It might make you uncomfortable
The constant feel of push and pull
Opens “Schism Trek,” the lead-off single, and first peek into Mamalarky’s debut album out tomorrow via Fire Talk. Even with singer Livvy Bennett’s soft-spoken delivery, her lines leave a lasting impression and hint of what’s to come on the Atlanta (via Austin and LA) group’s awaited release. Colorful and unabashedly curious, Mamalarky’s four members (Noor, Livvy, Michael, and Dylan) direct their new record at a dizzying pace. As a result, the band continually teases with the idea of balance, creating a unique yet insistent sense of unpredictability that keeps the record off steady ground.
It’s an impressive and encouraging collection of tracks and one that the band has been working on for nearly two years since forming back in 2018. In preparation for their LP’s release tomorrow, we gave the band some film to document their final experiences and feelings working on the record. We also briefly chatted with the four about their recording process and how the pandemic this year has affected their work, perspectives, and outlook moving ahead. Check out the photo diary and our conversation below.
Slumber: If you could describe your upcoming debut in three words to someone who hasn’t listened to it, what would you say?
Mamalarky: Citrusy, Lilliputian, [and] Kaleidoscope
Slumber: Finishing and releasing an album during a pandemic is a very new experience. How has the process been for you? Any disadvantages? Moreover, any unforeseen advantages to it?
Noor: It’s definitely a weird time to be releasing music and self-promoting on the internet a ton. The most disappointing parts are not being able to hang out with each other (which is why some of us made the decision to move in together!) and not being able to tour around this record, especially as a band that loves performing. But, we’re learning how to be a little scrappier with our approach to the album!
Something that’s exciting is that it feels a lot less out of the ordinary to hit up people around the world that we’ve always wanted to work with because in the virtual space there are so many more possibilities. We’re trying to make the most of what we got and I like to think that this pandemic is the universe telling us to step back, take a deep breath, and work on grounding ourselves before big things come our way.
“We’re trying to make the most of what we got and I like to think that this pandemic is the universe telling us to step back, take a deep breath, and work on grounding ourselves before big things come our way.”
Slumber: You’ve all been working on this self-titled debut album for around two years. Has anything changed during that process – did you have different feelings, intentions, and goals starting the release than later on?
Livvy: I can’t imagine telling myself two years ago all the cool stuff we’ve done since the beginning of writing this album. Overall, I think I’ve become a more conscious writer and producer over time which has allowed my music to feel more intentional, though I still veer to the side of an experimenter rather than a planner.
Slumber: You all made the move from Austin to LA and have had to navigate both music communities. From your perspective, are the scenes pretty similar or different? How has your experience in either or both of them influenced this record?
Dylan: I think musicians of all genres would be warmly welcomed into both, but the focus seems different between the two. In Austin, you tend to see a lot of extremely talented musicians packed into a very small scene and it can be hard to break through; LA has a tinge of superficial-ness that doesn’t necessarily phase the people actually creating beautiful music there, hell, maybe it even pushes them to be more authentic. I think the progression from one city to the other can definitely be seen from our first EP release to this record in everything from the sound of the record to the lyrics themselves.
Slumber: What’s your favorite memory from the writing, recording, or release process?
Livvy: The memories I always come back to are the parts of the record that are entirely improvised. Michael’s low bassy synth in “You Make Me Smile” is something that sticks out to me in my memories since that was just a totally off the cuff addition that we ended up loving. Dylan, Noor, and I were all looking at each other like UHHH is this real? as he was recording it.
Slumber: And, as soon as the pandemic is over, where do you want the first place you perform the new album?
Noor: When Covid is completely dead and gone and pandemics are hopefully a reality of the past, we want to perform at literally the nastiest, stinkiest, grimiest, sweatiest indoor venue with a thousand people packed together moshing to our slowest song.
“Overall, I think I've become a more conscious writer and producer over time which has allowed my music to feel more intentional.”
Slumber: What, if anything, have you learned anything about yourself from working on this record?
Michael: Everything we do is an expression of our circumstances. We’re all just channeling the people who surround and inspire us, and in turn, they’re reflections of us… but then where does it really come from? If everyone is just a sponge then what are we soaking up?
Slumber: What’s something you’d like your listeners to gain, learn, or feel after they listen through the record?
Dylan: I would want them to feel hopeful! I want people that listen to us to know we care about them and that we really try hard to create something that they would want to listen to. We love our listeners, I want them to feel that.
Slumber: Lastly, if a movie was being made about Mamalarky and you could cast the person playing yourself, what’s the group’s new lineup?
Michael: The disembodied voice of David Attenborough.
Dylan: Animal, the muppet drummer.
Livvy: Toad from Frog and Toad.
Noor: Wall-E, the sweet, kind, resourceful robot.
Listen to “Schism Trek” below and pre-order Mamalarky’s S/T debut out tomorrow (11/20) via Fire Talk.