Weyes Blood Gets Personal on ‘Titanic Rising’, an Interview
By Caron House
Natalie Mering, performing as Weyes Blood, will soon bring her live show to St. Louis, performing at Off Broadway on October 1, 2019. Her new album Titanic Rising is out on Sub Pop – a new label for her. We had the chance to catch up over the phone while she stopped in Athens, Georgia on her tour. We discussed the freedom that comes with being a more established artist on a label like Sub Pop, her strategy in putting a band together, and the themes that permeate the new album.
Caron House: I wanted to talk a little bit about your new record label, you're with Sub Pop now. Was it a different experience going in to record this new album with a new label?
Natalie Mering: I mean, yeah, I think as you continue to plod along as a musician, if you're doing pretty well, people tend to have a little more confidence in you so you can kind of make a record in a more luxurious circumstance. Like I could, you know, spend three months recording as opposed to one month. And I was afforded the opportunity to, you know, hire other musicians and things like that. So, it definitely gets a little bit more creative. But it also, you know, there's a little more pressure, but I think in general there's less of a, you know, when you're starting off as an underground or indie rock musician, they, the label will expect you to do everything yourself. And I think as you continue to progress, they're kind of like, "Yeah, let's get, let's get some other musicians in there."
Oh wow. That's wonderful. So, did you get to pick your backing band and everything?
Wow, that's wonderful. How did you choose who to bring along on this adventure to make the new album?
I was a big fan of the Lemon Twigs and they're also good friends with Jonathan Rado. So, Brian and Michael were like my first choice. And then I kind of used Chris Cohen and Kenny Gilmore, who were two guys I used on my last record. So, I'm kind of like all in the family style.
Now, do you have the same band out on tour with you or you have new folks?
I have new folks on the road with me.
Yeah. How's that gelling as you're in Athens, Georgia, you were mentioning earlier, so how are you guys coming together as a unit?
Really solidly. I'm a big, close friends with everybody, and we're all kind of having a good time. And you know, my keyboardist has been with me for a long time and my bassist sings a lot of the harmonies with me and we're really locked in. So, it's very fun.
Oh, that's wonderful. So, what was your intention with Titanic Rising as you were getting your ideas for this new album? What did you think you were wanting to do as you were putting it together?
I think my goal was to create a record that was, you know, about the personal experience of all these kinds of huge macro existential crises that we all face. You know, climate change and internet dating and all these, you know, different variables that aren't really easy to talk about but have a pretty big impact about how we all feel on a day to day basis.
Yeah, absolutely. That's fantastic. Well, the critical reception has been glowing. Has that felt gratifying to you as an artist or do you keep up with what the critics are saying?
I'm, I mean a part of me is definitely extremely happy and very grateful, but I try not to let it get to me. I never want to become too self-satisfied, so I try to not, I steer away from indulging myself with praise.
Yeah. Now are you...you're pretty early out on the tour right now, correct? Is Athens like one of the first dates you're doing?
Oh, no, no. We're kind of the middle of the tour, actually.
Oh, you're in the middle. Oh, okay. Have audiences responded in the way that you thought to the new material? Are there any songs that are particularly standing out as you're performing them?
Yeah. People really love “Movies.” It's a big sleeper. I was always trying to convince my label to put it out as a single and they're kind of like, "I think it's a little too weird." And I was like, "I think that's what kids like, kids want it weird."
Yeah. Keeping it weird. I like it. So, what, what do you have in store for us in St. Louis next week? You're going to be here on Tuesday at Off Broadway. And what, what kind of live set up are we looking at?
Well, we have a five-piece band and some underwater light simulators, so it's going to be like a deep-sea exploration. Lots of emotions and vulnerability and, you know, all that good stuff.
Oh, that's fantastic. Well, thank you so much. And Natalie, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us.
Thank you for having me.
Be sure to catch Wax Lyrical with Caron every Tuesday from 7-9 PM on 88.1 KDHX!