Kristin Slipp & Cole Kamen-Green of musical duo mmeadows discuss their self-reflective nature, their lack of regard for labeling their music, humanity in music, and more!
Stream: “A Matter of Perspective” – mmeadows
From the outset, mmeadow’s music is utterly enthralling. The way in which the duo perfectly intertwine immersively atmospheric production with affecting vocals is nothing short of astonishing. Their new single “A Matter of Perspective” represents their finest work yet, with the immediately engaging lyrical sentiment proving to be enrapturing.
Kristin Slipp and Cole Kamen-Green make up mmeadows, and, individually and together, they’ve already had careers that many would dream of. Cole Kamen-Green has worked with the likes of Beyonce and Kevin Morby. While, Kristin Slipp currently sings and plays keyboard in the Brooklyn-based Dirty Projectors, who released their 8th studio album Lamp Lit Prose last year. “A Matter of Perspective” serves as the follow-up to the duo’s beautifully romantic track “I’ll Never Let You Go,” which was released earlier this year.
“Matter of Perspective” will join “I’ll Never Let You Go” on mmeadows’ debut EP, which is due for release this December. Given the duo’s combined talents, their debut body of work is set to be an unmissable listen. With “Matter of Perspective,” the duo showcases a slightly darker sound, and that shift is accompanied by lyricism that’s more intimately personal than anything they’ve done before.
Atwood Magazine spoke with Kristin Slipp & Cole Kamen-Green of mmeadows about the duo’s self-reflective nature, their lack of regard for labelling their music, humanity in music, and more!
Atwood Magazine: The lyricism embodied within “A Matter of Perspective” is deeply personal, but it’s that untainted authenticity that also makes it extremely relatable. When you’re writing, do you ever contemplate what your listeners will take away from your lyricism or it is just something you don’t think about?
Kristin Slipp: My lyrics and melodies are more often than not born at the same time. The words will start as vowel sounds and I mold them later into something coherent. So I guess the answer is that my lyric-writing process is more intuitive than reflective. Though the scenarios painted seem personal, the plainspoken nature of them (fingers crossed) allows the humanity to shine through, and that’s I think what can draw people in. I’m a big fan of humanity in music.
Your last track “I’ll Never Let You Go” served as your first release since two tracks in 2017. What made that track feel like the right one to return with?
Slipp: We’ve been working really hard on this new body of work. We didn’t want to release anything new until the material was strong enough, and in August we felt that “I’ll Never Let You Go” was ready to see the light. I was on the road with Dirty Projectors for the lion’s share of 2018, so our work on the album (which is actually two EPs) happened somewhat piecemeal – another reason why there was a gap year in between releases.
You both directed the video for “A Matter of Perspective,” alongside Alex Munro & Holly Macdonald, what was the creative process like?
Cole Kamen-Green: After realizing that my first idea of having a pony ride with us in a convertible was untenable, I dialed it back a bit and limited my scope to goats, bulls, and farm. We magically secured a perfect location at Nadeau Farm in Hamden, CT. The woman who runs the farm said her “goats are like puppies, we’ve got massive bulls, and a few ponies, come on up!” We knew the video wasn’t going to have a narrative. Instead, we wanted to use the universally beloved cute animal video as a backdrop for a song with a somewhat serious tone to subvert its meaning a little, thus creating a dual “perspective” (hehe). Alex and Holly are super flexible and focused. Having worked with a lot of different artists on a ton of shoots, they took our very vague ideas of what we wanted and worked out some really wonderful shots. Kristin and I edited the video with much guidance and assistance from Alex.
I love the overarching theme of different perspectives that obviously serves as the lyrical backbone of the track. How did you initially land upon that idea for the song?
Slipp: Between the two of us we have, like, a lot of years of psychotherapy under our belts. As we are both intensely self-reflective, “emotional grappling” is a theme running through all our songs. There’s often more than one POV in there. Self-discovery is like fighting yourself in a peewee wrestling match. It’s hard and messy and not that exciting to anyone except for you, and maybe you get hurt a little bit and it feels shitty, but you’ve been training for this all season, so you’re ready. Sometimes you win, sometimes not. But you don’t quit! And it’s peewee, not high school, so the stakes feel really high to you, but in the grand scheme, they’re not.
How did you initially start working together as a duo?
Slipp: We’ve known each other for over a decade, and have, for that length of time, been in another band together, Cuddle Magic. In 2015ish I started craving another outlet, one where I had more space to make decisions. I taught myself Logic and started making music on my computer. Cole and I had a couple writing sessions around then, and it was a natural fit.
Kamen-Green: The smaller the group, the more exposed. The more exposed the more vulnerable. The more vulnerable, the more you can find reasons to shy away. I think we were both a little nervous to show each other what we were working on, but eventually we realized that whatever neuroses that prevented us from collaborating sooner were bullshit. Once we started, it became easier and easier.
Following on from that, how has your creative partnership evolved since you started the duo?
Kamen-Green: We’ve become more comfortable in what we can offer and what we can’t. I remember the first time I wrote a song with a melody for Kristin. I was super psyched on it. I had tunnel vision. “This is the shit” kinda feeling. Then I showed it to her. She said she’d never sing that. It’s not that she didn’t like it, it’s that her voice would not gravitate towards that kind of melody. It hurt to hear, but made total sense. The best thing I can offer is not a vocal melody. I don’t really sing. So I offer what I’m best at and she does the same.
What artists do you admire? What specifically draws you to them?
Slipp: I think my favorite musician in the world is Betty Carter. I still cant believe what she does with her voice – her sense of time-feel and rhythm is unreal. I admire the songwriting of Connie Converse – there’s deep sorrow running through her work, but I also find it comedic in an earnest way. She disappeared sometime in the 70s. I hope she’s still out there somewhere, penning songs by the pond. Thomas Bartlett recently introduced me to the work of Mary Margaret O’Hara. I’ve only seen videos of her performances, but they’re so evocative they gave me chills and watery eyes. I’m excited to dig into her (limited) catalog.
Kamen-Green: Madlib, Kate Bush, Thomas Mapfumo, Sly and Robbie Dunbar, Miles Davis, Caroline Polachek, Benjamin Lazar Davis, Steve Reich, MF Doom, Fela Kuti, Ahmad Jamal, Sun Ra, Pauline Oliveros.
Your music has been labelled as “indie-pop” by some, but how would you describe your sound?
Slipp: Hm, labels, schmabels, but yeah sure – indie pop. We’re making pop music, and we’re independent artists. I guess it’s helpful to have a shorthand way of describing one’s music, so that one works fine. When my parents’ friends ask me what kind of music we make, that’s what I usually say, and it shuts them up pretty quickly.
Kamen-Green: When people ask me that, I ask them “well, what type of music do you like?” After they give their answer, no matter what they say, I tell them that it sounds like the music they just described.
Finally, what’s next for mmeadows?
Slipp: After the release of the final single, which will come out alongside a video of the live performed version, the first in a series of two EPS will come out Friday, December 13; The second EP will be released mid – 2020. And we’re about to go out on our first tour as mmeadows, including a few shows with our dear long-time friends Lake Street Dive.
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