TUnE-yArDs is the music project of New England native Merrill Garbus. This clap-along tune was released as the first single from her third album Nikki Nack. Garbus worked on the project with bass player Nate Brenner at a studio in Oakland, California.
The song was inspired by a water fountain along Oakland's Lake Merritt. Garbus often brainstorms songwriting ideas whilst walking by the lake. She told NME: "I find there's a natural pace when you're walking, which helps me practice lyrics and rhythms in a stream-of-consciousness way."
The song has been interpreted by some as a commentary on the decline of the singer's community and others as being about worldwide water shortages. However Garbus told NME; "The songs aren't about anything. There's no way you can translate all those lyrics into one specific meaning. They're all over the place."
Garbus launched the Water Fountain fund in December 2014 dedicated to water issues around the world. The songstress contributes $1 from every ticket sold on tour to the fund, as well as a portion of revenue from sales and licensing of Nikki Nack. "I was having a lot of anxiety about water in my own community, where there has been a huge drought," Garbus told Billboard magazine. "Water is going to be a big source of conflict in the world."