WAR FOOTING: Q&A w/ Warpaint’s Stella Mozgawa

WARPAINT L-R: Jenny Lee Lindberg, Stella Mozgawa,Emily Kokal, Theresa Wayman by ROBIN LAANANEN

BY CLAYTON RUSSELL Warpaint is four L.A. ladies from the canyons of their own self-discovery, constantly morphing and re-inventing themselves, veering between straight up rock, atmospheric art rock and hypnotic dance music. For the past year they have been criss-crossing the globe in support of their acclaimed four-years-in-the-making self-titled sophomore LP,  which was produced by Flood (PJ Harvey, Nick Cave, NIN) and mixed by Nigel Godrich, aka Radiohead’s George Martin. In advance of their Union Transfer show tonight with Guy Blakeslee of The Entrance Band opening, we got Stella Mozgawa on the horn to get the lowdown.

PHAWKER: Why is the band name Warpaint?

STELLA MOZGAWA: There’s no one real easy explanation for that, there’s no real unified philosophy behind it. Its a band name and its a good band name. No M.O .necessarily

PHAWKER: Is Warpaint a rock band that detours into electronica or an electronica band that detours into rock?

STELLA MOZGAWA: Definitely neither of those, I think that the thing about our band is that we don’t quite define ourselves as either or those things. Or even anything because thats kind of limiting i think in general. Plus, it’s four people that make music together, and you can’t really funnel the personalities of those into just one kind of genre. I mean, if people think that we’re one or the other then that’s fine, but we just don’t think about that kind of stuff.

PHAWKER: Why did you choose Flood to produce the new album? And how did the experience of recording the new album differ from recording The Fool and Exquisite Corpse?

STELLA MOZGAWA: We made a conscious effort to bring in somebody who has a lot of clout and has worked with a lot of different people. We were taking that risk in working with somebody who to some people could be considered as having a sound or having a character. I think the risk definitely paid off. He’s such a chameleon and the fact that the work he’s done over the last few decades has such a variety to it, I think he doesn’t approach things with a unified vision. He’s very malleable in terms of this is the band, and this how the band works and ‘I’m gonna try and cultivate the good things about this band.’ It was very personal and kind of intimate which definitely works for us.

PHAWKER: Did he share any good stories of working throughout the years with bands like U2, Depeche Mode or Nine Inch Nails?

STELLA MOZGAWA: I was more interested in stuff he’s done with Nick Cave, PJ Harvey and artist like that. Yeah, a lot of stuff came out, I definitely shouldn’t and wouldn’t say anything, that would be very uncouth. He’s not that annoying guy that’s like ‘I’ve been around the block,’ you know “I’ve done so much stuff and I’m gonna regale all my stories.” It definitely always came from a such a humble and interesting place. It’s always interesting to hear how other people do things to get to the same place. It was definitely a very nice glimpse into a few different artists’ world.

PHAWKER: War Paint has been compared to acts as disparate as Cocteau Twins, Joni Mitchell, and Siouxsie and the Banshees? Do you think the comparisons are accurate?

STELLA MOZGAWA: It’s difficult to say because we don’t make music that intentionally sounds like someone’s music. But we all listen to those artist and hundreds of others, so there’s stuff that gets under your skin and comes out in different ways. You can’t really pinpoint it and say absolutely not, we are totally individual on our own little perch. We are just music lovers, that try and kind of absorb a lot of stuff the way that anyone else does that collects records and listens to music. And when you write something thats personal you kind of utilize the vocabulary that you’ve learned through listening over time.

PHAWKER: Who would you say some your inspirations are? I know you all come from different paths, but are there any mutual inspirations at all?

STELLA MOZGAWA: The Talking Heads and Aphex Twins, its really hard to explain the kind of stuff that brings us together. It’s usually something that has some sort of seductive quality to it, whether its rhythmically or emotionally. There’s interesting things we’re all drawn to, a lot of it is usually electronic or heavy in someway. I think that the best way to describe how we all meet in the middle.

PHAWKER: You ladies have been working non stop since this started, you’ve been on tour since January?

STELLA MOZGAWA: Yea actually we kind of been on tour since we mastered the record, which was in September of last year, so we started playing shows in late October or early November. We were in Russia and Europe and parts of the U.K. So now I think we probably at the year mark and we still have another few months to go. It’s been pretty crazy.

PHAWKER:  What bands or artists are you excited about at the moment?

STELLA MOZGAWA: Well, I’m really obsessed with Caribou at the moment. I have kind of developed a love of house music and techno and just electronica music in general since I first heard Swim when it came out in 2010. So Caribou is my current crush.