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Lobsterfest Q&A: Weyes Blood

Megan Fair, Copy Chief

Weyes Blood, the musical entity of Natalie Mering, is a spacious and experimental creation driven by Mering’s gorgeous, classic vocals and unique arrangements. Mering is influenced by the places that her tours take her, as well choral and church music. The result is a melodic and experimental take on folk. Weyes Blood is performing at Lobsterfest 2015, so we chatted with Mering about everything from her performance experiences to Pitchfork to Arcata, CA.

What got you into music?

My father was a musician, he played guitar. So I started on guitar and piano. My mom played piano.

Did you take lessons?

I was kind of self-taught. My dad taught me a couple things and I took some piano lessons, but I’m mostly self-taught.

And what got you into the experimental music that you create? Did your family listen to experimental or did you explore on your own?

I guess I got really into Nirvana. They were kind of deconstructionists, so the next logical step was finding other unconventional instrument playing. I thought it was going to be the next big thing in pop music.

With The Innocents, your latest release, what was your process when you began writing?

I record demos and just kind of improvise things and pick and choose what I like best. Then I was playing with some friends, and they were filling out in terms of drum and bass.

When you tour, do you have other musicians with you?

Mostly I tour solo, but lately I’ve been touring with a band for the first time.

Are you enjoying it? Is there a big difference between touring alone or with other musicians?

You sort of have a little less freedom, but it’s more fun. There’s a little more opportunity for drama, but there’s also more opportunity to have fun.

How long have you been on this most recent tour? How has it been?

Since January. It’s wonderful! I’m like kind of at the end of my cycle and I’m about to work on a new album. It’s been really beautiful, a lot of different places, different faces.

Do you have a favorite city you’ve stopped in on this tour?

Lisbon in Portugal, Dublin in Ireland.

Have you played there before?

No! That was my first time in Dublin. Yeah, it was incredible. Oh, and Arcata, CA. It’s like a weird stoner town. Arcata’s really weird, I’ve always really liked it.

What do you think it is about Arcata that made it a strange little stoner town?

Well, there’s no reason for it to be a big city, so it will never get that big, but it’s gorgeous. Like pre-historic, oceanic, germanic environment. But it’s just kind of run by people who have a lot of extra money earned from drugs--marijuana--so you get a lot of crazy cool culture, but at the same time it’s not quite a real city, not a lot of people go there, there’s not a lot of tourism. It’s just a strange pocket.

So performing at cool places like Arcata and performing in Dublin, does that influence your music that you’ll be writing and recording now, or did you have it prepared before you left for tour?

I think [the music] is always there, but these places add to the experience. Experiences kind of fuel your feelings, especially when you’re a stranger in a town you don’t really know. I find that really inspiring.

Switching topics here--your album got a 7.7 on Pitchfork, and when you see reviews like that and high praise from critics, does that affect you at all? Does it make you view your music any differently?

Oh, no, no, no. I don’t think Pitchfork--I think Pitchfork is nothing. I don’t think there’s anything real going on there. I don’t know who did that, why they did that, I don’t know what they were listening for, you know? I don’t know if it means anything. It’s just very confusing.

Do you think people who review your music are kind of just missing the point of your music?

I mean, it’s inevitable when you put something out into the world, people are going to take it and do what they want. In terms of that review, I don’t remember there being anything that felt jarringly inaccurate, but it’s not like I read it and was like ‘Oh yeah, that’s what I was trying to do!’ It was like I read it, and it was like ‘She has a low voice, this song was bad,’ that’s just the gist of it [laughs.]

It’s like we become the receptacles of whatever anybody else wants us to be.

That’s a part of it when you put yourself out there. I don’t take it personally, I don’t read that many [album reviews], and, I mean, usually I feel like they focus more on things that don’t really matter. Sometimes, the one thing that is kind of really oppressive is, as a female artist, just being compared to other female artists.

What other artists are you often unfairly being compared to?

They just always bring up British folk music. Like non-specific British folk music, like I don’t even know what that means.

It seems like the art that you create is very immersive, so when you’re performing, do you find your audiences are more contemplative and involved? How does your audience behave when you perform?

Sort of that way, like very kind of quiet, I very much have that. A lot of people tell me that they cry. Which for me is kind of like, ‘Maybe? Okay?’ but sometimes I’m like, really that’s not a bad thing, if they needed to cry they’re going to cry.

Has there ever been a show where you’ve been surprised or unnerved by the audience?

Oh yeah, totally! That’s a part of playing live, inevitably you’ll find people who are there to talk, to do other things. And I can respect that, I know that not everybody’s obsessed with music. I’ve had some shows I’ve played be sabotaged, like one time the sound guy just played The Velvet Underground and Nico over my set so loud until I couldn’t play anymore.


Because I ruined a poker game they were playing, I like sat on the poker table on purpose, so I guess it was kind of tit for tat, like I ruined their poker game so they ruined my set. But I was like, why are you playing poker in the middle of this beautiful show? Maybe I was a little self-righteous [chuckles.] But I like doing stuff like that.

After this tour you’ll be back in New York, right? Are you looking forward to being back?

I actually live right next to the beach, and it’s just about key beach time, so I’m really excited!

I’m always curious what artists think when they get asked to play Lobsterfest. What were your reactions?

I love Ohio! When I first started playing music I had a lot of friends from there, and it has a wonderful rich history of experimental music. I once played five shows from Ohio in one tour, like Toledo, Columbus, Cleveland and Akron…it was great. So I think that Ohio is a little secret deal belt wonder.

You’re excited about the lineup? Any artists you have seen or haven’t seen and are excited to see?

Wolf Eyes . Oh yeah, Julianna Barwick. Circuit Des Yeux is great. I’ve seen Wolf Eyes, they’re kind of buddies of mine. We’ve played together before, at Oberlin actually.

What else is on your mind?

I’m working on an EP that’s going to come out in the fall, it’ll be cool.

Is it going to be a departure from the work you’ve done thus far?

Oh yeah. It’s gonna be different, but not too different. So stay tuned! TBD, to be determined.

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