I connect with Mourn’s Jazz Rodríguez Bueno over Skype in Cambrils, Catalonia, a town near Barcelona. Rodríguez Bueno had just gotten home from studying, and our conversation takes place in her bedroom. Overlooked by posters of Kurt Cobain and Elliot Smith, we discuss the timeline of Mourn’s new release Ha, Ha, He., two-faced people, and creating music in joy.
Mourn is Rodríguez Bueno (vocals, guitar), Carla Pérez Vas (vocals, guitar), Antonio Postius (drums), and Leia Rodríguez (bass). Ha, Ha, He. is released on Captured Tracks June 3.
NT: Your self-titled first album came out in 2014. What have you been doing since then?
JRB: Playing a lot. We’ve spent a lot of time rehearsing together. We started to study new things, too. Antonio is studying sound. I am studying audio visuals. Carla is already working — she’s in that other world now. And yeah, [Leia] is studying acting in high school. That’s what we’ve been doing, and writing new songs.
NT: Have you been writing songs during that whole time, or have there been specific creative bursts during that time?
JRB: We had a period where we didn’t write anything, and that was when we were playing almost every weekend. But we started writing more and more in 2015, which led to this new album.
NT: It is interesting that you are studying audio visuals. Mourn started on YouTube, which as a platform started more visual and is now very important for music sharing. Is that still your preferred platform?
JRB: We used YouTube because we didn’t have anything recorded, so we would post videos of us playing. When we got recordings we started using Bandcamp and Soundcloud. I think we use YouTube more for showing videos of us doing stupid things now, and just having fun.
NT: It’s nice that you have determined the focus of your career while you’re still in school, and you can tailor your studies to your interests.
JRB: Last year I didn’t even know what I wanted to do. But while touring, I was having fun making and editing videos and I thought, ‘I should do more of this.’
NT: Where have you toured?
JRB: We’ve toured Europe. Not as many places in Catalonia or Spain — we’ve played more outside the country … We toured the United States last summer.
NT: You recorded your first album before having the experience of touring. Some bands find touring really inspiring, but others find it creatively exhausting. What is your impression?
JRB: I feel more inspired touring. The thing is, we’ve learned a lot touring. We’ve improved our skills.
NT: You have listed influences like Patti Smith or PJ Harvey, both of whom have exceptional live performances but very different styles. I wonder if there is a particular performer you model your live set after?
JRB: We are used to being ourselves. We just wear normal clothes. Whatever we’ve got on, we’ll play in. When we played Primavera Sound we wanted something special, so we decided to wear suits. We were very classy and cool. That was the only time we’ve done something different while playing, but maybe we should do more of that. That’s something we have to think about.
NT: William Blake is another one of your influences, and his poem “Laughing Song” has inspired the title of Ha, Ha, He.. His writing plays with dichotomies like light versus dark, good versus evil, nature versus industry. I notice that your music also has a softness and darkness to it. There are songs about people being two-faced, especially in your earlier songs. Is that something you consciously write into you music?
JRB: I think everyone as two or more faces. We didn’t have this idea of writing about people with two faces, but it came intuitively. No person is a single way. Also, about the reference to “Laughing Song,” I want to say that I think that song is about joy, hope and laughing. I think that’s what [Mourn] needs to create, and keep creating. It’s true that we write when we’re angry, but when we’re together we need to connect through joy to put songs together.
NT: The album titles on your first release seemed to reference fierce people, whereas the titles off Ha, Ha, He. are a little more abstract. How are the themes different between the albums?
JRB: The first album we recorded when we were 17, so we had a need to get all these feelings out. We wanted to make songs to reflect that need to explain things the way they are for us. The songs were more direct … [In Ha, Ha, He.] we are writing more lyrics like poems.
NT: I read that “Second Sage” is based off Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. How often do you play video games?
JRB: I play in the summer because during the school year it’s difficult to find the time. But when summer comes, I start playing. It is a relaxing time for me.
NT: What would you like people to understand about Ha, Ha, He.?
JRB: It is a diary. It is a diary of our last year.
TOP 5 ESSENTIAL ALBUMS:
Sunny Day Real Estate — How It Feels To Be Something On
Throwing Muses — Limbo
Unfinished Sympathy — Unfinished Sympathy
Big Star — Radio City
Deus — Worst Case Scenario
Interview by Brit Bachmann.