'Love Is to Die': Warpaint's Bewitching Love Songs Are for the Outliers, Misfits and Anyone Else Who'll Listen

If Kurt Cobain and Joni Mitchell had gathered around a campfire in a stretch of woods off the Western coast and conjured up four musically gifted spirits, they probably would have turned out to be Theresa Wayman, Stella Mozgawa, Emily Kokal and Jenny Lee Lindberg, otherwise known as indie rock band Warpaint.

Since breaking onto the scene with their 2008 debut EP, Exquisite Corpse, the group has developed a talent for making fans question existential theories about life and love. Even their latest album, Heads Up, which mixes R&B and trip-hop vibes with their usual mellowed-out, downtempo rock sound, leaves listeners asking some of life's most unanswerable questions, like "Is this real? Are you real? Are we real?"

Related: Local natives want to use music to spark change on issues like global warming, equality

Whatever questions may arise while listening to Warpaint hits like "Disco//Very," "Undertow" or "Ashes to Ashes," the band aims to lead its listeners on an enchanting inward journey. Talking to Newsweek following their Governors Ball Music Festival performance in New York on Sunday, Mozgawa, who plays drums, and Wayman, vocalist and guitarist, said that self-reflection was just a natural aesthetic within the band and, on most occasions, it shows in their music.

Since Warpaint writes its own music, the songs are often based on the members' exquisite and personal experiences with love and loss and what they're feeling while enduring those dark moments—as they express in their 2014 cult classic "Love Is to Die." So they find it understandable that their lyrics, usually laced over a dark, brooding, synthy compilation of drums and bass guitars, resonate with particular groups of women and men who aren't necessarily interested in bubblegum, happy-go-lucky pop music when facing their own troubling times.

Warpaint chat with Newsweek about what's next after 'Heads Up' tour.
Theresa Wayman of Warpaint performs during the 2017 Hangout Music Festival on May 21 in Gulf Shores, Alabama. At the Governors Ball Music Festival in New York on June 4, Wayman and band member Stella Mozgawa talked to Newsweek about their creative process and what's next for their band. Matt Cowan/Getty Images

Read Newsweek's interview with Warpaint below:

You guys write your own songs, but there's always some sort of underlying messages within them. Are you pulling from your own personal experiences when you write a song?
Mozgawa:
Generally, whoever is singing the song has written the lyrics. There's only been a few exceptions where someone's writing or singing something that they haven't personally written. We all write the music together. And I think for the most part—it's not intentional—but it does come out as being quite self-reflective and kind of inward-looking, as opposed to looking out in the world and saying, "Oh, this political movement happened, and this is what we think about it." It's all very kind of like internal politics, I guess. So it's generally kind of introverted, as opposed to extroverted.

A lot of the issues and themes that you guys have incorporated in the music seem to be very female-forward. Is that the intention?
Mozgawa:
I don't think we necessarily think we have a responsibility to be more open or expressive as women, as opposed to just as humans. I don't think that we've ever felt pressure to be typically feminine in our emotional expression or something. I think we're just very communicative, sensitive people. And I think most people who make music are. That's where all the stuff comes from.

And it is one of those things where we're not the only ones that feel deeply. Everybody feels deeply, but people who have a proclivity to write and to create music or to create art typically end up expressing themselves in a way where people—like anyone else in the world—can relate to. I guess it promotes this connection with your group or your generation or something like that, which is what I think the function of music is.

I know some people like to joke that when you guys are taking a break from releasing new music you're actually in the woods casting spells.
Mozgawa:
Let them believe it.

The music does kind of have a bit of a bewitching effect, though.
Wayman:
The music can be a little haunting. I think that maybe in secret it's the intention that, I think, we like to be a part of the mystery. "Life is like a mystery," right? To quote Madonna.

Mozgawa: [singing] "Everyone must stand alone."

Wayman: It's like a mystery. And I think that sometimes it's fun to investigate weird theories on what's going on and magical theories or new age-y things. I don't know, [the music can sound] more like witchy stuff, just even for the fun of it. You don't have to 100 percent believe in it like you're in a cult or something. But exploring ideas about life that are not just what is right in front of you...and I think just because we kind of are OK with going there sometimes—some of us more than others—I think that that's why there's [that feeling in the music]. That's inherent in me, and I think Emily, all of us, so it translates into the music, just being out there. A little witchy.

Warpaint sings about love, but it's not ever in the typical, sad love song way. It's like dark and emo. Like "Drey," that is a love song, right?
Wayman:
It's definitely a love song. That situation—you know, it's weird: You find love and then somehow that dissipates, and then you're, like, finding yourself trying to find it again. It's like, "Well, I had love and then it went away, and now I'm going to try to find love again?" I think that's really strange.

Mozgawa: It's like finding your keys.

It makes me cry. But I'm also a very emotional person at times.
Mozgawa:
People have said that about that song, actually.

Wayman: It's like an emotional song. Everybody can relate to that, I feel like. You're like, "Wow. I was just in love. Now I'm not anymore. And now I'm going to try to find that again." It's like, Do you want that? Why doesn't it just stay? What's the issue?

I don't know, it's kind of weird and depressing. And also, if you are in love with somebody, sometimes they can have issues with you having had love with someone before, even though that ended. It's just a weird thing.

As musicians, I'd assume that it always feels like a relief to get those emotions out there and express how you're feeling. But does it ever get to a point where you feel like you're being too vulnerable when you're writing music?
Wayman:
I definitely do, for sure. I feel that way a lot, and it makes me question when I'm releasing stuff, like, "Do I wanna be that much of an open book?" But you just do whatever you do. Second-guessing it is never an urgent thing. I mean you could second-guess it enough for quality control, but for the most part, it's pretty good to just be unhinged and just go with what you're feeling as an artist.

Who are you making your music for?
Wayman:
All the outliers. The weirdos, the eccentrics, the nonconformists, that's who. And anybody that wants to hear it. Anybody it resonates with. In the end, that's all that matters.

Who are the biggest influences behind the music?
Mozgawa:
We have so many.

Wayman: I think there's a lot of [romantic '80s] influences. There's a lot of that from, like, Jen's side and also post-punk stuff from Jen's side. A lot of hip-hop or trip-hop. Trip-hop is a big, big thing. In the early years, for me, Björk was, like, a huge inspiration, and she's very electronic. I feel like her subject matter lyrically was a big inspiration for what I choose to write about, and what I think Emily chooses to write as well. Talking Heads is big for all of us.

OutKast is like an all-around big influence. OutKast is like one of the first [groups that inspired] moments I had where I was like, "I want to make music." I just wanted to make what they were making, even though that's not what I ended up doing per se. But it made me want to do that. There's a little folky stuff in there, like Joni Mitchell or Bob Dylan or something. But it's like all across the board.

What's next for you guys?
Mozgawa:
Touring a lot until the end of the year.

So it'll be a while before you release anything new?
Mozgawa:
No, no, there might be something new.

Wayman: We're starting to write already. We're writing stuff, in between [touring], when we're at home. It's a little bit difficult because we're all really busy. But we've already started a couple tracks. And we want to keep going and do maybe some collaborations. We have a couple collaborations in the works, but [we're] also just writing together. We're not with a label anymore right now, so we can kind of just release whatever we want for the moment.

'Love Is to Die': Warpaint's Bewitching Love Songs Are for the Outliers, Misfits and Anyone Else Who'll Listen | U.S.