Arts

Warpaint guitarist Theresa Wayman tells us about her debut solo album LoveLaws

Best known for her work in LA four-piece Warpaint, who play Dublin next month, Theresa Wayman's debut record has been brewing since she was a teenager. The 37-year-old talks to Joe Nerssessian about love, heartbreak and motherhood

Theresa Wayman's new album is LoveLaws

IF YOU listen back to Theresa Wayman's performance on Radio 4's Woman's Hour last month, you might hear the Warpaint guitarist play a wrong note at the start of her track, I've Been Fine.

She quickly regained her composure and the slip-up wasn't noticeable. That is until she admits to it later that morning when we meet in a central London hotel to discuss her first solo project, LoveLaws.

Wearing a long dark overcoat over a white jumper, Wayman's dark hazel eyes look tired. Not just owing to the early radio start, she reveals, but also due to jet lag after a journey from her base in Los Angeles via New York.

It's 14 years since she started Warpaint, an art-rock quartet who have always embraced electronic and experimental sounds. The 37-year-old isn't the first of the group to release solo work (bassist Jenny Lee Lindberg already has one album out), and Wayman is clear this isn't the sign of a split, but more about being able to explore their individual emotions in full through their art.

"Because Warpaint is a collaboration, everyone's putting in a piece of themselves but it's not the whole thing," she says.

"If someone had branched off really early days, it would have been freaky but it feels OK now."

LoveLaws has been a long time coming. Some of the songs were first written in 2011 but the entire journey has been brewing since Wayman was a teenager.

Recorded during breaks between Warpaint's touring schedule, the single mother (she had a son in 2005), co-produced the record with her brother, Ivan, with support work from Dan Carey (Kate Tempest, Bat For Lashes) and Beastie Boys collaborator Money Mark.

A blend of guitar, bass, synth and drum beats, the delicate album's sound is drawn from Wayman's early interest in using emerging technology and shows off her talent as a multi-instrumentalist.

"I really click with that way of making music," she explains. "It doesn't make it easier to write a good song but it's easy to get your ideas out now.

"It works for a lot of people because it's more simple but I don't know what it was that made me wait until now."

Still, she's quick to defend herself against criticisms of adopting anything just because it may be in vogue and cites Bjork and OutKast as artists who inspired her.

"The desire to do electronic music is not something that comes from how popular it is now. It's been in my blood since I was a teenager which was late 1990," she says, adding a self-satisfied "So there", with a smile.

Released under the TT moniker (a nickname given by friends), I've Been Fine explores her return to happiness in the period after heartbreak. Wayman, who has dated James Blake, is happy to reflect on the album's romantic connotations, though sidesteps whether it was focused on her split from the British musician.

"It's the excitement of a new chapter rather than the sadness of what you were, or what you just left. And also kind of just sticking it to him a little bit ... 'Hey I've been fine, don't worry about me'."

The album also goes further, examining the ups and downs of love as Wayman struggles to find time for other people in a demanding industry.

Pouring such emotions into music has helped her find a lot more balance and patience, and she now finds value in spending time alone.

So in a sense the album has already achieved everything Wayman set out to do?

"Yeah, totally," she says. "For me it really has."

Swirling her coffee around in her mug, she pauses. "It's like a hologram of me. It's still connected and I really want to push it in a direction that remains true to me. I'd like to try and keep it as true as possible."

The release of the album comes as part of a busy year, with Warpaint preparing to start work on their fourth studio album.

Reflecting on their well received performance at Glastonbury last year, Wayman, who is no boastful rock star, admits it would be cool to see them headline the festival.

Describing LoveLaws as "just the tip of the iceberg", Wayman is confident this is not a one-time journey, in the sense that just because she has mined some of her emotions she can now return fully satisfied to the collaborations of Warpaint.

"I want to keep developing and not just have it as secondary as much as possible," she says.

"There's a lot more. I feel like I've opened a door that hopefully I don't have to close or put on hold on for too long because of Warpaint. I want to be able to continue do both."

:: Theresa Wayman's LoveLaws is out now on Caroline International. Warpaint play the Forbidden Fruit festival, Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Dublin, June 2-4 (ticketmaster.ie).

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