Interview: True Womanhood

Stephanie Glass

True Womanhood

True Womanhood.

The first time I heard about True Womanhood was back
in 2008 due to a co-worker of mine having a slight thing for the former bassist
of the band. Back then they were known for a dark alternative sound that
garnered stereotypical comparisons to Sonic Youth and Radiohead. The last few months has seen
the group do a 360. Diving into dancier tendenices, the now duo, Thomas Redmond and Noam Elsner, have been popping up like
mad on an assortment of D.C. and national blogs, in large part thanks to their Moombahton-influenced
track “Minajah”. During a furiously creative few weeks Redmond and Elsner recorded
“Minajah” and ten other songs on a reel-to-reel tape deck, titling the project
the Reel-to-Real Sessions. I recently spoke to Redmond via phone about the genesis of True
Womanhood’s new sound, the Reel-to-Real
creative process, and the struggles and benefits of going against today’s
genre obsessed music world.

On
the Reel-to-Real Sessions, I know
you guys were influenced in part by Moombahton. How did you get involved in
that and have it become part of the sound that you are doing?

Well, we’ve been for a long time been
thinking that pop music and hip-hop and pop/hip-hop has been the music in
America that has been pushing things forward the most. A lot of rock music has
been pushing back to a very specific time in the 80s and a very few core group
of bands to draw influences off of. There are big exceptions, like obviously Animal Collective is very forward
looking in making something new, but just in general the rock scene has been
kinda fucked up on nostalgia for a while now.

We’ve just been looking to dance
clubs, dance, and pop music for stuff that is really pushing forward. I think
the new song (“Minajah”) reflects that, but also shows that we are still a
band. The reason we decided to work with the analog tape is because everybody
who is doing that type of music in the indie world is pretty much working with
the same one or two computer programs, mainly Ableton. We have Ableton and we’ve
been working with it and are no means as proficient to the extent other people
would be, but we decided it would be really cool to have an organic band
orientated genesis of the same sort of dance or trance type music.

MINAJAH by truewomanhood

Do you think it is something you will use in further
recordings or was it kind of just an experiment?

Oh certainly. I think we’ve got eleven
songs started that was the first. We’ve got another one that we’re getting
pretty close to finishing. It’s a cover of Pictureplane. That is one of
those bands that have been influencing us a lot. He’s not really a band, its
kind of a DJ/trance artist. He’s a transformer (laughs). But he does a lot of sampling and stuff with dance music.
I’m not sure how he makes the stuff but we took his songs, pulled all the
pieces apart and rearranged it into a sort of band type of way. It’s a pretty
cool interpretation. We’ve got a bunch more songs coming out that I don’t know what
we are going to do with them when we’re done. We might put them together in an
EP or something.

“Minajah”
has been getting a lot of press from The Washington Post and a lot of different
blogs. Is that the direction the next EP might be going in?

Oh yes, certainly. That song came
together so quickly. I think we had the whole song sketched out with the beat
and everything in one day. It felt like the best example of where we’re looking
to take our music. It just came together really well and we felt great about
it. We put it out and the reaction we’ve been getting has been amazing. I don’t
think we’ve ever put out a song that has immediately gotten that much press. It’s
great to have a song go so well from start to finish.

I know at least on your first EP Basement
Membranes
, the lyrics are very dark. What's your lyrical process?

It’s definitely measured. I feel a lot of
music these days the lyrics are an afterthought and because of that
the vocals are treated in a very spectral, ambient way. Often times you can’t
even understand what is being said. That sounds cool, but that also means the
music isn’t going to last as long. A cool sound is a cool sound, but when you
compare that to something that has some sort of weight that’s when you are
getting somewhere. That is always a big concern of mine. I don’t want the stuff
to be disposable. In blog culture the music is absolutely disposable. It’s a WordPress. No one pays for it. If
you’re a band you’ve pretty much got one sound and they want to move on. That’s
just not what we are doing.

When
did you guys record the Reel-to-Real
Session
? I read that you guys met Stevie Wonder at Guitar Center? And that he approved of your synthesizer purchase?

We got the synthesizer back in August or
September, yes. When we met Stevie Wonder. He approved.

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