Tuesday 14 February 2017

Interview: Bestial Mouths

Still heartless...

“The newer material is very personal in nature as it directly relates to the experiences and emotions I had been going through and feeling. Those experiences set the direction for the album title and cover art.”

Los Angeles' Bestial Mouths are easily one of the most exciting acts of recent years. Uncompromising in their blend of the avant garde and inhabiting all the corners of dark alternative music, their latest album 'Heartless' has been universally praised, and off it's back the band has made inroads into the European live scene. 2016 may have been their most successful year to date, but the band keep their eyes firmly on the horizon with a new remix EP and north American tour scheduled for this year, they show no signs of stopping any time soon.
We caught up with vocalist Lynette Cerezo reflect on the band's stellar year and talk about their plans for 2017.

Intravenous Magazine: Your latest album 'Heartless' was released last March. How has the reaction been to it so far?

Lynette Cerezo: We have been pleased with the response so far, and from the reviews I have seen it has been positive. It was quite a feeling to see people reach out and nominate it for Best Album of 2016 in Auxiliary Magazine's end of year polls. We haven't seen the results yet, but we are honored and thrilled
to have made the list no matter the outcome.

Also, people seemed excited to do remixes of the songs, so it's always a good indicator when
fellow artists are excited to collaborate with you on a project - that's an ultimate compliment.

IVM: Musically and thematically what inspired you most in the creation of 'Heartless'?

LC: Heartless is a unique album, as it contains some older songs as we perform them now, we had the chance to re-record them, which was cool. So, in a way, it is also an homage to the past and present.

The newer material is very personal in nature as it directly relates to the experiences and emotions I had been going through and feeling. Those experiences set the direction for the album title and cover art.

Musically, I would say we just continued on the same path and direction as we always have, and added some more danceable tracks.

I feel Heartless musically shows many of our influences across genres and styles, from some Post-punk type songs to more electronic - maybe more Pop like - vibe.

IVM: How do you typically approach the writing and recording process?

LC: We approach writing in a number of different ways:

It can begin with lyrics or an idea or interest that guides the lyrics first, then the music.

It can begin with music, and then lyrics written to what it evokes, what I hear in it.

It can also begin by experimentation of feelings, like we want to create a certain type of song (An example being I might want a slow dirty Swans-type song, or I am feeling a fast industrial harsh song).

As for recording, I much prefer when we are recording a song we have played live a bunch, because then I can focus on the lyrics' and songs' feeling because it is has become memorized and second nature. However, sometimes we don't have that luxury.

There have even been times I've had to record vocals for a song I haven't done the lyrics to yet, so I am writing them as we record.

IVM: You've worked with producers such as David Psutka, Danny Saber and Jürgen Engler. What does a producer need to bring to the table to compliment a band with such an esoteric sound such as Bestial Mouths?

LC: This is an interesting question, as my thought would be what does Bestial have to bring to the table. I think they just over all need an understanding of our sound and aesthetic and the overall goal we are trying to achieve.

Recording with Saber the first time - he was used to guiding vocalists I believe - he finally just stopped in the middle of our work and let me be free, and as he said “do my thing”.

I think working with diverse producers is also a great match for us, each one has his own ear and specialty to lend to our sound.

IVM: 'Heartless' marked your first full-length album on Cleopatra Records – how did that deal come about and how do you feel you fit with the label?

LC: It all started with an email from Cleopatra to come into their office and chat. Of course we were all excited and nervous at the same time. I grew up listening to all the bands on Cleopatra Records. After meeting with them I felt it was a great fit. I admired a large label that was still independent, that had survived our economy's struggles. They were ready to support new artists at that time, and I sensed it was an exciting time for them and wanted love to be part of it all.

IVM: A personal highlight on the album was the cover of The Human League's 'Being Boiled', what led to the decision to cover it and how do you feel it compares to the original?

LC: Truthfully I don't remember exactly how we picked The Human League. Cleopatra wanted us to do a cover and we threw around a lot of ideas. I liked the challenge of doing a cover with male vocals, a song that doesn't normally sound like us, the challenge to see if we can keep the integrity of the original but still put our mark on it. The original will always be best, of course, but I do believe we brought a different style to it!

I also agreed with the subject matter, its about being against the process of killing of silk worms for silk, humans' abuse of innocent victims for our own exploitation.

IVM: You have a new remix EP scheduled for release in March, what can we expect from that?

LC: We are super excited for the EP, '(still) HEARTLESS': It will have a lot of great remixes, new version of a song off 'Heartless' as we performed it live on our last EU tour and a new Bestial Mouths song!

It contains an exclusive mix that Danny Saber (Black Grape) recorded and produced with us during the Heartless sessions, plus remixes from Jürgen Engler (Die Krupps), Zanias (Linea Aspera), CX Kidtronik (Stones Throw / Atari Teenage Riot / Saul Williams), The Horrorist (Out Of Line Music / Things to Come), The Ludovico Technique (Metropolis Records) and Forces (Alex Akers, co-producer of Zanias).

Also appearing are Shredder (Chris Video, who is catching lots of attention for his DJing &
Tropical Goth parties) and Todd Gys (Black Circuit / Zero G Sounds, a Boston DJ formerly from the Midwest techno scene). It represents a wide range of styles and influences that reinterpret album tracks through very capable and talented hands.

IVM: You've shred the stage with some notable acts and toured Europe last year, can we expect to see Bestial Mouths back in Europe in 2017?

LC: Yes and yes, we love playing Europe, some of the best times and audiences we've had! We are currently working on plans for August for some shows and festivals. I believe we finally get to play Portugal, for the ENTREMURALHAS festival in Leiria, organized by the promoters of FADE IN Festival.

Extra special for us and our supporters is that we may be touring with Zanias, which includes Zoe Zanias and I sharing the stage and singing in each other songs.

We still want and need to play the UK though!

IVM: One stop on the tour was the 25th Anniversary of Wave Gottik Trefan – how was that experience for you, and did you get chance to enjoy any of the festival?

LC: WGT was an incredible experience. Our sound and performance felt incredible and to see that many people there, who seemed to know who we were, was so exciting. I was happy we got to stay an extra day and catch a lot of amazing performances, too. The best was people watching and feeling completely at home.

Bummed though, because my favorite playing tights fell out my hotel window (I was airing them from smoke smell), they were quickly snatched up as it was a city filled with “goths” so a perfect find for some one (Well, I would have been pleasantly happy to have found them!). I was so hoping to see someone wearing them so I could smile ha ha!

IVM: Last year you added Brant Showers (∆Aimon / SØLVE) to the touring line-up of the band. What led to that move and what do you feel he brings to the live show?

LC: Brant adds tons to the live show, his take on our sound and energy are perfect. It happened because we were in need of a touring drummer. Brant had offered in the past and I had always remembered that. I was so happy when it all came together.

IVM: Eddie O. is also a part of the live band on electronics and video. How important is it to experiment with sound and vision during live shows and are there any new things you're looking to include in your shows this year?

LC: Our live performances have always been a huge focus for Bestial. I think it should be a full experience: Sight and sound and feeling. I have always wanted to push it further and add some visual imagery that enhanced my movement in live shows, to add to the theatrics of my performance. One of the aspects we are working on is how these performances translate in the various spaces we play, as we shift through different song moods and parts of the room.

Eddie and I are currently working on new footage to add to the live show, really coordinating the live visuals with each song to create a narrative atmosphere. We recorded all of the footage ourselves, using everything from DSLRs to iPhones to capture scenes as we experienced them on and off tour.

IVM: The band's visuals are incredibly striking – how important is this element to the ethos of the band and what inspires you visually?

The visual and the overall aesthetic has always been super important. I feel it is the whole package that can really convey who and what the band is about, to really help express the sound of the music.

Visually, life is what inspires us, it is all around. I also have a background and degree in fashion design and art history, so I know that creeps its way into everything.

IVM: There is a new video in the works for 'Worn Skin'. What can we expect to see in that?

LC: A lot of darkness…. (Literally and figuratively)

Actually it is my directorial debut. Usually the talented and professional directors we have worked with have their idea and vision for the song. This time I wanted to recreate what had been swimming around in my head, and also experiment with a different “aesthetic” and look, as I always try to create something new. I purposefully wanted a more lo-fi look, to lend to the idea of having to go through many levels from my brain to reach the outside world / public. Kind of like the Telephone game one plays as a kid: It starts as a clear picture and it gets changed and affected along the way.

'Heartless' is available to buy now through Cleopatra Records. For more information on the band, including forthcoming releases and tour dates, please visit their official website.  

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