29 December 2011 that the album was one of its top three best-selling MP3-albums over the Christmas period.
Deschanel confirmed on Twitter that a new album would be released in early 2013.Volume 3 was subsequently announced, with a release date of May 7, 2013 (May 13, 2013 for Europe). She & Him toured the US and Canada in support of Volume 3 in the summer of 2013. Supporting acts along the tour included Tilly and The Wall, Camera Obscura, Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell and The Chapin Sisters.
2014-present: Record label change and Classics:
On June 27, 2014, it was announced that She & Him had left independent label Merge Records and had joined major label Columbia Records, with their fifth studio album, Classics, scheduled to be released later in the year. The next month, Deschanel and Ward were photographed with Brian Wilson in the studio recording his forthcoming album No Pier Pressure which features Deschanel as a guest vocalist on the cha-cha-esque track "On the Island".
Zooey Deschanel - lead vocals, tambourine, piano, ukulele, lyrics,
M. Ward - guitar, backing vocals, piano, production