Warpaint released their moody, psychedelic debut album The Fool last year and has received rapturous applause ever since. Charlotte Ryan from Morning Glory on 95bFM caught up with drummer Stella Mozgawa, to discuss how she met the rest of the girls, how she would describe their sound and why she has an Aussie accent!
Iím very surprised you have an Australian accent!I know thatís been the surprising element of the band in the last year and Iím glad to be a part of that.
Tell me a little bit about it. How did this all come together with you being Australian?
Well, Iím from Sydney Australian and Iíve been living in the States for the past four years.
Tell me how you met the other girls. I hear you met at a Metallica concert?
Emily and I met at a Metallica gig, that is not a joke at all. I love them. It was a friend of ours who introduced the two of us initially. He runs a Conservatory of Music for underprivileged kids, school children and adults that want to learn - itís a community Music Conservatory in L.A in where we live in Silverlake. They have a yearly fundraiser and two years ago they had Metallica play and so Emily and I met there. Iíd heard of the band and Iíd seen them live previously and I really enjoyed it. I think they had a revolving door of drummers at that point and there was a mention of me playing with them at some point, but they were busy with other people who were trying their hand at it. I had to go out and make a living and play music to sustain myself over here, so it took two years before we actually sat down in a room and played with one another.
And that was to record an album right? They rang you up and asked you to record their full length with them?
Yeah, thatís initially what the discussion was, because I think it would be a bit scary to call someone up and be like Ďdo you want to record an album with us and can you commit to joining this band right now over the phone?í So thatís a true story as well, but Jenny called me while I was out on tour and they were at CMJ, which is where Rough Trade saw them play and started discussing signing them. At that point they didnít have a permanent drummer so they called up and said Ďrecord an album with usí and I was really into it. I was nervous and excited about joining a band that I was such a fan of!
What were they like as girls to hang out with?
Oh it was amazing from the get go. I think I had been pining for a long time to find a band that was genuine and wanted to work hard and make music that we would all get stoked on consistently - every day wanting to write and arrange a song in a manner we would be comfortable playing for the rest of our lives. Itís not just like a quick fix kind of situation. It was fun to have a little bit of a fire up my arse as well, like ĎOh youíve only got two weeks to think up all these parts I think the mind functions differently at these times and you donít labour over everything. It was like ĎOk that feels good letís move oní. I like that way of making music because when you listen back to something like that you can feel how inspired it is and how it comes from a natural place.
When you described the sound of Warpaint, what do you say, because I find it really hard to articulate?
Well, I do too and I think all of us do and weíre OK with that. I donít think when the girls started the band they said ĎOh letís be a freak folk bandí or ĎLetís be a psychedelic groupí, it was very much making music we enjoyed playing and if you heard it back youíd enjoy listening, so itís difficult to kind of classify it. Thereís nothing wrong with being conscious about which genre youíre applying to or entertaining but this is from a different place and itís difficult for me to say what it sounds like. I guess itís kind of experimental music in some ways but thatís just in the way itís created - we experimented with different options to see which one felt right and luckily when we come to a point where our ideas have been explored the one that feels right, feels right across the board and we all agree that that option is correct
How does the sound of the album come across live?
Thereís moments where itís similar Ė we donít want to stray too far from whatís on record because we like it, but at the same time when we first started playing the songs live in January we werenít really focusing on the fact that everything has to sound precisely as it does on record. I donít like going to see a band and hearing a visual version of what the record is. Itís about interpreting the songs as best we could to the album but not setting up too many rules. So I guess some songs do sound very similar to the album and some are re-interpreted with a backing track or something. There were some things we did, like sampling a drum machine or a synthesizer but thereís no extra two hands to do it live so we try to make it as exciting as it is on record and hopefully more so because itís live!
It sounds like you could jam some of the tracks out for ages?
There are total jam moments. We donít really have the same set every night and thereís moments where if we have five minutes extra weíll just play whatever we want and thatís really annoying for some people but itís fun for us. A lot of songs weíve written have come from those moments where we play on the end of a song and change it up.
Have you been to Laneway Festical before?
No, I havenít. I donít know when it started but it probably went for two years before I left for America, and I havenít been home while itís been active so I kind of missed the boat. I think itís become more prominent these days too - it was still kind of teething at the beginning. Iím really excited about playing and mostly excited about friends of ours who are going to be on the tour and bands who we love who havenít seen live so we feel really grateful that weíll be able to see them for free, every night.
Who are your friends who are going to be on the tour?
Yeasayer are good friends of ours - weíve done a few shows with them and weíve got kind of adjoining schedules so we see them in different pockets of the globe. I know one of your natives Ladyhawke and I havenít seen her for a really long time but I knew her when she lived in Sydney. Iím sure thereís a few other Aussie bands and stuff that it will be great to hang out with.
In NME you wrote the album with the intention that you could roll a joint?
Thatís kind of true, but NME is known for exaggerating some points or de-contextualizing them. We basically said we listened to the album in many different ways and when we finally came up with the track-listing that we liked we listened to it driving, being stoned, not being stoned, having a few drinks not having a few drinks and they jumped on us being massive LA stoners because that is an aesthetic thatís attractive to them. Thereís nothing wrong with being stoned and listening to the album, though!