Mothé Explores Pain and Healing in Debut Album 'I Don't Want You To Worry Anymore' [Q&A]
Photo: Victor Grossling
Indie alternative artist Mothé, born Spencer Fort, has finally released their long-awaited debut album, I Don’t Want You To Worry Anymore. The 12-track body of work explores hurt, healing, and moving toward the future, all wrapped in eclectic and engaging soundscapes that provoke a deep range of emotions.
I Don’t Want You To Worry Anymore not only demonstrates Mothé’s remarkable ability to create and produce music that sounds exactly how it feels, alongside collaborative producer Robert Adam Stevenson. The attention to detail to each track’s intricate, evolving sounds shows meticulous care and passion that marks the beginning of something bigger ahead for the up-and-coming musician. I Don’t Want You To Worry Anymore opens with indie-rock jam “Dancing On An Empty Floor” before catapulting listeners down a rabbit hole full of sonic and emotional ups and downs.
Ones To Watch was able to talk with Mothé about their debut album, their experiences with challenging shoots, and what they hope to create in the future.
Ones To Watch: Before forming Mothé, you were a part of a project called Moth Wings. When did you begin your journey as a solo artist, and how did that lead to where you are now?
Mothé: Moth Wings was a two-piece band that I was in with my friend Luke for probably five or six years. It was a house show band. It was as DIY as they come, and we were going on tours all the time playing to 20 people, you know, that sort of touring in the minivan grind. So when I moved out to Los Angeles, I was going into these sessions, and I was writing songs that I felt were maybe a little more developed for rooms outside of the house show scene because the whole thing with Moth Wings is that we were a two-piece and we were just loud as fuck, and that was kind of the vibe. And then it was like, oh, I’m writing music that I could see on a different stage for the first time. It kind of like left me asking myself, "Is this a developmental extension of Moth Wings? What’s going on?" Then at some point, the drummer told me that he didn’t want to do music for a living, and once we split ways, it made a lot of sense for me to kind of just adapt the name that I’d already been using to grow everything, but say like, this is the start of a new thing. The old songs will stay up, but I’m not going to go back to them. And now I was working and writing more as a solo artist, and then it was time to maybe give myself a name that I could really take as a name. Like people can call me Mothé, they can’t necessarily call me Moth Wings.
Right, so you developed this new artistic character that feels completely separate from anything you’ve previously done.
Yeah. She’s a lot more confident than me. It’s kind of this fun moment where I get to be the person I maybe don’t feel confident enough to be in my daily life. I didn’t have that until it was a character I could truly slip into, and it turns out it’s just me. It’s like I’m having more fun than I am when I’m just Spencer.
Did you realize that you were creating an album?
I love that question; nobody’s ever asked me that. This was not a planned album. I did not go into it thinking I should be making an album. It started when I was making an EP, and this was going to be my second EP. I had played the EP game for a bit, and I had this one song on it that felt like an album closer. Then I started looking around, and I was like, “I have eight songs I want to put on this.” I was working with Robert Stevenson and we both kind of at the same time were like, “I think this is a record.” Some of these songs needed to be padded with a little more context for them to really land in the ways they’re supposed to. That was when we added the last songs like “Debt Collector,” “Dancing On An Empty Floor,” and these more dancey songs that really push it into the album territory. I had all these more thinky songs that I was having a hard time packaging into a presentable format, and that was when it was like, “Hey, I think we’re making an album.” And then we decided it was an album, and then we went out to Sonic Ranch and recorded it in like six days. It was super, super intense. So yeah, no, we didn’t know we were making an album, but it felt really natural and right, and kind of felt like the time to make one and interact with a longer form.
What do you feel is the story of this album?
I think the album honestly has a lot to do with this constant state of doom that we are experiencing. A lot of it was written during the pandemic. I was freaking out. The whole album was just a process of finding like, “Hey, there’s impending doom, and there has been impending doom always, and it will always continue to be impending doom." So the idea eventually became to take this light-hearted approach to the state of the world where it was like, "It’s coming for you, and so what? What are you gonna do about it? You can’t do anything about it.”
Accept there’s nothing you can do.
Yeah, so in the spirit of that, that’s why it’s called I Don’t Want You To Worry Anymore, which is a serious statement, but it’s just kind of true. It’s meant to be a blanket. Like, hey, all this stuff. It’s like, “Hey, all this stuff. You can’t change it.”
One of my favorite tracks on this album is “Leave A Little Later.” I especially loved the more sound collage, abstract moments in that song and in the overall body of work. What were some of your favorite music moments from the record?
It’s those moments for me too. Honestly, if I was not worried about anything and was living off the land and everything was taken care of, you know, I might fuck around and make ambient music and just never write a song ever because I love textures. I love sounds and textures so much. So “Leave A Little Later,” I have to agree. It’s one of my favorite songs on the record. I’m so prepared for people to not like that one and be like, “What is this???” But that song was so fun to make, and I remember the first time that we had the synths drop down past where they could go, and I was like, “This is so fun!” I also loved making “Isaac,” because it was like, "How do we take these abstract sounds and package them into this digestible format." It’s such a puzzle to be like, “I like this texture; how do you make that a song?” So those moments are definitely my favorite moments on the record, as well as “Everyone Has Everything.” I also like the saxophone pad in “Concrete Smile.” That was something we added kind of at the end. I was getting to do these really kind of dense, noisy saxophone arrangements and use the saxophone in a way that isn’t just like an '80s inspired saxophone solo. I got to use it like an organ, which was really exciting, and I think that’s a really special moment on the album for me.
Breaking down the preconceived notions of what a sax can do!
Yeah! It’s too beautiful an instrument to only be doing solos and weird cheesy songs, you know?
What sonic texture do you feel is vastly underutilized or underappreciated in ambient music or in general?
I tend to like harsher sounds lately. Specifically, I, at the moment, have been enjoying taking two oscillators and putting them against each other and just out of sync so that they are constantly fighting for the same space. It sounds like this [makes crashing sounds] distortion that’s really specific, and I’ve been really, really enjoying that. I got a little tape machine that I’ve just been putting way past the peak limit so that everything comes in like [makes warped sounds] kind of vibe. I’m just having fun cause I’m in between albums right now. I can do anything, so I’m just experimenting. I’ve been making these harsh sounds, because it’s just feeling good to be really loud. I did the beautiful ambient album. The next one, I am assuming, will just have a lot of like [makes crashing sounds].
What song are you most excited for people to listen to that hasn’t been released yet?
I’m really excited for people to hear “Isaac.” I felt like maybe, you know, there’s a reason I put it so early in the record. You open with this kind of dancey song, and you’re like, “This is an indie record! Whoa, cool!” And then it’s like, and we’re gonna go here. It’s jarring, and it’s maybe designed to not work. Who knows?
Only one way to find out.
Yeah, but I’m excited for people to hear that song especially. With the singles that we’ve put out, I think we’ve intentionally been reaching people who liked this one specific genre quite a bit and maybe haven’t checked out a lot of ambient music. So I really like the idea of being a gateway for some people cause all the singles have been very indie rock, and it’s an indie rock album, but then I’m just happy to send some curveballs in there for them. So hopefully, people are like, “What is this? Where does this come from?” and they sort of go down the rabbit hole I did whenever I got into alternative music and subgenres and just weird stuff.
Out of all of the released music videos, which one is your favorite?
I think that was pretty fun to make. I actually quite enjoyed doing “Terrified” because I enjoyed the process of shooting that, which was basically just doing a bunch of one-take contemporary dance pieces in a sort of high fashion gown. That felt very in tune with who I am. I loved shooting “Debt Collector” because it was so funny. It was so funny because my younger brother was the actor in that, and so he was shoving me in a trunk and slamming the trunk door on me or whatever, and I was like, “This is so ridiculous.” We’re doing a lot of this stuff, DIY and low budget, so we don’t have a lot of damage control. He just has a real knife. Like he was shoving a real knife in front of my throat, and I’m like, “I trust you so much. My younger brother, please do not stab me in the neck,” and so for that reason, I kind of found that one fun cause it was like my younger brother’s finally kicking my ass.
What were the more challenging aspects of doing the shoots, other than almost being stabbed by your brother?
I think that shoots are just always hard. I don’t envy people who do that full-time. The people who experience 12 hour days most of the time are sometimes outdoors for 12 hours, sometimes they’re indoors for 12 hours, and you don’t see the sun, and there are all these random hiccups. There’s a part in “Terrified” that did end up getting cut. We were supposed to be doing an underwater scuba scene in a pool, but the pool was so cold that I couldn’t get oxygen to my lungs and stuff. It just puts you in really bizarre situations. So I was strapped down to this brick, being held down by chains in the scene with scuba equipment floating in this giant dress and freaking out. I was like, “I’m too anxious. It’s too cold to breathe. I’m so scared right now, even though I realistically have oxygen,” which was incredibly challenging. I’m hesitant to say it, but I don’t even know if I enjoy making music videos.
I know that you just announced that you will be joining The Wrecks on tour this summer starting in June. If you could perform anywhere tomorrow, where would you go?
Probably somewhere crazy, honestly.
Yeah! Just do the premature Antarctica show. [laughs] What I would actually do is I want to play whatever 200 cap room has the best sound in America. There’s something about the super tight show where everyone’s sweaty and flailing around yelling into the mic thing that I have not gotten to do in years, and I miss it so much. I want to play in punk venues. I definitely still need a moment of yelling, sweating, and being crammed into a tight room. I don’t have a specific venue name for that or a good city. It’s just whatever I can do to get that moment back in my life.
Mothé's I Don't Want You To Worry Anymore is available everywhere you can stream it.