THERESA WAYMAN

Through­out adult­hood, Theresa Wayman has been torn be­tween two forces that rely on her: her band Warpaint, with whom she’s been the gui­tarist and vo­cal­ist for 14 years; and her son, who is now 12. Eve Bar­low meets Wayman to hear how she’s bro­ken free to g

Q (UK) - - Contents - Pho­to­graphs: Rachael Wright

Ther­apy, physics and mother­hood are just some of the in­gre­di­ents that have gone to make up the solo de­but al­bum by the Warpaint gui­tarist and singer.

ur­ing happy hour at a wine bar in LA’s Sil­ver Lake neigh­bour­hood, Theresa Beck­erWay­man puts down her glass of Caber­net, crosses her­self, and looks to the heav­ens in mem­ory of Stephen Hawk­ing. The English physi­cist died just be­fore Q’s in­ter­view, and for the cu­ri­ously-minded Wayman it’s a big loss. Wayman, 37, may be renowned as a gui­tarist and vo­cal­ist in the al­ter­na­tive rock band Warpaint but she’s far more ver­bose talk­ing about physics than mu­sic. A keen ex­plorer of the uni­verse, she seeks an­swers to life’s mys­ter­ies. Aliens? They ex­ist. The wa­ter cri­sis? It’s fix­able. Love? Work­ing on it. The last din­ner Wayman went on that blew her mind was with Swiss physi­cist Nas­sim Haramein. “It was amaz­ing,” she says, still star-struck. Wayman paints Haramein as a New Age Mes­siah. “He takes off where Ein­stein left off,” she says. “He’s the next wave of un­der­stand­ing the nat­u­ral uni­verse.” Haramein claims to be able to reac­quire in­tel­li­gence from past civil­i­sa­tions to solve our en­ergy deficit. He started a school – the Res­o­nance Science Foun­da­tion – which Wayman stud­ies re­li­giously. The or­gan­i­sa­tion has fewer than 12,000 Twit­ter fol­low­ers (the most no­table fan is Ali­cia Keys), but Wayman con­sid­ers it her mis­sion to bring more aware­ness to it. It has her per­ma­nently the­o­ris­ing… “The amount of gal­ax­ies that have suns like ours and plan­ets or­bit­ing them is some­thing like eight hun­dred mil­lion tril­lion. No wait, I’m spac­ing right now on how to ex­plain this,” she pauses, con­tem­plat­ing ex­trater­res­trial life over a plate of scal­lops. “Hawk­ing said it him­self: the prob­a­bil­ity that we’re not alone] is the big­gest num­ber he’s ever come across.” She shrugs. “So there you go.” Af­ter her sec­ond glass of red, talk me­an­ders from ion­is­ing atoms to ma­nip­u­lat­ing grav­ity to An­cient Egypt. “You should see this shit. It’s in­sane,” she mar­vels, her in­tense brown eyes deep­en­ing. As a mother to son Sir­ius B, her con­cerns for his fu­ture un­der­score this fas­ci­na­tion. “If none of this stuff is true I don’t care,” she says. “I’d much rather be think­ing about it. At least we’re ex­pand­ing the box, you know?” Wayman’s con­cerns with sci­en­tific dis­cov­er­ies are linked to her forth­com­ing first solo LP – LoveLaws. She too has time­trav­elled back­wards in or­der to move for­wards, ar­tis­ti­cally speak­ing. LoveLaws is a brood­ing, woozy lis­ten, for which she played most of the in­stru­ments and co-pro­duced with her brother Ivan. It took all the tools in her ar­mour to delve into the big­gest un­known of all: her­self. While

Wayman mined her past and traced her emo­tions back to her youth, she got the best ther­apy money can’t buy. The al­bum – she says – was 20 years in the mak­ing. “It’s been a long time com­ing.”

Through­out Wayman’s cre­ative peak, she’s been pulled in two dif­fer­ent di­rec­tions: 14- yearold Warpaint and 12- year-old Sir­ius. Ear­lier this af­ter­noon, Wayman was pos­ing for pic­tures above the free­way next to the Grif­fith Park foot­ball fields. She points at an en­trance where she and Sir­ius sneak in af­ter-hours for kick­abouts with Sir­ius’s dad. Wayman and he re­main am­i­ca­ble but are not to­gether. She’s re­leas­ing LoveLaws under the moniker TT – a nick­name he gave to her. Over the course of three al­bums, Warpaint’s record­ing and tour­ing com­mit­ments have been never-end­ing. Wayman has re­lied upon her par­ents to help raise Sir­ius. Bal­anc­ing her dou­ble life meant no time for her own self-dis­cov­ery. She’s a “soc­cer mom” by day and a rock star by night. Mak­ing room for Q in her white Honda, she re­moves a gui­tar stand from the back­seat. Wayman drives this car an hour out­side of LA every week to get Sir­ius to his foot­ball train­ing. “I have to find peo­ple to drive him to prac­tice right now,” she says, guiltily. The solo project is Wayman’s big­gest test of self-worth. As she talks – with a del­i­cate de­fi­ance – her iPhone con­stantly pings. LoveLaws’ com­ple­tion re­quired dili­gence. “Es­pe­cially with Warpaint and be­ing a mom and need­ing to live,” she says. “It’s hard. Adding an­other thing is crazy, but peo­ple do cra­zier. They wake up at 4am so they can go on the tread­mill. Then they go save the world and Steve Jobs it up. Wait, Steve Jobs didn’t save the world, did he?” She looks at her iPhone again, per­plexed. For the first time, Wayman is in charge of ev­ery­thing: re­leases, photo shoots, so­cial me­dia. “There’s a mil­lion things to jug­gle.” Tonight she’s or­ches­trat­ing a meet­ing for a mu­sic video. She lost time last week due to Warpaint shows in Mex­ico City and Texas. With Warpaint re­sum­ing writ­ing for their fourth al­bum next week, Wayman is up against it. Tak­ing the reins, how­ever, has been in­valu­able. “It’s em­pow­er­ing, I guess?” she says, un­sure if it’s OK to say so. “I don’t have to think about any­body else. It gives me this sense of self. I’ve had mo­ments where I’ve lost my iden­tity [ in Warpaint]. I’ll be on­stage or in an air­port or writ­ing an al­bum think­ing, ‘I don’t even know what I think any more, I just know what the group thinks.’” Wayman is not the first Warpaint-er to scratch this itch. Bassist Jenny Lee Lind­berg re­leased her solo LP Right On! in 2015 be­tween their sec­ond and third LPs. Drum­mer Stella Moz­gawa seems in­ca­pable of putting her sticks down, ap­pear­ing on al­bums by Kurt Vile, Jamie xx, Jag­war Ma, Cate Le Bon and many more. Gui­tarist Emily Kokal hasn’t stepped out yet, but Wayman says it’s in­evitable. “Emily has so much mu­sic. The minute she de­cides to do it, it’s not gonna be an is­sue.” Her friend­ship with Kokal is par­tic­u­larly com­plex. They met when they were 11 years old in their home­town of Eu­gene, Ore­gon, trav­elled Europe to­gether and re­lo­cated to LA in their early 20s on a wing and a prayer. In in­ter­views, Kokal and Wayman throw you off-guard with in-jokes. Some­times they get into tense jousts with one an­other. That’s part of the mys­tique of Warpaint: all four mem­bers hide within its shadow-y psy­che­delic veil. Even on­stage it’s never clear who is al­pha. “We’ve had a code­pen­dency for a long time,” she says of Kokal. “When we tap in we have this psy­chic con­nec­tion but it’s been a dif­fi­cult re­la­tion­ship to fig­ure out. There’s

I’ve had mo­ments where I’ve lost my iden­tity in Warpaint. I’ll be on­stage or in an air­port or writ­ing an al­bum think­ing, ‘I don’t even know what I think any more, I just know what the group thinks.’

some sort of un­writ­ten law be­tween us: we can’t move for­ward with­out each other. We have to go to­gether. It’s weird but it’s also beau­ti­ful.” If Wayman has dis­played surli­ness in past in­ter­views, it’s be­cause she’s been muscling through th­ese “dif­fi­cult” re­la­tion­ships. “It’s hard to get along with peo­ple,” she laughs. “That’s Warpaint. No kid­ding. We could have thrown the towel in but we’ve got­ten closer.” The band’s process has of­ten been painful and frac­tious. Per­sonal ful­fil­ment has been a strug­gle. “I’m so happy to be do­ing this,” she says of LoveLaws. “If I didn’t I would hate my­self. I’d be de­pressed for the rest of my life.”

Wayman’s mu­sic is gloomy be­cause gloom has fol­lowed her about like a cloud. “That’s the hard­est part of be­ing in a re­la­tion­ship with me,” she says. She was raised the el­dest of three by two artist par­ents. Money was tight. Mu­si­cal from the age of nine, Wayman had am­bi­tions to make an al­bum while sit­ting in her bed­room, but her re­bel­lion and a sense of ni­hilism about suc­ceed­ing in the arts got in the way. “I rocked the boat in­tensely when I was a teenager,” she says. “I was such a good kid, my mom and I were close. I was nerdy. I loved school. Then I got in­ter­ested in boys and I fucked it all off. Which was stupid.” Last year, be­tween on-the-road stints, she sat down to lis­ten to some ideas she’d col­lected while “mess­ing about” on her lap­top. Her brother, an en­gi­neer for The War On Drugs, agreed that there was an al­bum’s worth of ma­te­rial. Wayman has al­ways been more of a fan of hip-hop and elec­tron­ica than rock, and was work­ing on beats and loops while trav­el­ling. They needed to be ar­ranged and pro­duced back home in LA. Sim­i­lar to Warpaint’s out­put, the 10 tracks are rhyth­mi­cally driven and con­tain a gothic-meets-ex­otic sen­si­bil­ity. Wayman likens her­self to a painter – or “weaver” – of sounds. Open­ing track Mykki drags you into a dark un­der­belly rem­i­nis­cent of late-’ 90s Mas­sive At­tack; lead sin­gle Love Leaks is a waltz­ing folk-y num­ber; Safe con­tains the sounds of dis­tressed gui­tar licks and opens with a re­cre­ation of a scene from Al­fred Hitch­cock’s Rear Win­dow. Wayman wanted to use the orig­i­nal sam­ple, but the costs were too high. Love, un­sur­pris­ingly, is the al­bum’s ma­jor through-line. “There’s a love fan­tasy song, a brief one-night-stand song, a breakup song, a self-love song,” she ex­plains. “Ro­man­tic love never gets old for me.” Since her hor­mones ex­ploded, Wayman has had a ten­dency to get swal­lowed up in men. Most no­tably, she once dated elec­tronic nice boy James Blake. “I didn’t wanna fall into that pat­tern any more,” she says, of los­ing her­self. “So I took a long break from re­la­tion­ships. I hadn’t given my­self enough time to know who I am. Through the process of mak­ing this I went through so many ups and downs. There were times where I ab­so­lutely hated the way ev­ery­thing sounded. I was so judg­men­tal of my choices. I can be so mean.” Wayman’s re­la­tion­ship with her­self wasn’t just un­tapped, but un­healthy. Ther­a­pists will tell you: ev­ery­thing stems from child­hood. Chil­dren are a huge source of in­flu­ence for Wayman. One track, ti­tled Sas­safras In­ter­lude, is a short acous­tic song fea­tur­ing her man­ager’s 10- year-old step­daugh­ter. It’s the child’s com­po­si­tion. “Hap­pi­ness is found when you stop com­par­ing your­self,” she sings. Wayman re­lated. “She and I have be­come friends,” she says of the girl. “I talk to her like you and I are talk­ing. What the hell?” Sir­ius, too, is Wayman’s muse. “My son is so weird and funny and he doesn’t stop him­self,” she says. Wayman was not like that as a kid. Via med­i­ta­tion and “shadow work” she’s re­turned to her past to ex­or­cise cer­tain demons. Shadow work is a type of self-ther­apy that breaks your learned be­hav­iour. “Ask your­self, ‘When was the first time I felt this?’ Let your­self sit with the feel­ing and ex­pand it out­ward as op­posed to keep­ing it stuffed in­side. That’s what al­lows you to re­verse things. I did it a few times. It re­ally works.” It sounds al­most shamanic. Wayman grins. “I’ve never been a big psychedelics per­son. Right now there’s so many ways to tap into this oth­er­worldly stuff with­out any drugs – med­i­ta­tion, out-of-body ex­pe­ri­ences. There’s so much be­hind the veil, so much we don’t know.” Would she do ayahuasca? She pauses. “Hmm. I don’t know. I’m still fig­ur­ing it out.” It makes sense that next to chil­dren, Björk’s thirst for see­ing the world with con­sis­tently fresh eyes is Wayman’s big­gest in­spi­ra­tion. In that teenage bed­room she ob­sessed over De­but ( 1993), Post ( 1995) and Ho­mogenic ( 1997). “I lis­tened to her non-stop. Björk wove this ta­pes­try of a song and I would think, ‘I’d love to do that.’ I don’t see my­self as a gui­tar player, or a bass player, or even a vo­cal­ist. You cre­ate this pic­ture of a song. What­ever that takes to put to­gether – that’s the kind of artist you are.” When asked about the time she met Björk, Wayman hangs her head in shame. “Oh God,” she says. “My sto­ries of meet­ing Björk are hor­ren­dous. I can’t. I’m never go­ing to try again.” The first time it was Wayman who went to say “hi”. She tripped up and fell onto Björk’s arms, pulling her down with her. Wayman tries to adopt Björk’s high-pitched speak­ing voice. “She said, ‘Some­thing’s

hap­pen­ing!’ She was so con­fused and weirded out.” The sec­ond time, Wayman was stoned be­fore a Warpaint show and Lind­berg’s ex-hus­band – Chris Cun­ning­ham – brought Björk back­stage to meet them. “Ev­ery­thing that came out of my mouth was just…” Again she de­spairs. “But Emily made Björk laugh. She rubs that in my face. She has pic­tures, too. She shows them to me. I’m like, ‘You want me to be happy right now?’”

The good news is that Wayman is happy right now. “Lately I’ve had this feel­ing where I’ll look around at the world and I don’t hate every­one. Usu­ally I’d say, ‘What’s the point? Why do we go to work every day and not re­ally do what we wanna be do­ing?’” It seems the bal­ance of Warpaint, Sir­ius, quan­tum physics lec­tures and her own solo out­let is an al­ter­na­tive life bal­ance she can get by with. “I want to live more of an artist life,” she says. “I’ve let go of this young, de­bauched side of my­self. At least for the time be­ing.” With her plate over­flow­ing with her own solo tour and an up­com­ing Warpaint run sup­port­ing Harry Styles, Wayman frankly doesn’t have room for par­ty­ing. “I can’t imag­ine stay­ing up all night drink­ing. There was al­ways a part of me that thought it might be bor­ing to be the per­son who leaves early. I’m usu­ally the last one stand­ing. My friends who win Os­cars; they’re the ones who go home early.” Q won­ders who Wayman knows with an Os­car? She grows em­bar­rassed. “That sounds so dumb.” She back­tracks. “I live in Hol­ly­wood. I know peo­ple who have won Os­cars and Gram­mys. They are mar­ried to their work.” For Wayman, per­haps the art will be her great­est love of all.

There’s a love fan­tasy song, a brief one-night­stand song, a break-up song, a self­love song. Ro­man­tic love never gets old for me.

Free­way spirit: Theresa Wayman, Los An­ge­les, 14 March, 2018.

Soc­cer mom by day, rock star by night...: Wayman at John Fer­raro Ath­letic Fields, Grif­fith Park, Los An­ge­les, 14 March, 2018.

With Warpaint (from left, Stella Moz­gawa, Jenny Lee Lind­berg, Wayman, Emily Kokal), Philadel­phia, 2014.

“I’ve let go of this de­bauched side of my­self. At least for the time be­ing.” Wayman en­joys the scenery, Son­nynook River Park, Los An­ge­les.

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