“Get There,” a little release on Barsuk Records by a new act dubbed Minor Alps, is a dreamy folk-pop recording shrouded in murky boy-girl harmonies on tunes revealing vulnerability, such as “Lonely Low,” “Wish You Were Upstairs” and “I Don’t Know What To Do With My Hands.” It is the work of two alt-rock veterans, Juliana Hatfield and Nada Surf frontman Matthew Caws, who harmonized so well on each other’s previous records, they decided to co-write and cut a duets album, playing every instrument but drums themselves. Hatfield — who also has issued a new acoustic solo disc, “Wild Animals,” on her own Ye Olde Records — checked in as Minor Alps prepared to tour.
You recently enrolled in the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Yes. In 2011. It was a yearlong post-graduate program for fine art, and you had to have a college degree to get in. I’ve just always been a drawer, and I paint a little, but I wanted to have some more intensive study, a full course load.
Did anyone in class recognize you? Well, there were a lot of younger people in their 20s in there, but there were people my age, too. And yeah, there was a kid in one class who was a big fan. And my silk-screening instructor knew who I was. But for the most part, the kids had no idea who I was. Which was great.
You just suddenly felt the urge to enroll. Yeah. I was really curious about it. And I’m still really serious about my painting, study and practice. Because when I’m not working on music, I’m painting and/or drawing. At least privately. I’m working on it constantly.
Did college give you the courage to try Minor Alps? It was a lot scarier for me to go back to school in my 40s than it was to do this project with Matthew. Just because I knew that it would be easy to work with him. He’s such a great singer and writer — he’s a high-quality dude. So it’s like when you play tennis with someone who’s better than you — you play better, and it brings your whole game level up.
Minor Alps’ song “Buried Plans” paints you as an Emily Dickinson-type recluse. And Matthew wrote the lyrics for that! When I heard them I was like, “Wow! He’s writing about me and my life!” He wasn’t, of course. But a lot of what he talks about in his songs are things that I talk about in mine. So we explore similar territory in our work.
IF YOU GO
Where: Independent, 628 Divisadero St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Monday