It’s not every day that you come across a band formed with the help of Tinder, yet here Mamalarky stand. Having sourced their bassist Noor Khan from the dating app in 2018 after putting out a call for musicians, their line up – which also includes Livvy Bennett of Cherry Glazerr, Michael Hunter of White Denim, and Dylan Hill of Big Wy’s Brass Band – was complete. Following on from their 2018 EP Fundamental Thrive Hive, their self-titled debut album, released last month via Fire Talk, showcases their knack for combining diaristic lyrics and overarchingly fun melodies. Whilst their tour schedule was rudely interrupted by the global pandemic, Mamalarky still managed to devise creative output under these unusual circumstances. Despite living apart between Atlanta and Austin, the band recorded tracks like ‘Schism Trek’ and ‘How to Say’ while in quarantine; with that in mind, ‘Schism Trek’ certainly hits differently under the current climate. Wacky and wonderful at the same time, their sound is carved from 60s psychedelia melded with feel-good indie pop akin to Mall Girl or Alvvays. Album opener ‘Fury’ is a scuzzy welcome to the world of Mamalarky, while ‘Hero’ slides into a breezier, more laid-back sound, and the comparably mellow cut ‘You Make Me Smile’ demonstrates Livvy Bennett’s crooning vocals. Their ability to cross genres and seamlessly blend influences provides an exciting basis for them to build upon in 2021 and beyond.
We caught up with Mamalarky’s Livvy Bennett for this edition of our Artist Spotlight Q&A series, where we showcase up-and-coming artists and give them a chance to talk about their music.
The obvious but all-important question: How are you all? How have you been muddling through the various levels of lockdown? What’s been a positive you can take from the experience?
We’ve been wading through the chaos one day at a time just like everyone else. It’s been really great having the opportunity to practice our instruments any time we want, as well as tending to stationary things like plants and foster pets and home recordings.
You all have a plethora of experience playing with other bands, but what would you say it is about your time together as Mamalarky that feels different or makes your experience in this band special?
We’ve grown up together and that alone makes it very special. It’s a more group-centric band compared to others we’ve been in, we come to consensus as a team and carry little DIY duties that make it feel like we’re building something collaboratively. Also we have never laughed so hard on tour with anyone.
You’ve been playing together for a good few years now and already have one (very excellent) EP under your belt. Has the build-up to the debut album changed anything about the way you make music?
I definitely think logistically the album was a far different process. The EP was a classic 3-day studio experience, and the album was spread over the span of a couple years, by finding opportunities to make music when we weren’t touring with other projects. It definitely shaped my songwriting flow and allowed us more time to think about the release rather than just tossing it up for the world wide web.
What are you all currently spinning? What are your “must listen” tracks from the last few months?
Topaz Faerie is putting out a new track Friday that’s really cool. I also love ‘Swag’ by Peyton and ‘Control’ by Xinxin!!
Your debut album Mamalarky is out now. Is there anything you’d like to say to future listeners in advance of their first spin to maximise their enjoyment of the album? Anything you want listeners to go in knowing or thinking?
I’d tell them “Hey thank you for listening to our album! That means so much! You might enjoy this more if you come in with a readiness for emotional flux. We tried to put something on here for everyone, we journeyed to as many places as we could across the 10 songs 🙂 let us know what you think in our DMs.”
Did you listen to a lot of other tracks while you were in the process of making the album or do you prefer to enter a vacuum of sorts and focus solely on your own output?
It can feel like a forced vacuum when you’re really crankin’ out stuff or coming towards a deadline. But we always make space for lots of other musicians and producers that add inspiration. I was really caught up on guitarists like Dick Dale and vocalists like Bernadette Carroll, groups like Deerhoof and Shannon and The Clams are contemporary inspirations as well. All of Mamalarky is into so many different genres and artists which I hope gets reflected in the music.
Is there a specific way that you’d describe your sound in your own words?
Searching and finding music 🙂 this album especially is meant to show our personal and sonic exploration, I hope it shows.
Mamalarky’s self-titled debut album is out now via Fire Talk.