WEYES BLOOD The X-Press Interview

Natalie Laura Mering first hit the stage seriously as part of the underground noise music scene, where she was the bassist for Jackie-O Motherfucker. Her real success came when she turned her focus to her own songs and became the indie charmer Weyes Blood. Her latest album Titanic Rising saw her placed on many
best of” lists for 2019, due to her mystical and tender tunes. With a tip of the hat to vintage pop, while giving it a modern cinematic spin, Weyes Blood (pronounced “Wise Blood”) is an artist deserving of all the accolades. Catch her performing at the Chevron Lighthouse for Perth Festival this Sunday, February 23.

When an album has been out for a while, do you get sick of talking about them or does it make you go back and revisit or reaffirm your thinking on the record?

Oh, its the opposite. You get used to just saying the same thing over and over. It does get a little easier strangely. You can formulate your thoughts easier as youve have time to ruminate on it.  

Does your perception of the record change over time?

I think that now I am more at peace with things. When I finished recording, I wasnt sure that it was really done. I think a lot of artists feel that way. Its hard to let go of the creative process and let it be what it is. Now it has been a while, so it has all congealed for me.

You grew up in a house with musicians. Do you think you got more of a formal appreciation of music, than if music was just something that was in the background?

Maybe. My brother didnt really play an instrument. I just liked watching my Dad play and got really inspired by him. My Mum would play a little piano. We were all encouraged to imagine or dream that we could be whatever it was that we wanted to be. That was very helpful. My parents are really Christian, so we would all sing Jesus songs together and that kind of thing.

How did that pentecostal upbringing influence your music?

I think having somewhat of a spiritual background was able to open me up to having more introspection and more esoteric means of salvation – or whatever you want to call it. I think that I have done a lot of exploring, and now that i am not a Christian, and filling the void of that by going from one cosmology to the next has been a very strange journey for me. That is a large part of my songs. Especially with a song like Something To Believe, which is about trying to fill a void after having grown up with such diabolical beliefs.

The movie Titanic is said to have been a big influence on the album…

Titanic was a movie that was engineered for little white girls. It came out during a time in my life where I was very impressionable and it made quite the impression on me. I took the whole tragedy to heart. I thought it was a great lesson for humanity to learn, that we lack dominion over nature. The hubris of man comes at huge price, and the people that pay the biggest price are the third class. The injustice aspect to me was the big take from it. Sure Leo (DiCaprio) was cute and the romance was cute, but I felt that it was a meaningful film. Coming out of the 90s when environmentalism was seen to be popular, I couldnt have even imagined living in a reality like we do now that is so divisive and the anti-intellectual culture of people wanting to ignore the repetition of history in a much more existential, grander scale. Instead of crashing the boat into the iceberg and sinking, we are melting the icebergs and sinking civilization.

There have been catastrophic fires in Australia recently, so climate change is certainly something that is in many peoples thoughts, even if the politicians dont appear to share the same sense of urgency about the topic…

We are going to be announcing another show in Melbourne and $10 from each ticket will be going to a charity to support the fire relief, and we are hoping to do a few other things when we are in Australia as well. I hope that it can add to some groundswell. It is sometimes hard to get a gauge on my fans, as some people just like the music and dont really take on the message, but I feel that in Australia people get the message as it is happening in their own back yard. I feel there is more of a resonance in Australia than in some other places that I go to play shows. I am really looking forward to that.

Titanic Rising is your first record to have come out on SubPop. That is a big milestone for an act, to step up to such a prestigious label. How did that come to fruition?

Well, they really loved Front Row Seat To Earth, and approached me. I was extremely flattered that they had even heard it. I was talking to some other labels, but I just felt that SubPop really got me, and they had my back. I am such a big fan of their output and their ethos, so it was a dream come true. I think I may have come up with the idea of wanting to be on SubPop when I was 14 years old, so the fact that it happened feels like it’s full circle for me.

They really believed in my vision. I wanted to have strong players on the record, so they hired some string players. They let me create the album that I had always envisioned making, which was great.  

How did you come to choose Jonathan Rado (Foxygen) to produce the record?

He and I had met and we jammed together and I felt right at home. We have very similar tastes and very similar backgrounds. If I had stayed in Southern California as a kid, we probably would have known each other, as he went to the same high school that I grew up near. I liked Foxygen, but I wasnt a super fan. It just made sense.

We definitely balanced each other out. When i started to overthink something and get stuck, he would get very generative and start generating a bunch of new stuff. He has a lot of energy and ideas, but when it was time for me to take the reins, he would easily switch up the roles. He is not an egomaniac. We have a lot of fun, it is very dynamic.

What should we expect from the live shows in Australia?

I have a great band and I love them so much. I have some interesting lights. It is a lot like the record but it is a little more stripped down, which in some ways makes the songs really powerful. I think it will be very emotional and moving. That is my hope.