Washington Duo MALL DAZE Open Up Working Together, Their Debut Album, ‘Ash House’ and More!
On October 16th, Mall Daze released their debut album, “Ash House” via Typhone Records. Their single, Ten Favorites, off this new collection is a moody, minimalist black and white piece highlighting the raw sound of first-take vocals, a heapin’ helping of reverb, and that euphoric feeling of a late night/early morning drive home. The video for the track was filmed in Spokane by Ira Dern (Rose Throw; Darien Mack).
Check out the video here for Ten Favorites:
Mall Daze is the solo project turned duo of Tyrell Tompkins and Kipp Riley, the founding lyricist and the drummer of the Alaskan indie-pop wizards, Lavoy. As a blatant sound departure from the still active 4-piece, Mall Daze pits an indie cynicism against the backdrop of a lighter mutt-wave or darker dream-pop fragility. Vocal first-takes dripping with reverb and chorus pedals pouring over bass and guitar, the raw presence and quieted indie-rock tinged two-some make for night drives melting into sunrises as right for the moment as memories of pre-Covid gatherings with long-time friends.
Learn more about Mall Daze in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! So how are you keeping busy and musical these days during the pandemic? How are you both staying connected to your fans? Are you finding that social media is even more useful now?
I really haven’t stopped writing songs other than a short stint to move from my old house to a new one. It’s sort of a good time to be a songwriter and be able to record songs in your basement as far as creativity goes. I do think social media will always be a place to connect with fans, but I’m a bit bored with it and feel like all the platforms are becoming tired and over used, so I guess I may be using it less and less as time goes on. I have these ideas of connecting with fans in different and new ways and to leave the screens to the birds… I feel like there’s ideas out there are yet to be uncovered and I’d love to have actual connections with people, as it can be lonely out there.
Can you recall the moment when you thought this duo could work? How did you come up with your band name? Why do you think you two work so well together?
I never even considered the duo wouldn’t work, Kipp was involved with the project from the start because I asked him to mix the album, so I was showing him the recordings and he was into the sounds for sure. It just sort of evolved into him playing the drums too because the vintage drum machine I bought wasn’t really cutting it and I needed real drums. Then it basically morphed into it just being a duo. I just asked him if he wanted to be a bigger part of it, but it was completely natural and low key for him to slide into that spot. Kipp and I work so well together because we’re such good friends and we’re always into the same bands and sort of think similarly. We talk about everything and know each other so we’ll that communication is easy and I think all those things just add to creative energy and chemistry in music.
What do you think motivates you day in and day out? How has that drive changed since you first starting making music?
Day in, day out is all about being creative and pushing out new music as quickly as possible. I believe artists have a built in need to create and that is all that satisfies that hunger. I think it’s changed for me because It used to be that people would say that they wanted to wait until something was so refined before they released something out into the world, but that means the feeling has passed for the artist. So my perspective has changed and I think that art should be more of the moment and therefore the quicker it’s released the quicker I can be on to creating the next current inspiration.
How do you think your hometown has influenced the kind of music that you make? If not, why is that?
I can’t be sure… I don’t think you really can chase back the muses path to your hometown precisely and I think that’s what makes it so interesting to find out where people come from… why is it that this thing or that influenced someone is a mystery. Alaska has a dark underbelly and I think the midnight sun and the dark nights add to the lore of such a place, but that’s just the view and the weather. It’s beautiful for sure and I’m glad to be from there and also glad to be in Washington now.
What has been the biggest surprise so far about making music your career? What has been an unexpected or welcome challenge to it all? Is there anything you wish you could go back and tell your younger selves about this industry?
The biggest surprise has been how challenging it is to make music your career… I work a full time job on top of making music and touring. There’s very few people that can not work at all and only do music and many times that just means that they made music into a job to some degree. I lived as a full time musician at one point, but I feel there’s a creative space that’s accessed when you are living a regular life and working a regular job and making music when time allows and is able to be squeezed out of a busy life. It’s a means to dedicate what is crucial to the art. It’s fulfilling the need to create as a desire and not a means of monetary requirement. That’s just my perspective though, I know others make due as full time artists and seems to put out quality material pretty regularly.
A challenge I’ve faced that I felt like was pretty heart breaking was a manager I had awhile back who stole a bunch of money to feed his drug habit. That one hurts because of the broken trust, but more than that it was hard to see him sort of fall from grace. I’ve self-managed since then and it would be hard to go back to trusting someone so heavily.
If I was to go back and tell my younger self something of value, I think it would just be to keep creating and make sure to finish every song. No matter how bad, it doesn’t mean you have to release the material, just learn to finish. I know too many far more talented people than I who have great songs they’ve never finished and I feel like finishing is a learned and most valuable skill.
Let’s talk about your newly released debut album, “Ash House.” What was it like making this collection during this crazy year? Did anything surprise you about the overall process?
It was really a breeze making this album because I’d come from being in a band and a sort of democracy to some degree, just kind of waiting and leaning on others for parts to be written and recorded and sending ideas back and forth and this process was so much more fluid for me, where I’d just get in a mode and couldn’t stop writing. I love both methods of making music as one is much more lonely and the other is communal with the other band members. I think both ways are valuable, but the lonely way was capitalizing for me for this record after coming out of long writing sessions in the studio with the band. It was very surprising to me that all these songs came together for me on my own. I think doubt sort of slipped into the mix after being in the band setting for so long where I wasn’t sure I could write songs on my own anymore. I used to write lots of songs and play and perform them on my own and also write all the songs in some band settings, but once we started the democratic style of writing in the band I sort of got lazy and would only write ideas instead of full songs. Again, both ways of writing are valuable, just depends on what situation and what project you’re working on.
Can you pick a few of your favorite songs on this album and talk about how they were written and then got to be on “Ash House”? What inspired them exactly?
My favorite songs off of the album are probably Pelican Priest and Caterpillar. I’ll tell you that I don’t believe in inspiration in the classic sense, I just don’t think I need something to spur me into writing because I am just a writer and musician and that’s just what I do. However, with both of these songs I felt the need to let the songs go in the direction they were heading and make sure that I don’t get in the way. Both songs start with bass and I’m not typically a bass player, I just picked one up one day for maybe $125 I think and started seeing what happened. I’m not a guitar player either, but I’ve always liked bassists that play bass like guitar players and both bass lines follow that map. Very straight forward and repeating. The guitar just slinks over the bass and the keys are just peppered in for texture. The lyrical content is on the spot. I have a note book and I listen to the music and just write whatever fits even if it doesn’t make sense at first and it usually builds a story after all is said and done. The drums replace whatever digital drums I stack in just for feel and the song is basically complete. This is a method that works for me however elementary it may sound. I love writing this way and will most likely settle into this habit and never change a thing.
What musicians would you absolutely love to work with in the future? Who has consistently been inspiring you and the music that you make?
I’d love to work w/ Jason Martin (Starflyer 59) Casey Bates (Portugal The Man) Tony Hoffer (Beck, Depeche Mode, M83) Matt Hopper (Matt Hopper, Matt Hopper and the Roman Candles) and Kevin Shields (My Bloody Valentine) I’ve worked with the first three and I’d gladly do it again… I think when it comes to creative work it’s always best to work with friends and I just think Kevin Shields is a guy who could inspire some rad and beautiful chaos, so I think that would be appropriate. As far as inspirational over the years… HERS is my big one… so sad to hear they passed and they are a constant in my headphones and stereo. Joy Division, The Cure, Quayle, Julian Blair, New Order and some eras of The Smashing Pumpkins.
At the end of the day, what do you hope people take away from your music?
I’m not sure I expect anyone to take anything in particular away from this. I don’t want to go out and be pushing some message with this music, I feel like easy and straight forward is the mode here and hopefully when the album is through, they’ll feel like they want to hear it again. Overall I’m hoping this music is like Miles Davis for punks and goths.