Warpaint's Stella Mozgawa: "Every Song Is From Its Own Universe"

Photo by Mia Kirby/Courtesy of Beggars USA
It's been a few years since Warpaint mesmerized Houstonians in a live setting -- nearly three years to the day, in fact. But the group is finally set to return to Houston.

Tomorrow night, the quartet of Emily Kokal, Theresa Wayman, Jenny Lee Lindberg and Stella Mozgawa will headline upstairs at Fitzgerald's in support of their sophomore LP, Warpaint. The album, featuring singles "Love is to Die" and "Disco//very," was written, recorded and produced over a span of four years with the help of producer Flood (Depeche Mode, PJ Harvey) and mixing on select tracks by Nigel Godrich (Beck, Radiohead). Warpaint represents the most accurate reflection of the group's talents thus far, and although they've been touring heavily since its release in January, Rocks Off was lucky enough to catch some one-on-one time with drummer Stella Mozgawa in between the group's two Coachella performances.

Rocks Off: Hi Stella, how are you? Where are you?
Stella Mozgawa: I'm very good, just lying down in our rehearsal space in Downtown Los Angeles at the moment.

How was Coachella?
Pretty amazing, really fun. We got so lucky with our spot. The Coachella gods really shined down on us. Julian Casablancas and his new band played before us, and we were followed by RL Grimes and Pixies.

Warpaint's 2010 debut LP, The Fool
The last time you played Houston, it was a tiny room to a sold-out crowd. How are you guys feeling about returning?
We love Houston, it's actually one of our favorite cities. It's like there's something in the water! People are so nice and always really receptive to the music.

I know you came into the band later on in the process for [2010 debut album] The Fool. How was it working with your bandmates on an album from start to finish?
Yeah, I've been in the band almost five years. It feels like an eternity! I definitely feel more part of it because it's the four of us together from beginning to end. This album spans us getting off tour, to new material, to recording and mixing. All four of us are really invested in this for sure.

One thing about Warpaint is how alive it feels. The album is really sexy and sensual, but it also shows the band's goofy bits at times. It really lures the listener in in a way that doesn't seem to happen with a group of men. Did you all play on that intentionally?
On a basic level, it's hard to compare four humans to another set of four humans, but it's a definitely a force. We have a dynamic and energy that can't be recreated with another four people. I think that's what keeps us together -- knowing that we have something quite unique.

Photo by Robin Laananen/Courtesy of Beggars USA
So expanding on that, I read somewhere that you all worked on these songs during jam sessions and even in sound check. How did that all come together to form this album?
Every song is from its own universe, really. There was no set time, no general format or formula. Each one has a different approach. Some of the songs are actually recordings that might be built upon marginally or even on an obtuse level, but this record definitely has an archaeology.

For instance, you could listen to one song and find that this drum and bass comes from our space in mid-2012, or this structure comes from this or that. It really has a richer history, because it came from a concentrated period. And our producer, Flood, really allowed us to maintain our recordings and build upon them.

Yeah, he did an amazing job. How did that relationship come to fruition?
We were keen on experimenting on new things, and once we had this sonic power, it became more apparent that someone like Flood would approach the music with care. We knew we would be in good hands if we decided to go that route. Flood was the only name that was being thrown about when we decided we were going to make another record. We were in London when we were flirting with the idea of using him, and it felt like he was on the same page even though he's worked with semi-commercial artists.

Interview continues on the next page.

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2706 White Oak, Houston, TX

Category: Music

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