Meet: Leeds witch-rock duo Faux Machismo, and listen to their new single ‘Artemisia’

We’ve long been in thrall of Leeds’ stoner-witch-doom-rock duo Faux Machismo (even the description makes us shiver with excitement), and they’re releasing their new single Artemisia today, February 5th, via Muzai Records.

The pair, singer/guitarist Maeve Munro and drummer Anna Ridley, have based their track on a painting from the early 1620s by Italian painter Armetisia Gentileschi – Judith Slaying Holofernes. Art historians believe that Judith was in fact a representation of Artemisia herself, and “Holofernes” a representation of her father’s colleague Agostino Tassi – who had raped his young student.

Faux Machismo very much live up to their description with Artemisia, with these boiling, edgy riffs and killer, driving drums wrapping themselves around Munro’s vocal, this coaxing, hypnotising thing. Half obscured, half floating amongst the surrounding noise, it definitely speaks to you.

But OH MY GOD it’s exciting.

We sought out Maeve from the band, and spoke to her about the band, lockdown, the track, and the future.

Hi Faux Machismo, firstly how are you. Weird times (still!) 

Hi Backseat Mafia! We are surviving –  really starting to miss socialising, playing shows and going anywhere that’s not the local shop.

Are you able to do anything creative in these times? Do you talk on zoom or phone or something?

We message almost every day. Occasionally I’ll get a new song idea and send it to Anna (Ridley, drummer/backing vocals) – I had plans to use this downtime to write and record but it’s really hard to find the motivation. 

You’re releasing ‘Artemisia’ today, there’s an interesting story behind that? Can you tell us more? 

Anna studied art history at university – Artemisia Gentileschi is one of her favourite artists. She mentioned this to me and I got a bit obsessed with the idea of Artemisia painting Judith Slaying Holofernes as a sort of artistic revenge on her abuser. 

Is art important to you in your creative process? Or, what was it about that piece specifically that attracted to you?

Lyrically I wanted to keep it very simple and repetitive. Sort of keeping with the urgency of the painting and the story behind it. It’s not so much describing a picture, word for word, more like picking up on the feelings I get as an observer, translating the colours and the intent into sounds. 

How do you write and record. Is it a spontaneous thing or very planned out. Or does it depend?

We generally write together in at our rehearsal space; it’s not very planned out at all. Sometimes it’s a rhythm or a guitar bit, and the song evolves from there. We both find if we try and force a song, it doesn’t work as well and there needs to be an organic evolution.

We recorded these few singles with Chris Mulligan at Chapel Works in Leeds – we had an idea of the songs we wanted to record and smashed them out in a few sessions. 

Does releasing music in these strange times feel different, or weird? Or is it just a case of writing, recording, releasing whatever?

It feels very strange! Originally we were planning on releasing an EP midway through last year but we decided a few singles would be the way since we can’t actually play shows at the moment. No need for physical products to sell at shows if there are no shows. 

What’s next for Faux Machismo? Is there an album on the horizon?

Next up will definitely be an album. Obviously, we’ve lost a year and we cannot wait to get back to writing and practising. There’s a lot of rage that needs to be channelled and released. 

I think we both would just like to be able to play live again, whatever socially distanced form that may take. 

What’s rocking your stereo / headphones right now?

I’ve been listening to a lot of ‘happy place’ music; Abba, David Bowie, Love & lots of field recordings of rain. 

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