Mamalarky is a wonderful ride of music and friendship. They have known each other since they were burgeoning youths. You can hear a soft reminiscence in time when you listen to their swirly band of influences that range over genres, feelings and seemingly space. It drifts you off into a world of haunt pop that makes you want to mosh and sing along with skeletons in a glitter pit. Fionna Apple would approve.
Their journey has been a long one, playing drunken house parties, bars, and after hours, sweaty dens and stages across the sweltering east and west coast landscape, chilly nights in the studio and hot ass mornings waking up on the road.
Mamalarky captures the breath of life and all the in-betweens with a shimminring spin that make them worth a listen. We chat with front-woman Livvy.
Tell us the story of Mamalarky. How did you guys FIRST meet? Middle School? When did you first play together?
I met Dylan (drummer) the first day of middle school and I legitimately thought he was Dylan Sprouse from The Suite Life of Zack & Cody (I have evidence in my diary). He was one of my best friends throughout high school and we fell in L0V3, the real kind where you can’t stop hanging out, regardless of if you’re screaming, laughing, or sobbing, or being sort of weird and silent.
Michael (keys) was a grade older than me and Dylan, and we were fans from afar throughout high school. One night he and I were both separately performing at this dim venue called The Cactus Cafe. I was pretty sure he wouldn’t remember me from a few brief encounters we had, but he did! I was super stoked when we started chatting, and eventually, I got asked to play bass in his band Hip Modus.
So anyway, after playing with several bands in Austin, I had a pile of songs I had written and was sheepishly playing for people. Dylan and I started playing them together and soon after we asked Michael if he’d like to play with us and he said yeah!
Do you go back to TX often? Do you miss Austin? Does Austin sort of feel like LA when you come back to visit?
We go back as much as we can! We absolutely miss the community and all the humble love that radiates out of Austin. Austin feels so small and familial when we visit now, compared to LA. I see someone I know almost everywhere I go to Austin, and LA still feels huge and never-ending.
What are some of the themes in your latest music?
Lyrically, there’s a lot of inspiration to be found in the change of scenery in LA. I’ve been having a lot of fun pairing some of the major themes of my life with the more small, mundane moments and seeing how those details feel in the context of a song. Musically we’ve been really reaching outside of our normal toolbox, exploring cross-genre experimentation, leaning into those mini magic moments; that ONE PART of a song that makes you listen to it a bunch of times in a row.
What are some of your favorite generations in music and culture?
We’ve been really into the early 2000s lately. Clothing, music, TV-wise, it all seems so high contrast, very punchy and bratty. Also always really into ’60s Bossa Nova stuff from Caetano Veloso, Getz, the Gilbertos, because it makes you kind of unclench your cheeks and go…life really is beautiful.
You guys harmonize great together. I love the drum and keys. It’s like psych, jam-jazz, pop, rock, indie, soul, experimental dreamy soundtrack to so many weird but also lovely feelings. Like some many great things mixed up together.
Thank you for saying that, I may have to lift that description. We’ve actually struggled to nail down a genre, kind of flirting around in a lot of different ones. Hopefully, it makes our stuff sound exciting, but we definitely have had reactions that are like…what are Y’all.
Vocals are so good. I love your voice. When did you start singing?
I started singing really badly as soon as I could make a sound! I started trying to be better probably when I was around 7 or 8. I think I really tried to start honing it in my teens, writing harmonies over songs I liked and singing them for my friends. It is a deep cringe to reminisce on what that probably sounded like but ya know that’s just part of it.
What voices do you like? What vibes rather? Describe any feeling.
I like people who talk quietly and inwardly, in that sweet way that makes it feel like they aren’t trying too hard to get your attention. I love tasting someone else’s sweat on their cheek after you’ve spent the day outside together. I feel best when I am so absorbed in what I’m working on that I lose track of the day and at the end of it all, I can zoom out and see all that transpired while I was zoned in.
What are practices like?
Really great! Kind of just feels like hanging out and working through our shit for the next show. Lately, we’ve been going hard on Mario Kart as a post-practice ritual. Our favorite part of practice is when we’re working on a new song and everything ~clicks~ and it becomes something we couldn’t have imagined, to begin with, or exactly what we always hoped it could be, or somewhere between those two.
What was it like when you heard Mamalarky’s first record together?
We were like…I guess it’s real. Simultaneously the most vulnerable and powerful feeling, exciting and terrifying, etc. Overall, it was a very reflective period to see how lush a little DIY band could sound together after so many nights toiling away in our duplex…much to the neighbor’s constant complaints…sorry Y’all, we moved out.
What gets you in the mood to write?
Anytime I can be alone as hell. I call my writing the exorcism of my demons, which I think a lot of writers relate to. Getting out the shit that is a lot harder to say or talk about with people. I usually just fuck around on guitar for a long while until I start playing something that I can’t stop playing and then take it to everyone else and see what it stirs up in them. What Dylan and Michael bring to the song takes it to another dimension every time.
What’s the most WTF you ever saw at a house show?
Once there was this mosh going on at this house show, lots of bodies getting thrown around and speakers falling to the ground. We saw this kid get knocked to the floor, people still pushing and flying all around her. She stood up and we look down and her knee bone is dislocated really, really bad, sticking out of her leg, BAD. I tried for a long time to get her to go to the hospital but she had a warrant out for her arrest, and didn’t want to go for that reason, because she was convinced the cops could get her there? I think someone at the party eventually tried popping it back in. It was really fucked up, but she was the kind of person who was super jaded and worn at the age of like seventeen, so she handled it like a pro. I really hope her knee made a healthy recovery <3
What do you want to say to everyone reading?
Fuck Donald Trump. Get registered to vote.
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