Warpaint – an interview

Warpaint interview
May 2011

Warpaint, a band that’s causing waves across the music industry. The hype that surrounded these four women emerged as a small spark back in 2004, and over a prolonged period of simply playing live and dedicating the past 7 years to their art form, they have turned Warpaint into a roaring forest fire that is proving extremely difficult to extinguish. I chat to Stella and Theresa prior to their Lancaster Library gig.
“The cogs are greased!” Stella Mozgawa, the band’s charismatic drummer states.
“Yeah, I feel we’re in a really good place as a band right now,” says Theresa Wayman, “we’ve just got a really great groove going.” They sit there so relaxed in the library as they start talking. Stella and Theresa sit either side of the table with me at its head.
The band have been a real hit with the music media over the past 6 months or so, with publications across the spectrum relishing in the sound of this girl group. The thing is, this isn’t your average girl band. This isn’t all make-up, glitzy and glamour. Although, they share a lot more in common with modern pop than you would originally think. “Michael Jackson!” Stella excitedly responds to my questioning of their influences. “I remember driving to the studio every day when we were recording and I physically could not take this one track out of the CD player.” This sparks a conversation about pop music and its importance. “In my opinion, I don’t think Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson can ever be bettered. All the layers, and it’s so complex and ahead of its time.” An initial reaction to that answer would be surprising, but once you start listening to Warpaint’s debut album, The Fool, you can’t help but notice the pop structures. Perhaps “pop” is leaving behind its once negative connotations and moving towards one of the most important factors and contributions in modern day music.
As a live performance the band can be out of this world to watch. They admit themselves that playing live is so different when comparing it to other formats, “Playing live is so different to playing in your house or recording music in general. I don’t know. I guess I would say music is so much about feel that you really have to learn how to translate your song whilst being in a live setting and in front of other people.” Theresa says with a complete serious tone to her voice, “That brings about its own feelings and for the songs it brings about new feelings.” It’s true that whilst watching Warpaint’s live set, you see that the songs take up a whole new life form as they transform and evolve into something you can only explain once it has been witnessed. With Jenny Lee Lindberg on bass playing so close to Stella’s drum kit, it becomes so obvious that the connections and the relationship of this band are the key to the success of both their live set and their records. When you’re so close in a small room and witnessing those connections on stage, the audience gets lifted into a séance during the band’s most haunting tracks.
The live set totally consumes both the artists themselves and the audience together. Emily Kokal, the band’s primary singer performs the track ”˜Baby’ on her own and the crowd is in absolute silence. With the crowd close to tears, I ponder on what the band want from a crowd. “Leeds, last night, was really good. But Birmingham, they didn’t really say anything” Theresa complains which invokes laughter from Stella,
“What did you want them to say?” Maybe it’s so hard for a band to know whether or not their audience appreciates the live set when they are so captivated with what is going on onstage. When the room is silent, it’s a magical thing and when the room is roaring, it’s equally as positive.
They’re such a promising band and it’s clear from their opinions that they are heading in the right direction, “Usually the people that like our music like a wide variety of music, they don’t pigeon hole what they listen to.” Theresa explains to me.  There’s such a wide variety of music out there at the minute that I find it very hard to find anyone in the present music climate that restricts themselves to one particular genre.
“There are artists now that are opening up people’s palates a little more and the songs are little longer or don’t have to be the same format. Artists that people are interested in – Interested the art of the band and what they’re going to do next.”
“Like Radiohead?” Theresa interrupts.
“I’m talking about Warpaint” Stella jokes.
The band has such a promising attitude to music and they already have the basis to move and progress even further. Their debut album, The Fool is phenomenal and they have the talent to keep it going. As they say, the cogs are most certainly greased and they have the groove and, most importantly the relationship and closeness with each other to work this to their full advantage.


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