Maud Mostly: Hello and welcome to The Other Teams Tunes Tuesday! A weekly series that discusses music and matters with queer artists you love. I'm your host Maud Mostly, my pronouns are they/them, and joining me this week is LA-based artist Mothé. Thank you so much for being here with me today. Would you like to introduce yourself?
Mothé: Yeah, of course, thank you for having me. My name's Mothé, I use they/she pronouns and I'm sitting on my porch. That's about the story.
MM: Giving us a little taste of that LA weather too. I know a lot of us watching more locally or hoping for that warmer weather soon, but yeah, I'm really excited just to talk about what you've been up to, 'cause recently, you released your debut album, I Don't Want You To Worry Anymore. And in the past, you've been a touring member of several groups and released singles prior to the album, so you're definitely not new to music or the music scene, but how does it feel to be releasing this full debut solo work?
M: Well, it's funny that you use the words new because that is how it feels. It's this thing where I feel like I've been around forever. In some ways, I feel like an old person walking around like, I've been here for 10 years, but being able to put out my first full-length body of work, it's like, well, it's so new that it like doesn't erase the last 10 years that I spent in music, but it almost like it ends those 10 years and categorizes them into a little folder and I can click those 10 years away and I'm like, I'm starting another 10 years, I'm starting a brand new 10 years. And that's been kind of exciting. So it has brought a sort of youthfulness back to music for me that I haven't gotten to experience in quite a while, 'cause it's like it's the first time I've been able to be consumed in that long of a format.
MM: Yeah, that's a really exciting way to look at it, how do you think that perspective impacted the album when you were working on it?
M: So funny enough, I don't know if I felt that way until after the record was done and after even getting closer to it coming out because it's just in such a long journey. We've been working on these songs since December of 2020, is when I was out in the studio and yeah, we didn't even know we were making an album when we were making it. It was supposed to be an EP and suddenly a few songs felt like they needed a little bit of extra padding, and then I kept writing and I kept writing and eventually we were looking around and like, I think this is an album. Then it came time to go to do the record, it was like, Okay, well...Yeah, then it felt new, then it was like, I've never done this, and then it was scary and exciting, and kind of this new thing, it's like... I had to start thinking about songs in terms of a 45-minute piece of work instead of a song on its own or a few other songs together. It really changed the way that I approach each spot because I was like, Well, if it doesn't land in a certain way within these three minutes, I have an entire other 40 minutes to work with to get this sort of ebb and flow in these dynamics, and that was really exciting spot to be in.
MM: Yeah, definitely, I love seeing that new perspective and those different feelings going into it, but also do you feel like all that past experience came into building the album as well and how so?
M: Absolutely, I think that I had been through so many bands and learn so much about arrangement and learned so much about recording, even just...One thing that was kind of different about it was that I used to primarily have a lot of experience in the live world, and then during covid, I ended up learning a lot about the recording world, and that was the first time I'd ever gotten to really get good at recording, 'cause I think in the past I was good at playing live, but I wasn't good at getting that to translate on records, and this was the first time where I had long enough to sit with it to get good at recording to be able to, basically, document exciting moments in a way that was real. And document exciting moments in a way that would translate to the listener and didn't feel like some sort of dual second-hand experience of it, and so that was kind of where the...taking all of the experience I had from live and remembering it like, this is what it feels like when it's in the room, this is what a drum kit feels like when it’s in the room. This is what it feels like when you're playing a live show. Why doesn't it sound like this on record? How do we get it to sound like this on record? And that's why a lot of the album has a slightly more raw, slightly softer sounds at first to it, because it was me trying to successfully recreate what it feels like when a band is actually playing in front of you, but without losing the processability.
MM: Yeah, I love that so much. I think being able to capture that kind of live feeling in recorded music really just amps it up to the next level, it's a different kind of experience for the listener, and I absolutely love seeing that in the album, and you know, many of the lyrics on the album, I Don't Want You to Worry Anymore, draw attention to a comfortable closeness with death that can be said and seen in a lot of ways, how did it feel to explore that particular sentiment through your writing?
M: I think it was kind of interesting because I think that when you say death, that can mean more than one thing. When I'm talking about death on the record, so some of it is about being like, Oh, I'm scared of dying, that is actually terrifying, but a lot of it is like the death of my experience with religion, the death of my experience with being in the closet, my experience with these sorts of different types of deaths, these character development deaths, that that once you go past that point, once you acknowledge that you are not cisgender, once you acknowledge that you are not straight, you don't get to return to it. And so for that reason, it is a death to me, and once you acknowledge that you leave the church, you can’t go back to, it's like you know too much. And so this sort of death by knowledge of self and death by character development. And these are kind of deaths that we as humans will continue to have through our entire lives, and I think that that’s the part that's comforting, that's the part that's close, and that's the part that I would choose to emphasize in my personal experience and say that this is the healthy relationship with death, as far as actually dying is concerned, I'm not about it. I don't wanna do that.
MM: Absolutely. Live slow, grow old. I’m all about that.
M: Exactly, exactly. I love to live slow. I mean look so I've been here, I'm 25, and it feels like I've been here for fucking ever. Like it feels like I’ve been here a very long time. And I kind of like that.
MM: Yeah, so much. So much joy in that. So, so much joy in that. And yeah, it's really interesting just to hear you talk about all the different ways death and life intertwine, all the different kinds of deaths that we go through, and I also just found it so particularly interesting because of the way you were just expressing that when you moved into this album and, you know, Mothé you were really releasing and packaging up those last 10 years you've been in, and you'd almost expressed that in this similar kind of way of that was a death and now you're here. So I just love seeing how much this comes up throughout your process in and outside of the album.
M: Oh yeah, personally I’m a big fan of closing doors and starting new ones, because I think that you run the risk of becoming like, like I love nostalgia, I’m an incredibly nostalgic person, but I think that if you get too stuck in it, you end up not being present, and that's not fun for you or anyone around you. I think it's kind of exciting to look around and say, Well, I've actually been a few different people in this whole experience, because there were things that I needed to learn were true to myself. There were things that I needed to learn that were not true to myself, and that's kind of a thrilling space to be, which is to say you can close the door and keep going. You can continue to transform. You can experience death in a healthy way over and over again as many times as you want or as few times as you want. But for me, I'm a giant fan of closing the door.
MM: Yeah, absolutely, and I think that is so, so, so impactful. And with that in mind, I also want to draw attention to the cover art for the album, because I mean, it goes past the cover art from your cover art to the style in your music videos, the outfits you wear in your Tik Toks, your look has this incredible ethereal energy, so how do music and fashion work together in your arts practice? Because it's so clearly and excitingly present.
M: I mean they are everything together. You can't have one without the other. Well, okay, so there was this one really crazy defining moment for me where I understood the impact of fashion and music, which is that I saw the same band two nights in a row without realizing it, and the first night I saw them they were dressed up in all black, just like this witchy goth look. And I remember listening and being like, Oh, they're kind of a goth band, this is cool. This is awesome, I love it. I went to a show the next day and they played and they were wearing mom jeans and 90s white shirts, and I literally was like, Oh, they're kind of a 90s band, and I swear that I heard the same band differently based off of the outfits they were wearing. And after that happened, I was like, Okay. That's how much it matters. Fashion is so important in music that it literally affects how you think a band sounds from the outside.
And it also, in my eyes, I think that the weirder your fashion is, the weirder people will accept your music is, and the more you get to do with it, and so there's this kind of drama with fashion, and there's two avenues for it, one is, there's a drama in fashion that allows you to have more drama in music. I don't think that the songs on the record would sound the same or come off the same live if I was wearing jeans and a T-shirt and I was just looking like a normal person, like a DIY band. I think that you would view me as a different artist, but fashion brings out this kind of extra character, this more female experience of the record, and I think that fashion is the reason that you know the album’s not coming from the perspective of a straight male. Because you see the cover and it's like that's the person telling me these things, I suddenly receive these messages differently, so it's incredibly important, that aspect to me. I think that it's incredibly important to my gender identity as well. And the thing about it too, is that I find that, everybody, if you put on an outfit that you just love, you sort of walk a little taller like there’s this confidence to it, and I think it's something everyone experiences when you look in the very like, I look kinda good right now and that makes me feel differently, I'm gonna navigate my daily life differently. It's that effect of finding confidence in the woman I am, it's going to affect how I write, it’s going to affect how I deliver the songs.
So when I walk in and I feel great about the presentation, in the fashion of it, and I'm enjoying myself through fashion, I'm gonna give you a more confident performance. I'm going to be like, look! This is the thing! And there's this sort of air to it that I don't think you can receive without the fashion.
MM: Yeah, that's so beautiful. And I just love that really powerful way that fashion, music, and gender and gender expression are all intertwining and just benefiting one another and creating this way where you can just really put yourself out there in the way that you want to be presented and seen and perceived and have your work be acknowledged through a particular lens that you are defining.
M: Oh yeah, you don't have to tell a queer person how fucking important fashion is. You know what I mean? We know how important it is, it's integral to how we can have our most true experiences, it's like fucking life or death, fashion, it's this crazy thing, but yeah, it matters outside of that as well. It’s just so important. I love it.
MM: I absolutely love it too, and I have loved having you on today. Thank you so much for joining me on this week's Tunes Tuesday. If you would like to listen to the album that we've been discussing, the songs, the music videos, checking them out on social media, you can find all of those links below, and Mothé will be playing us out.
*Somewhere In Your Dreams by Mothé begins playing*