Sundance Film: Ingrid Goes West
Thorburn was born in Campbell River, British Columbia, Canada, which he says has influenced his songwriting. Nature, in particular whales, are a subject of interest; his lyrics include references to rivers, swans and frogs. He also had a formative experience in a visit, along with his father, to see the killer whale Luna; his memories of the visit became an influential part of Islands' debut album Return to the Sea.Thorburn has fronted the Unicorns, Th' Corn Gangg, Islands, Reefer, and Human Highway. Thorburn has gone by the stage name "Nick Diamonds." His vocals have been noted as a distinguishing feature of the Unicorns and Islands. His production technique involves dark personification over enjoyable music, though he is "usually wary of composing dance tracks." This contrast is observed in his live performance as well. In 2005, he co-wrote with Adam Gollner the satirical charity song "Do They Know It's Hallowe'en?" organizing the collaboration of many artists. He guest performed on Les Savy Fav's 2007 album Let's Stay Friends.Reefer, his collaborative album with producer Daddy Kev as Reefer, was released on Alpha Pup Records in 2008.[11 Thorburn has made an album with Honus Honus (also known as Ryan Kattner) of the band Man Man: "One thing that has been floated around is Honus Honus from Man Man and I making a record in a new (sub)genre we are developing, called Doom Wop, which is essentially low frequency, and extremely slowed down music atop traditional doo wop harmonies. Or something." The project, called Mister Heavenly, also involves drummer Joe Plummer of Modest Mouse and The Black Heart Procession and has had actor Michael Cera playing bass on the tour. He released the solo album, I Am an Attic, on his Bandcamp page in 2011. Thorburn was featured on the 2012 El-P album Cancer 4 Cure, singing the chorus of the track "Stay Down". In 2014, Thorburn composed the theme music and score for the critically acclaimed podcast Serial. In 2015, he released a second solo album titled City of Quartz.