Q&A: Michael Hearst of One Ring Zero and The Recipe Project

Brooklyn duo One Ring Zero — multi-instrumentalists Michael Hearst and Joshua Camp — are known for finding their lyrics in unconventional places. In 2007, they released As Smart As We Are (aka The Author Project), an album with lyrics written by big-name authors like Jonathan Ames, Margaret Atwood and Dave Eggers; last year, they wrote songs about the solar system, and you can probably guess what Hearst’s Songs for Ice Cream Trucks is about.

Their latest, the just-released book/album combo The Recipe Project, was the biggest challenge yet: Take recipes from rockstar chefs like Mario Batali, Michael Symon, David Chang, and Isa Chandra Moskowitz, and put them to music — word for word — in a genre of the chef’s choosing. Among the results are Moskowitz’s recipe for electropop peanut butter brunettes, Tom Colicchio’s R.E.M.-channeling creamless creamed corn and Chris Cosentino’s rap-rock “brains and eggs.” In the book, the recipes are accompanied by interviews with the chefs, as well as essays from notable food writers about their own culinary and musical journeys: A couple of my favorites are Kara Zuaro’s story about a touring Chicago band and pop cake (which I’ve made before!), and Emily Kaiser Thelin’s about being the only girl working in a London kitchen.

I chatted with Hearst about using other people’s words, why he (perhaps surprisingly) doesn’t like recipes, and what happens when you give Mario Batali a cookie.

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