Warpaint Interview

_A band name inspired by the title of one of their early songs, Warpaint has been gestating since 2004. With a core group of Emily Kokal (vocals), Jenny Lee Lindberg (bass), and Theresa Wayman (guitar), the band were eventually joined by Stella Mozgawa (on drums) in time to record their debut album, The Fool, which was released in October 2010 to critical acclaim. Dean Simons catches up with Stella to discuss the band’s current activities, new material, and how she came to become the fourth core member of the group._

**What have you guys been up to since you released the album in October?**

Pretty much touring constantly. Not a great deal else. We haven’t really had much downtime but we’ve managed to find a little time to get back into the studio and record a new song. We’ve been working on that a little but there hasn’t been much time to spare in general. Pretty much just working.

**So you have more material on the way then?**

Yeah, definitely. We don’t have an album’s worth of material right now but we have enough to start getting into the writing process.

**If you’re touring, how do you come up with it?**

This has been the first year and a half of touring for the band, but the band has been writing for the last seven years so this is a very new thing. Being creative on the road, while we’re touring and during downtime. It’s something that we’re still learning how to do properly. So our plan right now is to perfect writing on the road and use all of our spare time to craft some great new material.

**The song that you mentioned going into the studio to start recording – can you describe it? Does it have a name yet?**

It’s kind of changed a little bit throughout the band’s history. Right now it’s sort of tightened in and we like all the parts, but there’s nothing specific just yet.

**What’s your favourite song that the band has created?**

I really like ‘Shadows’ on the LP. I like ‘Bees’. ‘Undertow’ is cool as well. It’s hard to pick a favourite or any favourites but those are fun to play live.

**What makes the song ‘Shadows’ significant?**

Just the way that it was created in the studio was quite novel. It was something we hadn’t done before. We didn’t necessarily have the song finished when we went into the studio. We didn’t entirely have all the arrangements. It was all just completed and put together when we were there. Someone would put down a part, then the bass would come in and then we’d figure out what to put on top of that whilst still leaving enough space to manoeuvre.

**You came to the band fairly late on, in 2009, when the band had been around in some shape or form since 2004. How did you join them?**

We knew each other through mutual friends. I was well aware of the band and they had met me a few times through mutual friends of ours. There was a moment when their last drummer had to go off and do something else. Once they were back to just being three members they called me up and asked me if I wanted to make an album with them and now here we are.

**The music on the album has an art or psychedelic rock slant, is that the style of music you are generally into, as band?**

It wasn’t a conscious decision to emulate that style or go for that type of music on the album. We never really just listen to one type of music or any one particular band or have any specific intention; we always just do whatever comes naturally when the four of us are in a room together. It’s through the four of us that we end up with our style of music and whatever comes from that, whether its good or bad, it comes from that chemical reaction between us.

**What were you doing before you joined Warpaint?**

I was actually doing a lot of session work – going on tour with a lot of other artists and working in the studio, things like that. I really enjoyed it but I knew when it was time to move on from that, and I really felt it.
I was doing those types of gigs where, after a while, when you get in the wrong kind of mood, it can feel pretty soulless.

**Any name drops?**

Lots of Australian bands and lots of people in other bands in America and stuff but probably no one you’d know.

**Did you meet the other members of Warpaint when you moved to LA or did you meet them when they were visiting Australia?**

The other members hadn’t been to Australia until a few months ago, so we all met in LA. None of the members are actually born and bred in LA, which is an interesting fact about us. We were all from different small cities around the world and we all just congregated in this one large metropolis. That’s how everyone met each other – except Emily and Theresa met in Oregon where they grew up.

**How does performing live compare to when you are recording in a studio?**

It’s a completely different beast. The [studio] environment alone is where you’re in a room with just your band and maybe two or three other people. Playing a show has an audience, which is far greater than that. It’s a pretty different thing: different rules, different anxieties, and different joys to it. Just a completely different beast.

**Do you prefer one to the other?**

No, I love both very much. I could easily spend my whole life in the studio; I could easily spend my whole life on tour. I would feel slighted without either of them.

**How would you describe the band live?**

We’re pretty energetic and it’s a little bit different to the record, at least. We’ve now had a little more time to perform live than we did to record the whole album. It’s not one particular thing, and it’s always something different every night; we always try to make each show special. Make it a unique experience. If you went to every one of our shows over ten days it wouldn’t be a “paint by numbers” kind of thing. It would never be the same twice.

**How do you make it different each night? Do you discuss it over breakfast or do you come up with it whilst you’re on stage?**

It’s really whilst we’re on stage. If someone just starts something and we feel like jamming then we just jam and maybe come up with silly songs on the spot and then play it for half an hour until everyone get bored, then we move onto something else…or just say goodnight. It’s a fun natural thing that occurs with us.

**Would you say the band is pretty casual or focused?**

I would like to think it’s a little bit of both and we fluctuate between the two. We don’t like to be too focused. Focus is a great thing to be all the time but we aren’t 100% sterile and serious, it doesn’t match our personalities. It’s never going to be the style of music we play. It’s not very clinical, it’s quite free and stuff. However, we normally take what we do very seriously. We’re not some indie, flippy-floppy art band that kind of does whatever they want. We do take it seriously enough to not be that and want to do really well with it.


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