When indie sensations Conor Oberst and Phoebe Bridgers teamed up to form what would become Better Oblivion Community Center, they decided to keep their collaboration under wraps. The two acclaimed songwriters, both known for brooding ballads, were more sure of what they did not want to do than what they did.
"It was kind of my idea. I just didn't want anybody to hear that we had a project, and know both our music and make an assumption about what it sounded like," Oberst told CBS News' Anthony Mason. "Definitely wanted to avoid the kind of like duets album and you know, anything too tender and folk."
The duo recorded their covert collaboration last summer and dropped the self-titled album earlier this week, with the only hints being mysterious social media teases advertising a Better Oblivion Community Center.
They come from different musical generations. Oberst, who's 38, released his first album the year before Bridgers was born. They met at a concert in 2016.
"Like immediately I just heard her voice and I was like, 'Whoa, this is, you know, very special,'" Oberst said.
Bridgers, who's 24, released her critically acclaimed solo debut, "Strangers in the Alps," in 2017. Growing up in California, she was an avid fan of Oberst.
"I used to go to Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco with my mom, like very year. And Conor had a stage there. And so not only did I love Conor's music, but he curated all the bands for the stage. And I found out about so much of my favorite music that way," Bridgers said.
They started writing songs together casually, but the project kept getting bigger and soon realized they needed a band. The unusual name, was Oberst's idea. He liked it because it was, as he put it, "mysterious" and a "mouthful."
"So your old nickname, mysterious mouthful," Bridgers joked. "I haven't heard that since high school. That's crazy," Oberst replied.
Both have worked solo and in bands -- Oberst with Bright Eyes, and Bridgers, last year, with boygenius, an indie supergroup that included Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker.
"I like them both for different reasons," Bridgers said of being in a group. "There is something so nice about being able to look over and either share in the good feeling or a bad feeling."
"I am constantly afraid that I'm gonna hit Conor with my guitar. But other than that I think I'm pretty comfortable."
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