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No. 10, “Umbrella,” a ukulele-driven ditty that’s a little bit folk, a little bit pop, and not at all Rihanna. Alexander Abnos, who handles pretty much all the instrumental duties for Tut Tut, recalls the stormy day when a loved one’s plane did not arrive: “At half past 8 the rain it came/You’re closer now than all before/But I saw TV, and I saw your plane/Now it ain’t raining anymore.”
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Abnos, a George Washington University student living in Foggy Bottom, admits he borrows others’ ideas for his songs, but what he winds up with usually sounds quite different than his inspiration. When he wrote “Umbrella,” he was listening to Mirah’s 2004 album, C’mon Miracle. “I wanted to have that kind of low-key song,” he says. A song about a plane crash is low-key? “It’s an overdramatized version of a friend of mine coming in,” he says. “I thought they were coming in on a certain day, and they weren’t coming in on a certain day.”
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Abnos, 22, started his musical career as a drummer. When he wanted to learn more instruments, he first turned to the guitar but decided it had “way too many strings,” he says. “I just couldn’t get my mind around it. I couldn’t make anything that sounded cool.” Then he took some inspiration from Marilyn Monroe. “One of the cassette tapes my mom had in the house…was Some Like It Hot.…It stuck in my mind.” The ukulele proved easier, though he was disappointed to learn that indie darling Zach Condon figured that out before him. When Abnos first heard Beirut, he thought, “Damn, somebody stole my shtick!” he says.