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Interview: Mere Women Talk With Mermaidens

Interview: Mere Women Talk With Mermaidens

Mermaidens / Mere Women / Wednesday 13th June, 2018 2:55PM

Sydney post-punks Mere Women are returning to Aotearoa this week for a lightning round of shows at Auckland's Whammy Bar and Wellington's San Fran, playing in support of their politically-charged latest album Big Skies. They're joined for the Wellington leg of their tour by Taite-nominated trio Mermaidens for a double-headline extravaganza, so it only made sense to ask the bands to touch base for a chat before the main event. Both groups generously took time out to fire questions at each other via email, read their conversation below and catch them on stage this week...

Mere Women ask Mermaidens:

Our last trip (with an altered lineup to New Zealand featured a spot at Camp A Low Hum. Have you guys played it? What was your experience and what does it mean to not have it anymore?

Abe Hollingsworth: A Low Hum and Blink were really important parts of the independent music scene in NZ when I was a teenager. I would listen to bands like So So Modern, The Mint Chicks and Thought Creature and be so jealous that I couldn't be a part of it at the time. So when we got to play at the last CALH it was a super special moment, and it really felt like the moment we became a real band!

It's super sad that there is no more Camp, but at the same time that leaves the door open for more awesome festivals to grow, like Chronophonium (RIP), NOW, and Gathering in a Forest.

We’ve loved lots of bands from New Zealand over the years. How healthy is the music scene at the moment and who’s pricking your ears and eyes?

Gussie Larkin: I’m constantly impressed by the amount of bands coming out of New Zealand. Wellington is especially good at spitting out ridiculously unique bands that you wouldn’t find anywhere else in the world. I’m always keen to see what The All Seeing Hand and Orchestra of Spheres are going to do next - you may have seen them at CALH. Some others I’m loving at the moment are Wax Chattels, Womb, ONONO, Hans Pucket, Unsanitary Napkin… Heaps of great hip hop and electronic artists too - Estere, JessB, and Coco Solid to name a few.

Living in Sydney it can be tough to really give music (and other art) a substantial crack due to political constraints, agendas and the expense of the city. Does the music community feel supported in Wellington to be able to do what you do?

Lily West: Wellington is so good right now. In terms of audience, it’s the perfect scale to both support new acts and to sustain old news like us. While it’s not up to making us a salary, there is so much interest and momentum in the arts here. The music community that we are a part of just keeps growing around us. I think we all feel very lucky to have grown up here.

Best eats in Wellington?

Good Boy - amazing sandwiches in Newtown, worth the trek.
Aunty Menas - cheap, all vegetarian deliciousness. Basically on the doorstep of San Fran as well.
Customs - best coffee in town.

Mermaidens ask Mere Women:

There’s a quote in your bio that I found really interesting. Your music works to “actively break barriers and predictable, unimaginative musical structures that reinforce the status quo of male dominated popular music.” How did you communicate this idea in your latest record Big Skies?

This is something we've always tried to do musically by rejecting formulae song structures or reinterpreting them in different ways.

Big Skies, as an album, also deals with ideas surrounding societal gender constructs so takes this one step further by questioning the status quo of a male dominated society. We've been playing a long time now in a male dominated music industry and have always felt like we don't quite fit in neatly anywhere. I think that more and more we've come to own and enjoy that fact and might never fit in and Big Skies captures that for us.

We’d love to have more Australian bands coming over to tour New Zealand! Do you think Aussie bands are a bit resistant to hopping across the ditch? What made you want to play some shows over here?

We came to NZ in 2013 for Camp A Low Hum and had the time of our lives so have been wanting to get back over ever since. We also have a bunch of NZ mates and as outsiders we honestly believe that New Zealanders are the nicest people ever - another draw card! I guess it's a combination of financial and psychological barriers that stops Australian bands from crossing the ditch. I think that bands are also unsure about whether people know about them in NZ and they're not sure how to reach out to the right people for help.

Wellington bands and promoters are getting better at diversifying gig lineups in terms of gender balance. There’s still a long way to go, but it’s a start. Do you see a similar movement happening in your community in Sydney?

Absolutely! Things are changing for sure. When Mere Women first started out the Sydney music scene was extremely male-dominated and we really felt the brunt of that. We were often the only band with female members on a line-up and we had some horrible experiences. The horrible experiences are definitely becoming fewer and further between and it is not hard to find an inclusive lineup these days. Yes, there's a long way to go but there are so many legends in Aus right now trying their darndest to make music inclusive.

You can only use one guitar pedal for the rest of eternity. Which one do you choose and why?

I had to text our guitarist Flyn about this one but knew what the answer would be - his Dr Scientist Reverberator. Up until very recently this was the only pedal he had ever used in Mere Women. This pedal is a huge component of our sound. Also it is very pretty with its wood veneer finish!

Mere Women are playing at Auckland's Whammy Bar on Thursday 14th June with carb on carb and Polyester, and are sharing the bill with Mermaidens at Wellington's San Fran on Saturday 16th June. For tickets and more info see below...


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