VOWWS, LA based Death Pop band talking to Maria Abramenko about their beginnings in the experimental music scene in Australia, relationship to fashion and the new single ‘One by One’ with Lynch inspired Western style music video directed by Jordan Hemingway out on February 18th.
What is your story? How did you get together and start playing?
We met at college and started playing in the experimental music scenes in Australia, and pretty quickly we figured out we worked better with each other than with anyone else. The first song we wrote together, Rizz handed me a piece of paper with lots of words and drawings on it. It didn’t make any literal sense, but it had a really strong vibe and said a lot without actual direct meaning. It was so rich with possibilities, and Rizz was so open and enthusiastic about creating – so I filtered that into something that started to sound like a song… with words and some music that kind of described the world she had just put on paper – and we went from there. It’s always been that same kind of dynamic, even as we’ve gotten more experienced in the craft there’s a childish openness we work to maintain.
How would you describe your music?
We call it ‘Death Pop.’ It’s somewhere in between a few genres. It’s got shadows of rock, goth, post-punk and electronic music, which make up the musical skeleton…but it’s not obviously any one of those things – we often take what we need from this and that, without ever sticking to one genre completely. We like to use musical vibes and lyrics that create images or make you think, without always spelling out an obvious concept…it all kind of goes back to the piece of paper Rizz handed me in the beginning that said something without really saying anything.
You have collaborated with several fashion brands before, how did this work for you?
We don’t really come from that world, but it turns out our music works well for it…I suppose we can relate to the elegance of high fashion in terms of what we try for in our music. The first thing we did was with Comme des Garçons, for their Paris Men’s Fashion Week runway show in 2019. We had never done any live scoring before, we were very nervous – but two days before the show, during a meeting to prep the looks and music, Rei Kawakubo gave us a literal ‘thumbs up’ while listening to what we had prepared.
It was an amazing moment for us, our nerves were calmed and we had a great time. We’ve done more scoring work since for Comme, Byredo, Alyx and some others, it really pushes us to be more deliberate about the colors and moods we’re creating with our music in general. It’s something we want to keep developing – the drama and emotion in film scoring is really inspiring for us.
What is the new material about?
Lots of things, but mostly about the internal world we all carry around with us. The push and pull of the mind, other people, relationships, the struggles of living, love…all of this is wrapped up in our music. There are normally a couple of layers of meaning there to be uncovered. It’s something that people can immerse themselves in and make it theirs…create their own story if they want. Or just enjoy the sights and sounds.
This is not the first time you’re working with Jordan Hemingway, what else did you do together?
The first time we worked with him was the aforementioned Paris fashion week show. During the pandemic we’ve worked on his campaigns for Comme des Garçon Rouge, Byredo, and an Alyx ‘runway show’ that was shot on an active volcano, off the coast of Italy. He also shot and directed our latest video One by One.
What are your plans for 2022?
We have more than an album’s worth of material to release – but we’re just figuring out the right way and place to do it. It’s our best work yet, so we want to do it justice release wise…as much as we’d love to just put it all out there right now, it deserves better than just haphazardly shoving it out into the world. Plans should be finalised soon, but the one thing for sure is that we’ll have something bigger out this year.
One by One
Artist: VOWWS / @vowwsband
Editor: Maria Abramenko / @mariabramenko
Assistant: Antoine Schafroth / @a.schafroth
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