How My Mother Raised Me

Mitski talks post-pubescent tightrope walking ahead of her show at Lido

Words By Maggie Devlin
Photos By Ebru Yildiz

Listening to Mitski is an intrusive exercise. Her openness and raw understanding of relationships – with all their insecurities, hurt, joy, and desperation – bleed through her lyrics and leave the listener nursing a bruised heart.

Puberty 2 cements the Japanese-born, New York-based artist’s place as one of the most captivating voices in rock right now, with masterful vocals and guitar so dirty you’ll want to run the bath for when you’re done. There’s no holding back. From death and orgasms in ‘I Bet On Losing Dogs’ to struggling to pay the rent in ‘My Body’s Made of Crushed Little Stars’, Mitski rages and mourns with an authentic passion that grips you by the shoulders and refuses to let go.

Catch Mitski at Lido and consider wearing protective gear – her voice will nail you to the back of the room.

You’re in Europe for the next couple of weeks. Does being on tour offer a different insight on what’s happening back in the States? Travelling is always the best way to see that there’s more than one way of doing things. When you’re in only one place for a long time, you start to believe that that one place is the whole world, and it becomes difficult to think outside the box when it comes to solving societal problems. Travelling to different countries and seeing how another world of people live opens your eyes to other real solutions to universal problems, or rather the real living results of other solutions that people came up with, that you may not have even thought possible if you stayed where you are.

What are you most looking forward to on the tour? I’m going to some places I used to live as a child, like Prague, so it will be good to see how they are now and compare them with my hazy memories.

The title of the album, Puberty 2, speaks of all the awkwardness and disconnectedness of a second coming of age. How much does separation – from peers, from yourself – feature in your songwriting? I think in order to be a writer you must walk a tightrope between being completely inside yourself and your feelings, and being objective enough about your own self to be able to describe them to other people. So yes, being apart from people and myself features in my writing, but I think perhaps that’s part of what writing is.

The album’s sound is very rich with plenty of texture and thoughtful arrangement. What’s your process of beginning an album from a recording point of view? I start with the vocal melody and lyrics – those are of the utmost importance. Then comes a bassline, then harmony, then instrumental arrangements and further details. But I always want to make sure that the main vocal melody can exist and make sense without accompaniment, as that’s what people sing to themselves when they’re alone in their room, or in the shower, or car. It’s important to me that the music can exist for people who are alone.

‘One morning this sadness will fossilise / And I will forget how to cry.’ How do you relate to sadness? How do you manage it? How do I manage sadness? The best I can, just like everyone else.

You did a great interview with feministing in which you talked about your mum, appearance, and body hair. Does it matter to you if people regard you as a feminist artist? The term ‘feminist’, or any academic language that accompanies it doesn’t matter to me as much, because I want all the things that those terms represent to be felt and understood through me, regardless of language or education. You don’t have to know the term ‘feminist’, but I hope by listening to my music, and perhaps finding that you relate to it, you understand that I am in fact the same human as you, in all your sadness and excitement and pain and happiness, and I hope that makes you more sympathetic to someone like me who is different from you.

We’re looking forward to seeing you rock out at Lido. What do you have in store for us? I guess you’ll have to find out.

Catch Mitski live at Lido on Tuesday February 28.