Q&A: Maryn Jones On Her New Solo Project Yowler + “Water” (Stereogum Premiere)
“Water” is the perfect opening track to The Offer, Yowler’s forthcoming debut tape. It sets the stage nicely for the esoteric, fantastical world that Maryn Jones has constructed as her solo project, something far removed from her work with All Dogs or Saintseneca. “Put the pieces in there, watch them disappear/ Worthless to be able, it is lost in the sound,” Jones sings, her voice sounding as though it’s bouncing off of stone walls in a dreary castle by the sea. “Extricate the battle by just saying nothing/ Got to be more careful of this Hell.” She makes personal battles sound epic in nature, quietly willing a delicate and inviting atmosphere into existence. Like “7 Towers” and “The Offer” before it, “Water” thrives in the silence, in the little pauses between breaths. We talked to Jones about how her new project came together — read the interview and listen to the new track below.
STEREOGUM: What made you decide to start Yowler as its own project?
MARYN JONES: It had been an idea that was cooking in my head for a while. A few years ago, I started having this idea of starting a solo project that wasn’t like my old solo stuff (under my name) but wasn’t like the more loud structured band stuff with All Dogs. I really wanted to experiment with where I could take songwriting. It took me a while to actually start writing songs though. For a couple years, all I had was the name, some drawings (which is kind of strange), and one song idea.
STEREOGUM: When did everything start to come together? Was there any reason for why the Yowler ideas started to coalesce?
JONES: Yeah, definitely. At one point, I wrote a couple more songs ’cause I missed writing really free-form songs with super personal lyrics. Then Saintseneca went on tour with LVL UP, and we became really good friends. They saw All Dogs play and Mike [Caridi] and Dave [Benton] from that band asked if their label, Double Double Whammy, could put something out for us. We already were pretty set on continuing to put stuff out on Salinas Records, but I basically just went for it and was like, “I have this other project I’m working on, could I send you some demos and would you consider that instead?” They listened and said yes. Then I spent a winter finishing the songs and recording them. It was a great incentive because I was really, really excited to be working with them.
STEREOGUM: So what was the concept behind the project? All of the songs seem like they’re part of the same puzzle. Like, what were those drawings that you had for a few years, and what did you envision for Yowler in particular?
JONES: I don’t know if it was a concept so much as a … hmmm … vibe? Feel? Mood? Haha, I dunno. Something like that. Just like, not gonna hold back on what I say. No matter how sad or dark or weird or out of place with what I usually make. And I wanted something a little more dreamy, something more like a photograph, if that makes sense. I haven’t made visual art in years, but wanted to have it be more like that. Not just songs, like an overall feeling. To be honest, the drawings were of weird dark figures? I don’t even know what I was doing. Sounds terrifying. I think at one point I had this crazy big concept of it also being a performance where I wore a dark costume or something. It obviously changed from that original idea.
STEREOGUM: Was there anything specific that inspired or influenced you while you were writing for the tape?
JONES: The earlier songs were just experiments with words, I think. I was inspired by people who can make poetry into songs. Or can just say whatever the fuck they want and make it sound beautiful. Later on, I wrote the quieter songs, and those were basically inspired by a few very, very sad moments in my life. And since I decided I wasn’t going to censor myself for this project, they ended up here. It worked though, I think. I will also say that there was a TV show that heavily influenced one of the songs, but I am not going to say which one. Maybe people can figure it out…
STEREOGUM: So let’s talk a little bit about “Water.” Was there any reasoning behind starting off the tape with this track in particular?
JONES: Not exactly at first, but now I’m really glad it starts the tape. I think it sort of lays out the tone and the theme of the release. Lyrically, it sort of covers a lot of the things I talk about in the rest of the songs. Also, imagery-wise, it is the idea behind the tape. It was one of the first songs I wrote for Yowler, I guess, and I liked the images I found in the song. And it inspired the rest of them, or most of the rest of them.
STEREOGUM: That makes sense — both your promo image and the artwork feature water. How did the visuals come together for the tape? Did you do them yourself?
JONES: Yes, I did. I am sort of a control freak when it comes to artwork, and since I wanted this to create a certain feeling, I had a very strong idea of how it was going to look from the time I knew I was going to be putting it out. I knew I wanted something with water, so I took a bunch of pictures when I was on a trip to the beach and they turned out exactly how I wanted. It was cool.
STEREOGUM: Do you think you’re going to do more Yowler stuff in the future, or is it more of a one-and-done kind of deal? Or do you not even know yet?
JONES: I feel like I’m definitely going to be doing more with this. I’ve always had some kind of solo project going on in the background, and since I kind of feel like I outgrew my old one a little bit, I’m hoping to have this as an outlet for writing songs amidst the sorta-chaos of being in two other bands. Especially with touring and all that stress and shit. It’s nice to have this as a place to put those feelings if I need to. And it’s so nice to just be able to be like, “I want to record this song so I’m going to, right now, in my room. Ok, done.” That’s really fun to me.
STEREOGUM: How are things going with All Dogs and Saintseneca? You were recording the All Dogs LP recently, right?
JONES: Everything’s good! Saintseneca is taking a breather because last year was insaaaane touring-wise, and things are feeling very fresh and exciting with All Dogs. We just finished tracking two days ago. The record is wild. I am so excited for people to hear it. Saintseneca is also recording in the coming months, and I cannot wait.
The Offer is out 3/10 via Double Double Whammy.