words by trevor elkin
photo by Jesse DeFlorio
Winnipeg’s Mise en Scene shine with the same no-nonsense independent musical spirit of the 90’s, of bands like Throwing Muses, Madder Rose or Drugstore, when guitars were somehow crunchier and kick drums punched a little harder. ‘Waster’, streaming below, is the band’s latest reveal from second album ‘Still Life On Fire’, just around the corner. Full of sardonic froth and energetic vitriol, ‘Waster’ is cathartic but also one of the best ‘fuck you’ mixtape tracks you’d not want to be on the receiving end of.
Mise En Scene’s core duo of Stefanie Blondal Johnson and Jodi Dunlop almost broke the fourth wall (pun intended) with their 2012 debut album, ‘Desire’s Despair’, soon finding themselves touring different states, countries and festivals, propelled on by the positive hot takes. But there’s nothing like having to play the same songs over and over to hold back the creativity new songs need in order to get a grip on the world.
To get over the hump, Johnson took herself away to a musicians residency in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. “I had to get over writer’s block because we had been touring so much,” she says. “I just wasn’t able to write and we were experiencing so many different countries and major cities all over the world. Our music was taking us all over the place, so we were kind of overwhelmed with everything. I needed to go lock myself away in the mountains and empty out my head.”
You hear that outpouring here in every gritted-teeth vocal line and with every whoop and cry. There’s a lot more to come with the new album which promises a bigger sound with more guitars, and the addition of new permanent bassist Cory Hykawy. While the aim is to stay true to the original duo’s garage band ethos, “it’s still evolving” Johnson says, “but I think it’s really indicative of where we are and where we’re going.”
‘Still Life On Fire’ is released 30th June, via Light Organ Records & Membran (UK)