LP Walkthrough: Warpaint - Radiate Like This
A different release from the quartet, in the best possible way - here’s how Warpaint didn’t let restrictions and distance come between them and their latest album.
Photo by Mia Kirby
A couple months ago we heard word of a new Warpaint LP in the mix, as the group released their first taste of a new era with the track Stevie. Fast forward to May, and the album is here in all its glory - and it’s a wholly different album from the group from the debut EP Exquisite Corpse, 2010’s The Fool, 2014’s Warpaint and 2016’s Heads Up, in the best possible way.
Due to the nature of the last couple of years (covid) and the group being physically distanced, Radiate Like This takes shape from each musician individually recording their parts in makeshift home studios, before sending them on to the other band members. Each of the 10 tracks on the LP were crafted layer by intricate layer, which has yielded a more refined and sharper sounding record overall in comparison to the groups previous releases. Emily Kokal, one-fourth of Warpaint elaborating that “Radiate Like This captures what’s always been the magic of Warpaint—the delicate interplay of four separate parts coalescing in motion—while somehow allowing each individual to shine a little brighter.”
To celebrate the release of Radiate Like This, we wanted to get a deeper understanding on what went into the release track by track - so we did just that. Guided by the lovely Theresa Wayman of Warpaint, be sure to give the LP walkthrough a read as you hit play on Radiate Like This below.
I started this in my room at my house in El Sereno. I actually sampled a Warpaint song - The Stall - and that’s what started the whole thing. Then made the beat. I use logic and a program called geist to make beats… We went to Stella’s house/studio out in Joshua Tree to do some preproduction and I showed the girls my demo. We put it on and Stella started playing along with it…really brought it to life to have her layers over it. And then Jen wrote the acoustic guitar... This was one of the first songs we made for the album.
This one was started by Em. We also worked on this in that first desert session. I wrote that guitar line in the verses really quickly..felt like I was channelling something..that can sound cliche but it’s not always like that! I really felt it with this one. In fact, everything about this song came together like that. Em’s vocals, that middle bridge section, all of it! I’m in love with this one!
Hard To Tell you
Em wrote this song on guitar originally. We recorded a version like that at an early recording session in Joshua tree at Rancho De La Luna. It had a much longer arrangement... We then re-imagined it with synths..leaned into an 80s synth ballad feel. This one also came together quickly. I had a lot of fun weaving guitar lines around the vocals in the verses... We did a lot of pre-production on this one at our rehearsal space downtown before we ever went to the studio.
A love song that was originally written by Emily. She started during the heads up album but it didn’t make it on there. She would play the chords during soundchecks from time to time and we’d all start playing along. Always found the progression very alluring.
There was a little demo chasing with this one because the beat Stella did when we first started demoing just had this perfect feel that was hard to recreate. We got it in the end but re-recorded it 3 times in 3 different studios.
I started this one on piano. Stella and I were working at our rehearsal space downtown, doing a lot of demoing and trying to find out where this album wanted to go. We did a few different demos of this one on piano and then moved it over to the prophet. The initial beat she played on this one was really laid back, a lot of ride. We changed it when we got to the studio… was too similar to another track so we had to dig for something else. Nice where it ended up. It’s a song about self-love.
A piano song that em wrote a while ago… finally came together after a couple of different versions. We all played this in our rehearsal space and figured out the arrangement. Played our parts and fell into the song really easily. One of the only ones we recorded together as a band at the same time. Did it at the studio in highland park, 64 Sound. We tried to get the piano at the desert studio but that didn’t work out. And then we still didn’t have the right piano take. Emily re-did it and finally got it at a studio in Portland, Oregon during the pandemic. Also, love the harmonies on this one. We did a lot of work on honing those during the pandemic.
Love the harms on this one. And all the little sonic gems... Stella, Emily and I did a lot of work on this one at the rehearsal space downtown…throwing paint at the wall with my prophet 12 and piano and guitar. And then we arranged them all into the song and that generally helped structure the song. The proof is in the pudding melody was a funny little thing my brother Ivan (he worked with us on ‘Head’s Up’) and Emily made up during a party, years ago. Em realized that this was finally its moment to make it to actual song status! Love it.
Also from the very first batch of songs that were sprinkled with love during the Stella desert studio session. I wrote this song around the time I started champion. The drums, em guitars in the chorus and the bass was added right away. The structure was still very long when we went into the studio. We added more parts but it wasn't until our remote arranging sessions during the pandemic that we really trimmed it up. I went out to Emily's house a couple of times during the pandemic and we added more guitar to a few songs. The ending em guitar part that really changes the tone of the song in such an interesting way, came from one of these sessions.
The only song on the album that came from a jam, written in true warpaint fashion. It was arranged and written by all of us in the room together. We wrote and recorded this one a year before we did any of the other ones. Did a version with producer Jon Congleton in a studio in LA. I loved that recording but it was also such early days that we needed to breathe different life into it and make it match our other songs a bit more. Em, and I added more guitars during the pandemic at one of our home desert recording sessions.
This one was written during the pandemic. I went on a camping trip with my family and this was written around a campfire. Initially called camping song. Inspired by Erykah Badu and her song, Phone Down. The incredible effective simplicity of that song is addictive. So I approached from that angle. What was initially “send a cup of noodles” quickly became “send a couple nudes”.. Took it out of the PG zone once the kids went to bed ;). Stella did her drums in a studio in Melbourne. One of those back and forth file sharing songs. Not ideal but doable. At least I got to be in person with Jen to get the bass.