Women At Work: Warpaint
For Los Angeles foursome Warpaint, no song is ever completed. The band, composed of singer/guitarist Emily Kokal, bassist Jenny Lee Lindberg, singer/guitarist/ keyboardist Theresa Wayman and drummer Stella Mozgawa, makes music evolves and mutates—always shifting to embrace its current state of being. The tracks on the band’s debut album, The Fool, will never truly be intractable.
“The song ‘Warpaint’ has gone through every kind of change possible,” Kokal says at LA coffee shop The Fixx. “Every drummer we’ve ever had has played on it—it used to have keyboards on it [and] there was a completely different melody.
Even after Warpaint—who formed in LA in 2004 and rotated through six drummers and a short-lived drum machine—began cutting The Fool in the studio with producer Tom Biller early last year, the songs continued to grow. “Our songs are as finished as a working song can be finished until you press record,” says Kokal. “Otherwise, we’ll keep changing it. The longer we have it, the more we’ll keep changing it because we play it for so long. I think there was a point where we realized we need to stop re-writing the same four songs and write more songs.”
It’s the live renditions of the band’s delicately hushed indie rock numbers—which often feature extended jams—that have recently branded them as a bands to watch. “I don’t think we play any song as it is on the record,” Kokal says. “Some of them don’t translate—especially because Stella joined the band only a few weeks before we started recording. So there’s a certain naiveté in how we’re recording and writing—an energy level that’s a little bit more washy and mellower.”
Warpaint played over 140 shows in 2010 alone, ensuring that a heck of a lot of people heard its darkly hypnotic lo-fi melodies that resonate with nuanced and carefully layered simplicity.
“Our popularity didn’t happen all of a sudden since we’ve been playing for so long,” Kokal says. “It’s been a natural progression. I think we’ve gotten really tight as a live band and that makes a huge difference. You have a relationship with your audience and that’s been where we’ve really grown.”
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