Warpaint - Photo by Mia Kirby

Photo by Mia Kirby

Berlin. A tidy, interior-designed-nightmare of random hotel lobby, randomly morphing into a random hotel restaurant. Hotel staff wearing uniform, but no hats. A table, cups and glasses, bottles and napkins, Theresa Wayman and Stella Mozgawa from the band WARPAINT, furiously bored but willing to go on, waiting for the next reporter to come. Apposed table: Three assistants, probably concerned about what they call social media, clicking buttons on keyboards, most likely ordered: not to say a word or make noises louder than what Apple-engineers decided to be ok, held productive on organic snacks and what we call: Caffeine.

An imaginary question instantly popping up to authors mind while unwrapping from north pole proof wardrobe, switching on recorder and recovering from inhumane variation in temperature: What would you do, girls, if you weren’t in a cool band from california? Probably making out with UCLA-Quarterbacks while twittering on SONIC YOUTH, nail polish and how cool Ian Cohen is, right? America: Land of the Free! Germany: Land of an own Youporn category.


Your tour started some days ago. What did you do half the year before?
We made a record. It was all officially finished, mastered in September/August, but we had written the year and a half prior to that and officially started recording in January.


Where was it produced?
We recorded in Joshua Tree as well. It is outside of Los Angeles, in the desert. It looks like another planet. We wrote some of the songs there and recorded some of our demos. When we are writing, we record everything. Some of the demos we recored there are actually on the album and just been beefed up. That was a month there. It was cool because we were just in our own and different environment and were just able to focus on music. Then we recorded it in a studio in L.A. for six weeks and mixed it in London.

Is the place you are at a big influence on sound or even the writing?
There is a big influence. It’s about where you wrote the songs and who you’ve been hanging out with and what music you’ve been listening to. L.A. and Joshua Tree and the road. We just dated our ideas for so long, that they’ve been influenced by the whole world, feels like.


You were described as a californian band. I read you saying you wouldn’t know what that meant.
I still don’t know what that means.

It probably means whether you sound like beach or desert.
Our sound is expansive and open. Our music feels very natural and doesn’t necessarily sound like we’re in a forest I guess. It feels pretty deserty.


Is WARPAINT a spiritual band?
We try to be conscious of lots of different things in our environment. We are all women as well so we are sensitive to the way we all feel.


WARPAINT: “If I were a DJ I’d be spinning mostly hip hop”

Do you get asked a lot whether it’s important that you are all women or not?
We get that asked a lot, but i don’t think it’s very important necessarily. It makes a difference tough. I think the way women communicate with each other is different than men do.

Is it more emotional?
Even if you are feeling the same thing, — I think men are just as emotional as women, except they express themselves in a different way. Women are more drawn to communication and things like that: communicating in a particular way. And men typically communicate in another way. I think that translates into music as well. So I think there is an awareness what happens when we play music together and there could be some spiritual aspect to that, but i don’t think it’s conventionally spiritual. I think the most important thing for us is that our music is honest and real. I think its more important than fitting into a box of spirituality or emotion or anything like that. If I ever feel spiritual about something it’s generally about writing music. So in that way i think we are spiritual, because thats the kind of where we get the things, the inspiration that people get when they go to church or something in the process of writing.

It’s like exploring life and the mystery of life through music as opposed to the bible. We become our own sort of pastors while we are writing music. That might sound very extreme but I definitely feel when I take the time to exercise my creativity, I feel like I’m touching on all those unknowns and all the questions that people have about, or I have about the universe or myself.

How do your songs develop? Are you jamming or is it more static?
I think we’ve done both now. I think we know who we are in both of those environments. There is not just one way we make music these days. We are capable of figuring out how to synthesize something when we are jamming and make something into a song. There are some songs on the record that came about with us just jamming and there are others that came about with one person sitting in their bedroom and thinking up a riff or a melodic idea and then applying that to the group.


Doesn’t the content of the lyrics, the narrative, become less important compared to the sound of a voice as a sound itself in the process of writing songs like that? Jamming?
No, I don’t think so. I think it’s really important. Because they are written down, they are still there, they’re still audible. If they weren’t important I would just like make a bunch of noises. I really love music that’s got a really loud, strong vocal. I think pulling back on the instrumentation leaves more room to hear the vocals and I think they have a stronger part on our new album than they had on the last one. That was like a conscious effort to make everything clearer.


I read you describing the narration of your first records songs quite explicit and precise. Is that still possible with the songs from your new record? Or did you follow a different approach?
It’s definitely not any narratives going on in my…is it? I dont know if we have even thought of that. I think everyone of us is becoming more comfortable with the way they want to express themselves. Instead of it being almost accidental. We are comfortable with the process we’re gonna use and the steps we’re gonna take to get to a particular emotion pinned down.


Could you describe a song from the new record? Like “Disco/very” for example?
It is about us and how we have to be a strong unit an be us against the world; kind of in a sense. That sounds really dumb but its true. How I feel like these ladys called me out from my own world an brought me up. That was my response to what I felt Jen was saying, because she’s like standing up for her crew of girls and we are a force to be reckoned with. In that same sort of hip hop kind of way. You know how hip hop artists are always bigging themselves up and their buddies. Its like that kind of feeling and it was the approach to that song, too. Like: Ok Jen, you do your verse ill do my verse and emily do yours. In hip hop there is always the hype man .. and someone says a word like: fruitbowl. And the others are like: Yeah, fruitbowl! Yeah. I agree what you’re saying and then building up from that.. dissing everyone else…


Hip Hop quite obviously comes to mind listening to your records. Do you listen to Hip Hop a lot?
We have always all listened to Hip Hop music and Trip-hop and music with beats. I value Drum and Bass more than anything i think. Those two elements and a melody are my one, two, three kind of thing. It’s what I would do first and then I would add the other elements, which I think are necessary, too, but it’s like that deserted island question if you could have three of the elements…it would be drum and bass and voice…You can get really far with that and then if you have other things you’re lucky.

What kind of hip hop were you listening to?
I always used to listen to WU-TANG CLAN and EASY E. When I was really young one of my first boyfriends liked TOO SHORT. OUTKAST was a big influence. And now all kinds of hip hop music… I love it..a lot. If I were a DJ I’d be spinning mostly hip hop. I could listen to that longer than I could listen to a guitar solo.

Why don’t you do hip hop then?
It’s not what we’re drawn to as a band. We are aware of what we are capable doing. I think all of us could have easily done many different things. It’s always fun to be able to explore everything within a medium of what you are doing.


Mark Ellis (Flood) who produced artists like NICK CAVE or DEPECHE MODE did your record, how was it to work with him?
It was fine. It was good. And it was challenging.

Because he has done so much before?
No, because I think it’s challenging to do a record in general. It’s just interesting to meet someone new. And when you are gonna be working with them, you all have to have a good working relationship with that person. It’s very necessary for collaborating on something as personal as music.


You’ll have to be very, open which makes you kind of vulnerable.
You’ll have to get comfortable with being able to show your vulnerability.

Was it a bigger task than before?
It didn’t feel like that. It felt really natural. And it felt like we all related on a human level. It was meeting of two minds. Even tough he has so much more experience, he wanted to work with us, too, because we are different than anyone he has worked with before and he wants those challenges. He likes working with these new experiences so he was excited what he could learn from us too.