Annabelle Lee tells me she has a lot to be nervous about. Her band, Mexican Slang, is headed out on its first tour, where Lee expects she’ll be subjected to border issues and her bandmates’ stinky feet for two weeks. All of those charms of being in a band are still new to her—Mexican Slang started as a solo bedroom recording project, but after releasing a slew of EPs on Bandcamp, Lee recruited a bassist and drummer and spent the better part of last year refining their sound. This tour comes just after they’ve released their most personal collection of songs yet, Inside The Velvet Castle (Buzz Records).
Ok, so what’s a velvet castle?
The original concept for the EP, or what it ended up manifesting into, was I started writing about a time in my life six years ago when I had spent some time in a psychiatric facility. The EP title is a sort of metaphor for that time.
It’s interesting that this EP has a concept, because you’ve said in the past you didn’t pay much attention to writing lyrics. What’s changed?
This time around I tried to take a little bit more of a direction with what I was doing. So the material is a little less sporadic. Everything on the record goes together a bit more. All the songs were written separately, but when they were fleshed out, they were fleshed out with that idea in mind.
How would you describe the sound of the EP?
Sometimes frantic and sometimes sedated. That was my goal. I didn’t want it to assault you the whole way through. I wanted intermittent periods of hazy, hallucinatory music to balance out the aggressive elements of our sound.
I’ve heard the Velvet Castle album art has an interesting story behind it.
So the story behind all of the photos I use for album covers is: I worked in a photo lab developing film photos for probably about five or six years at a bunch of different places. People would leave behind photos, or people would just throw things out. And we would kinda dumpster dive, and collect all of the photos they left behind or obviously didn’t want. So we would end up finding all of these insane photographs, and glimpses into people’s lives. So I have a couple of photo albums that are just all of the photos that I’ve collected in a six year span of working there.
That’s a long time to be doing that.
Yeah, and there’s a lot of freaky stuff from there, a lot of really, really bizarre things. Those photos are a really weird perspective into the human psyche and what people’s lives are like.
[magazine month=”August” year=”2014"]