Mothers lives in a world filled with dreampop, ethereal, and rock. Listening to their music is a dive into an ocean of images and dreams. Originally from Georgia, Mothers released their debut album When You Walk A Long Distance You Are Tired in 2016. They are now back with a sophomore album Render Another Ugly Method due out September 7, 2018, and a new tour. It features songs like “Beauty Routine:
FEMMUSIC was honored to speak with Kristine Leschper about the new album. For info visit http://mothersband.us/
FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making Render Another Ugly Method?
KL: I was writing these songs during what I would consider a time of general personal upheaval – suddenly we were touring really extensively and I wasn’t taking my health seriously, because I didn’t really know how to do that yet in the context of constant travel. I’m a person who is easily overstimulated by crowded or noisy environments, so I found myself feeling totally overwhelmed most of the time. At the same time, it was extremely positive, in that I was being introduced to a ton of new music (mostly by my bandmates on long drives) which absolutely informed the record. There was a lot of discovery. I just mean to say that during this time I felt extremely scattered – influenced by a ton of disparate sources and experimenting to better understand how those sources could inform and interact with my own sensibilities. This record was decidedly more deconstructive than the first record, in the sense that whatever was initially written went through many stages of being torn apart and reassembled. The process was much more visual, like collage, than earlier songs which were written very quickly and intuitively. It was sometime difficult to visualize the locus of the collection during the process of constantly cutting things up and reimagining them.
FEMMUSIC: Tell me about John Congleton. How did you meet? Why did you decide to have him produce the album? What did he bring to the project?
KL: From the handful of records I was familiar with that were produced by John, I could tell that he was perhaps as scattered as I was – or that he wasn’t interested in any one particular thing. I was most familiar with the self-titled St. Vincent record, To Be Kind by Swans, and Burn Your Fire For No Witness by Angel Olsen, which all exist in totally different sonic environments. This ability to adapt made sense to me and felt especially relevant to the attitude I had while working on the songs that would become Render Another Ugly Method.
FEMMUSIC: What do you look for in a producer? What has your experience been working with 2 (John Congleton & Drew Vanderberg)?
KL: For When You Walk, I was really looking for guidance. It was my first recording experience (outside of quickly-assembled home recordings) and there was a lot I didn’t know about production. Drew has an ear for nuance – he always worked towards bringing out these small beautiful moments within the greater whole. For Render, I was looking for someone who would challenge my ideas – I sort of hoped to collide and that the music would come out more complete on the other side, having been put through the wringer so to speak. There were several things that John and I disagreed about, so there was this push and pull that happened, shaping the music as it went.
FEMMUSIC: You’re releasing the album through Anti Records. This is not the same label you released When You Walk A Long Distance You Are Tired on. What made you decide to sign with Anti? What benefits do they bring to the project?
KL: What I first noticed about Anti was that their roster was sprawling and diverse – there are a number of strong women, and especially women of color, who have put out records with them. I like that they don’t try to curate a specific sound as a label, but rather release records they’re really passionate about, that are super different from each other and shine in their own ways. Consequently, they’ve released music by the likes of Kate Bush, Mavis Staples, Elliott Smith, Busdriver, The Locust, Os Mutantes, Tom Waits, Yann Tiersen, etc. I get the feeling that their work is hugely intuitive – it’s definitely a label run by artists, for artists, but they’re also going on 20 years as a label and have the benefits of being quite established. I’ll propose an idea of how I’d like to go about something, and they’re like “ok great, it sounds like you totally have a vision for this, let us know if you need anything to facilitate that”, so they’re supportive with their resources but are simultaneously accommodating to artists who want to have total control of their work, representation, etc.
FEMMUSIC: Tell me about your songwriting technique.
KL: It’s always changing. The songs on When You Walk were written extremely quickly, without much fuss. I’ve always been interested in abstracted structures, so those songs are quite linear. Writing Render was much more about challenging whatever was initially written, perhaps discarding the majority of the song and rewriting it around one particular section. I feel that it relates back to the cut-up techniques of the Dadaists and William Burroughs. It’s a practice I’ve used often in writing poetry, as well as in my visual works.
FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why?
KL: “Nothing On” by Flaming Tunes, and really the Flaming Tunes music in general. They’re incredibly raw, human songs from Gareth Williams, who recorded music as Flaming Tunes after he left experimental rock canon This Heat. I feel that Flaming Tunes has been the impetus for this shift I’ve been experiencing in my songwriting recently (post-render), sort of away from dark postmodernist cynicism and towards something more like new sincerity. I suppose I have been feeling generally less skeptical – ready for tenderness to take over.
FEMMUSIC: As a woman in the music industry have you been discriminated against?
KL: Sure, I definitely have memories of being condescended to – but I do feel really hopeful about the language that’s being developed to discuss the complexities of racism, sexism, transphobia, etc within music and within our culture at large. There seems to be this structure of accountability that is forming as more people refuse to be complacent with these issues.
FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to collaborate with, or tour with? Why?
KL: I would love to collaborate and/or tour with Cate Le Bon – I think she’s such an incredible writer and player. I feel that her songs are an example of perfectly married noise and pop/songwriter sensibilities. I find it really special when artists are able to do this – it’s one thing to be entirely experimental, or exclusively a good songwriter – so few artists can do both. “Love Is Not Love” is masterful. There’s also a totally lovely video on YouTube of her performing a cover of a white fence song, “Chairs In The Dark” that I recommend.
FEMMUSIC: What is one thing would you like to change about the music industry?
KL: I feel that I’m still trying to understand how I exist in relation to it, or how being a part of it impacts what I do and similarly, the ways in which I can interact with the industry to hopefully shape it in some small way. It seems that change is about accountability, and about grassroots revisions – that interpersonal relationships are some of the most realistic and important in harnessing revolution. I think any industry that operates within the confines of imperialist capitalism has to contend with that existing structure, and that it’s everyone’s responsibility to make sure that people who are consistently marginalized within capitalism are not silenced or discredited. I think that this means making a point to collaborate with, hire, recommend/speak highly of, buy records from, go on tour with, ETC, artists who are women, people of color, gender non-conforming, disabled, etc, who tend to be marginalized and ignored by the industry.