MOTHXR happened like paint thrown at a canvas: The creation of a band, their songs and music videos aren’t planned, yet the pattern falls into place to create a piece of art.
Singer Penn Badgley (yes, Dan Humphrey from Gossip Girl), bassist and producer Jimmy Giannopoulos, guitarist Simon Oscroft and keyboardist Darren Will were friends in Brooklyn before creating MOTHXR. They didn’t intend to create a band together; they just wanted to create music. The four friends rented an apartment through Airbnb in Los Angeles and created five songs in five days with just a laptop.
The sound came naturally for them, despite having no expectations besides keeping it “minimal,” Oscroft says.
“There wasn’t any thought behind it,” Oscroft says. “We write music without intention to become conventionally successful. There’s no hidden marketing messages or writing to fit in. It still is and always was from the beginning just a project for fun to feel creatively inspired, and this is what came out and people seem to be liking it, so that’s nice.”
Their first album, Centerfold, was released in February. They finished their European tour in March and will play at 9:30 p.m. May 6 at Rose Music Hall with POLIÇA.
They build their songs one layer at a time. First, they start with a programmed drum beat. They feel out the vibe and act on their instinct, adding more instruments on top of the beat. Badgley writes most of the lyrics, while the other three contribute. No song is finished until every band member is satisfied with the song.
“It’s like a recipe,” Oscroft says. “You can’t see in the beginning how it’s going to end up. Once the whole thing comes together then we spend time thinking about it, but not too much. We like to write very spontaneously and fluidly. It’s just throwing paint at a canvas and trying to create a symmetry between all the shapes and colors and hopefully it will be a recognizable image by the end of it.”
MOTHXR’s sound has been described as “slinky, falsetto-slick cut full of cinematic synths and a strutting, palm muted guitar line” by Noisey, Vice’s music website, and “sex music” by the Huffington Post. The music is meant to make people feel something, but what in particular is up for interpretation.
“As long as it provokes feeling or a thought, it could be considered an art,” Oscroft says. “We want people to put it on during their day in whatever scenario they’re in and absorb it. We don’t have a desired reaction.”
The first track on the album, “Impossible,” is one that sticks out to Oscroft as one that solidified the band’s unique sound. It’s the first song they created together.
“We found the sound instantly,” Oscroft says. “Once we finished that song, we had opened up the doors and filtered everything that was flowing through.”
The band does everything itself. From writing and producing their own songs to directing their own shoots, there’s no part of the creative process that the band isn’t in control of. The foursome will be releasing a new music video every week for the next 11 weeks. These videos were filmed during their European tour by, not surprisingly, spontaneous road trips.
“We just by pulled the van over on the side of the road anywhere we were inspired or in a strange city or strange place and filmed these one-shot music videos,” Oscroft says.
Even though their music is exclusively made on a laptop, the band performs all their music live. Each show brings a new interpretation of their music based on their setting.
“It’s much heavier than the record and a more intense listening experience,” Oscroft says. “The entire thing is a giant release of energy.”
Columbia is the penultimate stop on their tour, but the band is planning another U.S. tour in October. More albums are definitely on the way, Oscroft says. Making music comes naturally and the four have no intention of stopping anytime soon.
“It’s not a thought; it’s the only thing that we do and that we want to do,” Oscroft says. “It’s pretty one track mind when you’re creative. We’re always creating.”
Edited by Katie Rosso | firstname.lastname@example.org