When Warpaint returned to Los Angeles in July after a two-month tour that spanned the western hemisphere, Emily Kokal, one of the all-female quartet’s vocalist/guitarists, would often find herself wandering the hills of her Echo Park neighborhood instead of relaxing at home. “I’m so used to moving and seeing new things,” she said over coffee recently at a local cafe. “It’s hard to be in the zone of staying still.”
The condition was only temporary, though, as the group is already back on the road. Next week they’ll hop on the European festival circuit after a handful of West Coast shows that includes a Sundance Next Fest event this Sunday at the Theatre at Ace Hotel in Downtown L.A., which pairs them with the Iranian-American filmmaker Ana Lily Amirpour‘s indie vampire flick “A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night.”
It’s not hard to see how this match was made: Warpaint weaves sonic spells that are hypnotic and a little bit spooky. On their eponymous LP, recorded with the producer Flood and released in January, one can hear shades of the seminal U.K. punk band the Slits in the spare beats and schoolyard harmonies of “Disco/Very,” while the plaintive, airy “Keep It Healthy” recalls early Cat Power. On the most mesmerizing track, “Love Is to Die,” keys and chords shift like a psychedelic light show, bleeding into each other over a bed of snaky grooves. Live, there’s a palpable energy between the women, who include, in addition to Kokal, the singer/guitarist Theresa Wayman, the bassist/vocalist Jennie Lee Lindberg and the drummer Stella Mozgawa.
“People often ask me in interviews, ‘Are you guys friends?’” said Mozgawa with a raised eyebrow. “We couldn’t possibly do what we do if we weren’t friends.”
Warpaint’s artistry, not to mention their effortlessly tomboyish sense of style, has earned the band plum gigs at fashion parties for Isabel Marant and Hermès as well as an opening slot for Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds earlier this summer. It’s a glamorous life, but it’s grueling, too; the key for the women of Warpaint is making time for the routines and rituals that keep them grounded (and, of course, packing smart). Here, they list their tried-and-true road essentials.
Palo Santo wood
This South American incense “immediately puts personality into any space,” Wayman says. “Burn some in a hotel room, and the room feels like yours.”
Big Mac overalls
“These are the most comfortable,” says Lindberg. “I’ve worn them since high school; it’s like a uniform.”
Mozgawa swears by this herb, “an amazing supplement that staves off illness.”
Ohto mechanical pencils and Pigma Micron pens
Wayman goes to Kinokuniya in L.A.’s Little Tokyo to stock up on her favorite writing implements. “Being on tour means you’re around many people all the time,” she says. “It’s nice to have a personal space to dive into to keep yourself connected to you.”
Nike iD custom sneakers
Kokal emphasizes the importance of “packing lighter than you’d like to,” which means only one pair of shoes in her suitcase. This summer, her self-designed Nikes have filled the bill.
Bath salt packets
“It’s so easy to throw a few in the suitcase,” Wayman says. “Whole Foods has the best selection.”
Bose SoundLink Bluetooth speaker
According to Mozgawa, this portable sound system is the key to “an impromptu party.”
Marc Maron’s WTF podcast
“The best podcast on the market,” says Mozgawa. “He has the most honest conversations with these people! I must have listened to 25 in the last week.”
Teen romance novels
“It’s amazing to have something to lose yourself in, and fantasy-hokey B.S. always does the trick for me,” Lindberg says. “My latest obsession is ‘Vampire Academy‘ by Richelle Mead, and I’m getting ready for ‘Beautiful Creatures‘ by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.”
Trina Renea Hydrate Me Pollution Protection Mist
“Hydration is essential, especially with all of the flying,” Lindberg says. The L.A. aesthetician’s products, particularly this one, are “great for all types of skin and reasonably priced.”