AN INTERVIEW WITH WAX MISTRESS
Fresh out of Nashville, Wax Mistress is taking neo-psychedelia to a new level. The quintet’s first EP, A Ghost in the Garden, sounds as though Mild High Club and King Gizzard got together and made a Beatles cover record. Even so, somehow, Wax Mistress never fails to add in a pinch of something different. From their well-placed, slow, quiet spoken word to their well-paced addition of faster, more excited guitar riffs, the mistress’ sounds are perfect for the ears of many.
TELL US ABOUT THE BIRTH OF THE BAND!!!
MICHAEL: Braxton and I had been in a previous band around 2014. We had both been living on the same floor during our freshman year at Belmont University so we played a lot of music together. After that fell apart I tried my hand at making electronic music. I was never too serious about it; each song I made sounded totally different. One might have sounded like a Flying Lotus joint, the next might have been more of a synth pop song. In doing that I had become more interested with the different sonic possibilities, the timbres, and soundscapes possible rather than the strict rhythm and melody. Couple that with Braxton beginning to collect a ton of guitar pedals. We were making some wacky sounds. At some point in 2016 we started jamming with our singer from our previous band, Bo. We started getting more serious about it, and jams turned to practices. I reached out to Aaron to see if he wanted to play drums. We used to play together back in Atlanta. Evan was a friend of Bo’s and picked up bass. From there we settled on the name Wax Mistress and played around town for about a year without having released anything. At some point around the turn of last summer, Bo wasn’t able to continue with the band. Braxton and I started talking to Brandon a couple months prior when he started becoming a regular at our shows. We were into his music as well and were pretty impressed he managed to record an entire EP out of his freshman dorm room by himself. When the spot opened up, we asked Brandon to join in.
YOUR FIRST SINGLE IS “A REFLECTION.” WHY RELEASE THIS AS YOUR FIRST SINGLE? WHAT IS YOUR MUSIC A REFLECTION OF????
We decided to release “A Reflection” as our first single because we felt it summed up our sound so perfectly. The entire EP is somewhat building up to that song. It’s a big release of energy, like a rocket taking off, followed by a mellow section where you’re just admiring the view. The name of the song stems from the last lyric. There’s somewhat of a lyrical theme throughout the entire EP, so we don’t really want to spoil what those lyrics means.
NASHVILLE! HOW HAS THIS MUSIC SCENE INFLUENCED YOU? HOW DO YOU CONTRIBUTE TO IT?
The Nashville music scene is pretty diverse. Of course you have a lot of country, but the country side of Nashville is pretty removed from the indie side. You get a ton of house shows around the city, but sometimes police are eager to swing by and shut things down. We’ve been able to schedule some of our own shows around town. For a while last year, we had a monthly gig at the Basement, and we’d just invite our favorite local bands to join the bill with us. Overall the Nashville scene has really just forced us to be the best we can be. No one likes following a band that killed it, especially if your reception is pretty lukewarm.We’ve dealt with that, we’ve cut songs we’ve thought were weak, we’ve identified areas of our sound to focus on. There’s just so much talent around here, it pushes you to make the best music you can.
HAVE YOU PLAYED MANY LIVE SHOWS YET? DOES THIS INFLUENCE THE MUSIC YOU MAKE AND HOW IT TRANSLATES ON STAGE?
We’ve played quite a few live shows, but only a couple so far with Brandon in the band. It’s been really useful. We can test out songs and narrow down the best into a recording project. It’s kind of like a comedian trying out new jokes in more divey joints, and then taking the jokes that are guaranteed to get a laugh out to the theater.
WHAT’S IT LIKE BEING A BAND IN THE 21ST CENTURY? ESPECIALLY IN TERMS OF STARTING UP AS A BAND….HAS SOCIAL MEDIA PLAYED A CRUCIAL ROLE IN GETTING YOUR MUSIC OUT THERE?
The most difficult part of being a band today is probably just getting people’s attention. You’ve just got so much to compete with. Everyone has the means to advertise their gig or knows someone who can record. And yes, social media is extremely important, and we hate that it is, because none of us like using social media. It’s mainly how we reach out to a lot of other bands and venues, and also how we get the word out on our shows or if we’re releasing new music.
YOUR EP WAS RECORDED + MIXED BY YOURSELVES, STICKING PRETTY TRUE TO THE DIY ETHOS. IS THIS PRACTICE + MENTALITY IMPORTANT WHILE CREATING MUSIC??
It’s not necessarily important, but it gives the band a lot more control. Studios are expensive, and in order to add all the details we put into the EP would have meant days of booking. That’s just money we don’t have. Luckily, Michael has been interning at a local studio called the Sound Shelter and is able to record there when the studio isn’t in use. We were able to record in a really nice professional studio environment, but without the stress that’s inherent in a lot of recording. We weren’t on any clock so we didn’t have to finish a song in a day or else have to shell out another $300. We got to take our time, take it easy. All that meant that we had the time to go back and try a different drum beat in this section, or add a phaser to the guitar in this part, or play around with synth sounds for an hour trying to find what fit best.