ABOVE: COLOR WAR. PHOTO COURTESY OF MACIEK JASIK
Color War, the Brooklyn electronic duo comprised of Justin “Billy J” Lin and singer Lindsay Mound, get why their moody brand of electronic music is often described as dark, but they don’t necessarily agree. “It’s not something you’re going to jump around to,” says Mound. “It’s going to bring you into yourself. I think people associate that with darkness because it’s reflective music and it sort of isolates you in a cool way and for some people that’s an antisocial, dark approach.” Lin adds: “It may also have something to do with the songs that have been heard [‘SOS’ and last summer’s ‘Obelisk’] so far. It’s just a portion of the record. The record as a whole is more of a complete universe than the songs that have been released.”
So, what’s the universe according to Color War like? It’s equal parts astrology, symbology, and philosophy; all set to shimmering synths and cascading vocals. Naturally, their latest single, “I Like It This Way,” which we’re pleased to premiere here, fits right in. Featuring layered synth riffs and Mound’s breathless harmonies, the track is about the gravitational pull of a bad relationship. It’s a theme that recurs throughout their debut LP, It Could Only Be This Way, though you shouldn’t be too hasty in assuming anything about the duo from their track’s serious content. Below, Interview catches up with the band for a surprisingly lighthearted discussion of star signs, rejected band names, and the mom appeal of their music.
ERIN BRADY: How did Color War get started?
LINDSAY MOUND: We met in 2004 vis-à-vis a series of MySpace correspondences.
JUSTIN LIN: This was back in the heyday or Wild West days of MySpace.
MOUND: This was like pre-heyday. This was, like, beta. I had 13 friends, and I didn’t know what it was for. This guy sends me this ridiculous message, and it was about everything that was in my profile, which was all jokes and lies.
LIN: We ended up hanging out once or twice and over the years we stayed in touch. I ended up being roommates with one of her friends, Cassidy.
MOUND: Drunkenly one night we were just messing around. Cassidy was on the drums and I was like, “I want to be in a band!” She brought this information to [Justin] and was like, “You should get Lindsay to be in a band with us.” So, we started practicing. We were terrible. I was terrible. We made songs like, “What Can You Get For 99 Cents?”
LIN: That’s a good one.
MOUND: It literally listed everything in a bodega or dollar store.
BRADY: So is that going to be on the Color War deep tracks album?
MOUND: There are some good deep tracks.
LIN: Actually, that band wasn’t called Color War.
BRADY: What was the original name?
LIN: That band was called Cock Block.
MOUND: We were called Cock Block because we would all hang out all the time—
LIN: —And unintentionally cock-block each other.
MOUND: Everyone thought, “Surely [Justin] must be the boyfriend of one of the ladies [he was] with.”
LIN: It’s a real problem in this neighborhood. Mixed group hanging.
MOUND: It led Justin to create T-shirts that said—
LIN: —”We’re not together.” They’re going to be big sellers in Williamsburg.
BRADY: How would you guys describe your music?
MOUND: It’s experimental, but it’s experimental in this way that’s maybe not traditionally used. Each song is kind of pushing around in there and seeing how far you can go with that and how uncomfortable you can make it while still drawing [listeners] in.
BRADY: The track that you guys are premiering on Interview is “I Like It This Way.” Give me some backstory on this.
MOUND: I wanted to take a sexy or racy approach to being in a hopeless, depressing relationship that has the same pitfalls over and over. There’s that little piece that keeps you there, that keeps you repeating those mistakes. It’s a song about indulging that.
LIN: It’s a cycle. If that’s what you know and what you’re used to, it’s easy to fall back into it over and over again. It’s a theme that appears on the record a couple of times through different eyes. Some of them could be conceptually based on people and their relationships or astrological events.
BRADY: What are your star signs?
LIN: I’m a Gemini.
MOUND: I’m a Scorpio. What are you?
MOUND: Love me some Taurus. [high-fives Brady]
LIN: Sorry, I’m an air sign.
BRADY: I noticed there was no hesitation in telling me your signs; is astrology something you guys are into?
MOUND: I really enjoy astrology. I got this app [Five Signs] on my phone recently where you can enter someone’s chart and it keeps it like a Rolodex. I have a phone book of people’s charts and you can compare people. We were out with our collaborator, Brandon Sciarrotta, and we were all passing the phone around.
LIN: Apparently Brandon is super compatible with Lindsay’s mom. He got five stars.
MOUND: Which is big. People love my mom. She’s the best.
LIN: Lindsay’s mom is a legend.
BRADY: How so?
MOUND: I think my mom is a legend in that she’s famously such an amazing mom and such an amazing lady. She’s not a lunch-packer or a cookies-after-school woman.
LIN: She’s just a real cool lady.
MOUND: Very smart, very caring, very good listener. She’s like a philosopher from another planet.
BRADY: How do your moms feel about you guys being in a band?
MOUND: They love it.
BRADY: Now that you guys aren’t Cock Block, of course.
MOUND: There’s something about our sound that’s really agreeable to moms, in a way that you wouldn’t predict.
LIN: Moms can dig it.
MOUND: My mom burns bootleg CDs for her mom friends. I go back home and I get in the car from the airport and she turns on the car and Color War’s playing.
LIN: My mom was really skeptical for a long time, but I think I convinced her.
MOUND: We’ll challenge all the moms. If you liked Annie Lennox or Sade—
LIN: It’s not too much of a leap.
BRADY: Were you guys listening to any of those when you were making the record?
MOUND: Not really.
LIN: There are a lot of influences. If I were to try to list them I would just keep going on forever. We’ll leave it up to the writers to figure that out. We’ve had some interesting comparisons.
BRADY: Like whom?
MOUND: PJ Harvey and New Order was one from our earlier shows. I was like, “What?”
BRADY: I read Stevie Nicks in one review for you, Lindsay.
MOUND: I’m not mad.
COLOR WAR’S DEBUT LP, IT COULD ONLY BE THIS WAY, IS OUT MARCH 4 VIA FOUR HORSEMEN OF THE APOCALYPSE. FOR MORE ON THE BAND, VISIT THE BAND’S WEBSITE.