INTERVIEW: Mothra Stewart
Hi Marc, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
Great! I’ve been adjusting to life in Brooklyn after moving here from Austin, TX at the end of the summer. I’ve been submerging myself in the scene. Brooklyn has a really eclectic indie culture and there’s so much going on. It’s really an incredible place. There’s a plethora of great musicians and artists and venues. Everyone seems to be really invested in their craft. It’s inspiring and really motivates me to keep creating.
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Cosmic Coincidence”?
“Cosmic Coincidence” is really about self-discovery. It’s sort of a coming of age song, in that it’s about coming to terms with one’s expectations and limitations. That can be a painful process, but there’s also a lot of beauty in it. There are lyrics in the song about self-medicating, self- deception, and self-destruction. In the celebrity obsessed, consumer based society we live in, I think a lot of young people struggle with their own identity. We can fall into the trap of valuing ourselves based on likes, shares, comments, and views. I think that presents a whole set of problems that are unique to this generation and those to follow.
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
Often when I’m writing a song, I don’t really process it until it’s done. And sometimes it can be weeks or months after it’s finished that I fully understand what it’s about. I think it’s like the old adage about not being able to see the forest for the trees. When I’m inside of it, I’m just sort of purging. There’s always a theme or an idea that whatever I’m writing needs to make sense, but it’s not until I get away from it that I fully realize what it means. In this case, I think this song probably had a lot to do with the end of my twenties, relocating to New York, and dealing with the process of aging, maturing, and becoming comfortable with who I am.
Any plans to release a video for the single?
Yeah, it’s definitely in the plans. I’ve talked to a couple of animators about a video for the other song on the 7 inch, “God is a Surfer.” I’m hoping for something ambitious, eclectic, and strange. I like the idea of animation because it allows the creator to construct a separate reality. That sort of artistic escapism appeals to me.
How was the recording and writing process?
When I was writing these songs I was part of an indie rock band in Austin, called Chill Russell. They’re an awesome band and some of my best friends. But essentially, at some point in the process I knew I was leaving Texas and the band. My focus changed from writing for a full-length with Chill Russell to creating something that was as malleable and portable as I am. I started the recording process during South by Southwest at a home studio in Austin. When I left town, my friends and former bandmates really picked up the slack. The guys from Chill Russell laid down some guitars, synth, bass, drums, and vocals with contributions from my friend Steven Fasnacht, as well. It’s his son Harrison who can be heard at the beginning of “Cosmic Coincidence.” After some mixing, the tracks were sent to Erik Wofford (The Black Angels, Holy Wave, The Octopus Project) at Cacophony Recorders for mastering, and finally off to Jon Niess at Austin Signal who pressed the vinyl.
What role does NYC play in your writing?
It’s really an inspiring place. There is such a diversity of talented people. It’s a testament to the fact that there isn’t just one way to do it. I believe it was Tom Wolfe who said “one belongs to New York instantly.” That’s the sense I get from the scene here. It’s a mosaic.
How have Modest Mouse and The Flaming Lips influenced your music?
Those are two of my favorite bands, especially the older stuff. In general, I like music that has something ugly about it. Bob Dylan and Tom Waits are some of my favorites too. Whether it’s Isaac Brock’s lisp, Wayne Coyne’s strange lyrical sensibility, or Bob Dylan yowling like a cat in heat, I’m always drawn to the oddities. I’m suspicious of anything that’s too pretty. There are obviously immensely talented singers out there, and that’s great. It’s just not for me. It’s too middle of the road. I prefer something that sounds like the artist is struggling, like they’re fighting to get it out. It’s no secret that I’m not the best singer in the world. The guttural kicks and pitchy howl are just part of my voice. It’s inspiring to see other musicians and songwriters who are so prolific, without sounding like what’s traditionally considered to be beautiful.
Does your new double single mean we can expect a new album – how’s that coming along?
Yeah, an album is in the works. I’ve got a few songs I’m kicking around and working through right now. I’m really interested in experimenting with noise. I like the idea of layering simple, traditional songs with pedal noise. I’m listening to a lot of shoegaze right now. I think that influence will definitely continue to be present in my songs.
Any tentative release date or title in mind?
I think the spring or summer of 2018 is probably realistic. I’m currently looking into recording studios in Brooklyn where I can track some of the new stuff. I don’t have a title in mind yet, but when I do, Vents will be the first to know.
Any plans to hit the road?
I might do some regional touring in the summer. South by Southwest in Austin is always an appealing option in the spring. Right now I’m just focused on rolling this record out.
What else is happening next in Mothra Stewart’s world?
For now, I’ll be doing press, writing new songs, selling vinyl, and working more with Merrifield Records. I’ll be moonlighting with Chill Russell in October at the Delancey, while they’re on tour in New York for Mondo.NYC Festival. So the future, for Mothra Stewart, consists of writing, recording, promoting, and playing shows, the lifecycle of an artist!