October 26th, 2008 | Interviews

dan monick

Download: Warpaint “Billie Holiday”


(from the self-released Exquisite Corpse EP)

When is your EP coming out? [This EP actually just came out—ed.]
Emily Kokal (guitar/vocals): We don’t really know—we’re waiting on some rights.
For ‘My Guy’?
EK: We’re gonna do it legally. We’ve been doing it legally. Once that’s worked out, we’re gonna at least do a thousand pressing. There’s five songs. If you’ve heard our Myspace, you’ve only not heard one. ‘Beetles.’ And actually ‘Burgundy’ as well.
Theresa Wayman (guitar/vocals/keys): ‘Beetles’ is our own strange creation! All of our personalities rolled into one in a way you wouldn’t expect to go together.
EK: Kind of like what you’d expect from a musical. There’s a track from the film Xanadu, where Olivia Newton John has got the sweet sexy thing she’s doing with the girls, and then the dude has his thing, and they go back and forth between the two different vibes. We only go back once. But it’s a real driving part, and then a dreamy interlude floating through space, and then back to rocking out.
TW: And I do kind of a sing-song-y rap thing about what I’m doing right now—driving in traffic, trying to keep shit together and getting frustrated. It comes from an angst-y place but I wouldn’t say it’s super-angst-y.
What’s the best rhyme?
EK: ‘Fuck it / where’s my shit? / Oh my God / I’m mad at it.’
Very real.
TW: And Emily comes in and you’re like, ‘Oh, I’m in love!’ Whatever voice that is because she’s chilling in her bed.
EK: Just dreaming about the cosmos.
Is that your default psychological state?
EK: 100%.
Who do you mesmerize more often—yourselves or your audience?
EK: I don’t know—I have my eyes closed most of the time.
TW: At our last show, this guy ended up with his shirt off standing up front swaying there. He was staring into a glowing flashing light ball orb and he looked like he was tripping on some psychedelic. But he wasn’t. He came up.
EK: ‘I know I was probably freaking you out, but I was just feeling it.’
TW: He came up normal, but by like the second song he had his shirt off.
So by the end he was halfway naked?
TW: Yeah.
Good thing you didn’t play twice as long.
EK: People just get sweaty and naked when they watch us play. That’s our default audience. And all falling in love.
TW: Do we sound alike? We’ve been Siamese twins mimicking each other for the last ten years.
EK: Ten years? We started saying ten years ten years ago.
Where did you meet?
EK: Choir class. In the halls of Roosevelt Middle School in Eugene, Oregon. We used to walk to school together every day singing.
What is the most interesting quality new drummer Dave Orlando brings to the band?
TW: His dudeness. The fact that he’s not gonna add one more crazy feminine overanalysis dynamic. Was that just dissing my race?
EK: He’s really super-passionate about music because he’s a DJ and that’s what he’s been doing so long, so he brings cool knowledge.
TW: He also hears music in a really technical way—it’s not just intuitive. We can totally rely on him.
EK: A really good heartbeat for this body of Warpaint and a really good canvas for us to explode on to.
TW: We’ve been a band for a few years, but we’re only now coming out with an EP. There’s stuff to navigate through our personal dynamic—we’re strong now. We got a solid connection with each other.
EK: Maybe some people have asked, ‘Wow, why haven’t you made a record yet? ‘You’ve only played a handful of shows.’ But the process for us has been a lot about exploring and learning and not pushing anything out til we feel ready. A lot of learning about yourself through whatever avenue you pick—whatever you put your energy into. That’s kinda what Warpaint is about.
What have you learned?
EK: That nothing’s personal. Ultimately everyone is just trying to figure things out for themselves, and the best thing is to collaborate and share and be there for each other and experience and create with each other. So how to share.
What was your longest car ride together?
EK: We went to Vancouver together to play and write and hang out. We wrote music on the mouth of a cove.
TW: There were mermaids—lots of mermaids there. It was called Deep Cove. And we learned from them how to be the hypnotic sirens we are.
Mermaids are half-naked.
EK: Maybe we’ll just play naked.
Thanks for giving our website one million hits.
TW: I’m gonna say ‘naked’ in every interview from now on.
EK: Change our name to Naked Warpaint. Naked Paint.
Have you ever thought about reversing what you’ve done with ‘My Guy’ and taking like a Nico song and making it very poppy and cheerful?
EK: So funny—I’ve been listening to Nico’s Desert Shore. Pretty constantly obsessing over one song called ‘Afraid.’ It’s actually really hopeful. But that’s a good idea—she’s the queen of dark!
What is your most uncharacteristic song?
TW: The one I sort of sing a little bit on? ‘6844’—reminds me of sort of a dubbish ‘Girl From Ipanema.’ It just sounds way happier than everything we do.
What’s your happiness cut-off?
EK: I don’t know if there’s a cut-off. I don’t think it’s our natural musical template, though.
TW: I just don’t go there. I spend 90% of my time depressed.
Do you really spend 90% of your time depressed?
TW: Yes.
What about the other 10%?
TW: I get really really happy.
So it averages out.
EK: That’s called mania.
What’s your most ambitious idea for recording?
EK: Some kind of concept record—some focus, some story, something. I’d like for us to move in a ‘performance’ direction for shows—like for every show and record, not just always a typical standard rock band. Just like those bands that stand there in their normal day clothes and play songs like they are on the record, instead of presenting more of a reason to go watch a show. And it’s fun for us to explore different sides of our personalities and characters.
So do like a Prince plus Ziggy Stardust thing?
TW: It’s cool to explore—like per album—different genres in a sense. With our twist on it. We start off practice jamming and often times it’s like, ‘Whoa, that song sounded like we were a London punk band from the ‘60s!’ It’d be fun to consciously explore that era—really go into it for a time. Always our sound but also different. There’s something really valuable when someone knows how to play an instrument but doesn’t know it that well—value that comes out musically. That’s how we are for sure. Still having the innocence of a teenager just starting.
What’s your favorite simple song?
TW: ‘Creep’! So simple—it’s amazing!
EK: A lot of ‘50s songs. Elvis songs. Anything that’s kind of simple but super-poignant with a lot deeper meaning. Songs about liking somebody but really it’s about having sex—but totally shrouded! I really like that song ‘Gloomy Sunday.’ Billie Holiday. About how she was going to kill herself because her man died, but she was only dreaming.
That song used to be banned because it was thought to inspire suicide.
EK: Sad songs make me happy—make me feel alive! They hit home! Not because I’m super-depressed. That music just really resonates—it’s just really honest.
Is that what attracts you to darker music?
EK: Something I do when I’m practicing is play really repetitively something that might be considered to have a dark vibe. It’s centering and calming. It makes me feel like I’m connected to the moment, for lack of a better word. Just a way to tap into creative energy in general—taking it to a level where I feel really tranced out and meditative and subtle. That usually sounds pretty dark to me.
Your old drummer Shannon said once that whatever you are, you aren’t country—are you still not country?
EK: I definitely don’t feel like I’m not country. I have some major country roots. Not new country but I love old country music—I think that’s in there.
TW: Are you allowed to say, ‘Just buy our album and you’ll know what’s up?’
You’re required to say it.
EK: There’s no limit to what’s coming through. At our best we’re unfiltered.