Hope Sandoval is easy to talk to if you understand her. She and her bandmate Colm Ó Cíosóig (My Bloody Valentine) are patient with one another and have a simple and trusting chemistry. The Mazzy Star frontwoman and solo artist is soft-spoken and articulate about the little nuances of her world: the quirks of the Bay Area, Ireland, songwriting, the golden age of ’70s music and growing up in East L.A.
Hope Sandoval & the Warm Inventions are releasing their third full-length studio album, Until the Hunter, on Nov. 4. Like all of Sandoval's work, it's hazy, subtle, confident and extremely thoughtful. I spoke with Sandoval and Ó Cíosóig via conference call while she was in California and he was in Ireland.
You recently dropped a duet with Kurt Vile, “Let Me Get There,” as a single from your upcoming album. How did you meet Kurt and how did you get him to sing on the album?
Hope Sandoval: We got into Kurt Vile about three years ago. We were at a drum shop in Dublin and they were playing one of his records and it was amazing. … That’s how we discovered him. We thought it would be a good idea to have him sing on the track. Our manager got in touch with him and he was totally into it. It just so happened that he was in town to play a show, so within a week he came over and played on the track.
Did you write all the lyrics to “Let Me Get There?”
H.S.: Well, we sent him the lyrics, which was a little weird because it is a love song, but he showed up and he did his part and I did my part. Two total strangers.
Are you often into collaborations with other artists, or do you and Colm stay at the core of the songwriting and arranging?
Colm Ó Cíosóig: We had quite a few collaborations on the record. The band we [mainly] work with is an Irish band called Dirt Blue Gene. They played on our last album and we get on really well — they toured with us — so we brought them in again.
Is there a core theme behind Until the Hunter? What was the inspiration behind the album?
C.O.: A lot of it was recorded in Ireland in these towers. The towers are hundreds of years old and were built to defend Ireland against Napoleon. We had a great time. We could make as much noise as we wanted and didn’t have to worry about the neighbors. The room had really natural sound, a really nice controlled reverb.
You two live in different parts of the world, Colm in Ireland and Hope on the West Coast of the United States. How do you two manage making music together?
H.S.: We all just go back and forth. The boys come here, sometimes we go there. Right now, I am in California and Colm is Ireland.
You both have been making music for over 20 years. Have the times changed your process, as technology and the way music is listened to and processed evolves?
H.S.: Not really. [Laughs] I suppose we do live a pretty isolated life. We show up every four years and [make a record].
Do you work to attract younger fans? Have you noticed your audience changing?
H.S.: We just allow anybody to listen to our music. All ages are allowed!
C.O.: Seniors especially.
If someone walked up to you and said, “You can never do music again,” what would you do?
C.O.: I would get into gardening.
H.S.: What kind of gardening, Colm? [Laughs]
Hope, you’re from Los Angeles, right? What music influenced you when you were growing up?
H.S.: Yes, I’m from East L.A.. My family is still in Los Angeles. We listened to all sorts of music: Mexican music, oldies, soul, disco and rock & roll. I was surrounded by music.
Has there been anything really out there or different that has peaked your interest musically?
C.O.: We were very impressed by this street artist named Michael Masley who is really amazing. He reinvents how to play instruments like dulcimers and autoharps and makes this strange, ethereal music.
H.S.: He plays on this record and brought a lot of strange, really haunting sounds to the album. He plays every weekend on the street near the BART station in Berkeley. He’s really amazing. His music is stunning.
Hope Sandoval & the Warm Inventions' Until the Hunter is out now on Tendril Tales. More info at hopesandoval.com.