Natalie Mering recently moved back to her home state of California before releasing her latest album, “Front Row Seat to Earth.” It's the fourth album Mering has released under her band Weyes Blood.
The band has been compared to The Carpenters, Enya, and even to the “Twin Peaks” television theme song by Angelo Badalamenti. But most of the inspiration came from Mering’s experiences of going to church with her parents at an early age.
I grew up with church music… When I record, I think about sacred space and I think about what would be the sound of your soul if there is music coming out of it. It would probably be an echoey, strange chamber.
The Frame’s James Kim spoke with Natalie Mering about growing up in a religious household and how it affected the way she writes music.
On when she realized Christianity wasn’t for her:
My parents are super born-again Pentecostal Christians. So I was raised in a real spiritual, Bible Belt household. So I developed my own cynicism because there are always things in the bible that really bum me out.
I became really obsessed with "The Kids in the Hall" as a kid, and they had Scott Thompson, who's like the one gay member. I remember having this feeling that "Oh, Scott Thompson isn't going to heaven? How could that be?" That was my first big tipoff that something wasn't quite right with dogmatic Christianity. And then I was just trying to undo it since the age of 12.
On how her dad influenced her to become a musician:
My dad was a New Wave musician in Los Angeles in the late '70s and early '80s. He had a band called Sumner that was signed to Elektra/Asylum Records. They made one record and it's this really weird record. I knew he played guitar, but it wasn't acknowledged that he was a rock star.
I remember the day that me and my brother found out [about our dad]. I was probably 5 or 6 years-old. He was playing Chuck Berry songs on his electric guitar and he started telling us stories about shows he used to play and bands he used to play with. I couldn't believe it because I had only known him as the church guy playing worship songs at church.
I didn't know he had this secular rock star background.
On growing up listening to worship music and how it creatively inspires her now:
I grew up with church music. Most of the great classical music and early music of our time is written for God in a sacred space. So sacred music and sacred space music — that was my favorite thing about music. Not so much content-wise. Not so much the theory and concept of God, but just the idea that we've built this gigantic, stone cathedral palace for people to sing in. And there's things, acoustically, going on more than what it would sound like if that person was just standing in a room singing.
When I record, I think about sacred space and I think about what would be the sound of your soul if there is music coming out of it. It would probably be an echoey, strange chamber.
On the benefits of having a religious background:
The spiritual cosmology that was developed growing up in a household that wasn't afraid of using spiritual terms, like, my mom would be like, "There's a demon there! That's demonic!" Basically, she was saying, "Those are bad vibes. That person has a problem with something beyond themselves."
As much as it's very superstitious, I do believe in the general framework of that kind of thinking. So being able to talk about that openly with my parents helped me gauge a more emotional intuition. I'm very intuitive emotionally about other people and myself and I think that's reflected in my songwriting.
Weyes Blood releases its new album "Front Row Seat to Earth" on Oct. 21.