Warpaint's Theresa Wayman is about to release her album LoveLaws through her solo project TT: "I went through the ringer with this album."
Theresa Wayman is a highly revered guitarist and vocalist, best known for her work in the award winning indie group Warpaint. Yet on her last tour, Wayman was collecting sounds and samples for a project that had been on her mind for a while now.
"I have collected... a bunch of sounds over the years. Just sample packs, and [I've] made some of my own drum sounds as well. I've been experimenting on the computer for a long time," she says over the phone from the States in April this year. "Not really knowing where it was going, except for that I one day wanted to make an album."
And so LoveLaws was conceived and is released this Friday under the moniker TT. It's a big departure from indie-rock as Wayman explores electronic music - something she's been interested for years now.
"Hip hop and trip hop, and all that electronic music in general, has been an influence on me... since I was a teenager. It's just always really fun to do."
While she has been programming beats and experimenting for some time now, in 2017, Wayman finally got stuck into making LoveLaws. Enlisting the help of her brother Ivan Wayman to engineer and co-produce, and inviting producer Money Mark (Beastie Boys) into the fold as well, Wayman says the making of this record was not all smooth sailing, and while she had the ultimate last word, was all too happy to hear their thoughts.
"I liked collaborating with my brother on this. Not just being the one calling the shots. Just saying, 'I don't necessarily know what I want here yet. Do you have any ideas?' That kind of thing, where it's like I am open to finding gems that other people have in them."
"I went through the ringer with this album and had a lot of ups and downs, and sometimes thought that it was completely broken."
Bringing Money Mark in at the end of the process helped her realise that wasn't the case.
"Hearing his thoughts was really valuable. He came in more towards the end, but and then he played some lines on the stuff, and just did a couple takes. I went through what he put down later, and put it in the way that I wanted to. But what he played was so invaluable. It was just incredible, and just added so much."
But Wayman is the lead musician on this album, playing bass, guitar, and synth as well as programming most of the drum beats. She also had a little help from her Warpaint bandmates.
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The result is spacious, down-played and incredibly moving. Thematically, for Wayman, this was a chance to explore a side of herself that perhaps up until now, she hadn't been ready to address: love.
"I got out a lot of my yearning for... romance and partnership in this album. I feel silly being that kind of person, and being a woman..... I think it's important for women to think about other things besides romance and men, and I didn't like that side of myself. I didn't like that I was also that type of person," she explains.
Wayman is a solo parent to her son and spends much of her time off the road being a soccer mum. LoveLaws unearths the delicacy of finding and holding onto romance in her particularly unique context.
"I have a lot of other hobbies, and I like doing things and being independent. But I also still have that side of myself. So instead of fighting it, I just decided to embrace it and write about it. I think that that was a really good idea in the end, because I got... a lot of it out."
The tension between wanting a partnership and remaining independent is a core topic.
"Even though I'm a pretty strong and independent person, and I have a lot of good female relationships in my life, I've still lost myself in relation to men before. I still put myself aside, and my friends aside. Given that priority, which I think is easy for women to do, it's sort of almost a biological habit. There's something like we're ingrained to do purely for survival or something, as a species.... At this point, breaking that mould is really important.
"This album was also a contemplation on how to be an independent woman, who knows herself and doesn't sacrifice her own needs for other people, and men in particular."
The fragility and vulnerability comes through in songs like I've Been Fine and Safe - in fact, on all tracks. The approach to the songwriting is thoughtful and concise rather than a stream of consciousness. Still, the lyrics are suggestions rather than explanations; feelings rather than fully-formed thoughts. It works well. Beautifully, in fact. But the process was painful. She had to revisit the lyrics once they were recorded, a process she wouldn't recommend to anyone, but Wayman is glad she did it.
"I wanted to make sure I was saying things clearly. I actually admire that about pop music. I like how it's a really unabashed statement."
The sonics are dreamlike and hypnotic, and the breathy and grainy vocal delivery of lines like "I think I know when to stop, I know when love leaked out the bottom of our cup," all weave together to make, what Wayman describes as tapestry.
"I look at this album like a weaving. There's no one thing that's making the song get from point A to point B. It's kind of like maybe one thing, and then something else will take over. Then... you'll go back to that first thing, and then it'll go to a third thing. They're all moving in and out and weaving together to create the whole song, which is a tapestry. But it's not just about one thing, it's every part that was needed to get to the end point."
LoveLaws by TT is out Friday