On the very eve of Valentine’s Day, on his mum’s Birthday no less, Matt of TWJ had the distinct opportunity to sit down and talk with Maia Macdonald and Joanna Katcher of multi-state based Mitten. After the chat, Matt walked away feeling that a good portion of our federal budget should go towards supporting new artists that have wonderful sounds to share. Truthfully, couldn’t most of the world’s problems be solved by music? Skim the conversation to find out how Mitten met, what their song crafting process is based upon, and just how far they’re willing to go, in order to wear headbands and thigh-highs. Extravagant excuses for a brilliant fashion ensemble. Catch a review of their brand new EP, See You Bye here, and take a bit of time to meet a wonderful pair of women who just happen to make wonderful music.
The Wounded Jukebox: bows
Hellow and welcome
Joanna: I think Matt is showing off that he knows how to make things bold
TWJ: I make bold statements
TWJ: excellent! Well this is my 1st q&a via gchat, so this is neat
Maia: where are you? in the world?
Joanna: ours too!
Maia: NOT MINE I DO THIS EVERY DAY
TWJ: I am near Cincinnati Ohio, in a zip up pull over with stripes on it, sipping ice-less water
That is exactly what Maia is wearing.
TWJ: what’s your current environment?
Joanna: And exactly what I’m drinking.
Joanna: I am currently in Queens, NY reporting live from Fresh Meadows.
Maia: at this moment I’m in somerville massachusetts cooking dinner listening to 90s rock on the radio and waiting for the grammys
Joanna: Oh! I am listening to Peter, Bjorn & John. THANKS PANDORA.
Maia: f*#k pandora would be better than this station
TWJ: Ok 1st official question: How were your days today?
Joanna: a sheer delight, started off with some brunch in Brooklyn, 3 cups of decaf, and what I thought would be a quick ride to target which was then overshadowed with a potentially faulty car battery, honking unsympathetic New Yorkers and a douchey traffic cop.
Maia: i spent all of yesterday moving apartments so today was a sore sunday laundry style day. i got up too early, made sourdough pancakes, watched a lot of trashy tv and did laundry. it was one of those
Joanna: (s&*t I forgot to watch trashy tv today, I can do that at work tomorrow.)
TWJ: i’m glad I got you in the throws of various emotions, makes for a much better slew of answers
and Thankyou very much for taking the time, once again, you are very generous
could you tell me a bit about you met?
could you sense each other in the room beforehand?
Joanna: Ha! Yes, we can definitely tell you about how we met…
Joanna: I had applied for the job of program director at BreakThruRadio which I was promptly denied (which is shocking since I had no experience as a program director before). But they asked me to come in for an interview about doing a radio show solely about Northwest music since I am from Oregon.
Maia: and i had actually just been hired as program director and ended up being the one to interview joanna about doing the north west show
Maia: she got hired, then we hung out once in a while and ended up becoming good friends!
yeah at the time i was basically overseeing all the different shows and making sure all the ducks were in a row
TWJ: So what was the moment like when you first got together in a room and starting plugging things in?
Maia: that moment actually came months after we started making music together!
TWJ: oh wow
Joanna: We definitely work separately… we had essentially been emailing ideas back and forth for a long time
and it wasn’t until we decided we needed how to figure how to play live that we got in the same room and started putting stuff together
TWJ: so a typical email from one fine lady to another would contain, what? lyrics, chords, beats?
Joanna: But everything was pretty much via email, just seemed to work well for both of us
Yes exactly! Usually an instrumental idea sent to Maia, and then a vocal and lyrical idea sent back to me and then back and forth from there
TWJ: a Postal Service serendipity
Maia: something along those lines for sure
we were super shy at first about sending each other ideas
but luckily we got over it.
TWJ: i’d be pretty excited to get the NEXT email, on the edge of my chair
TWJ: “omigosh what does she think?”
Maia: yeah that’s pretty much it!
Joanna: Yes! That’s exactly how it goes!
Every time I send something to Maia I pace until I hear back… but it is amazing to get the next iteration of a song and see how it is changed / sculpted into something different
TWJ: So do the emails take up a larger part of your days than they did before?
Are your day jobs still necessary?
Maia: when we’re working on a new song we’re constantly emailing back and forth and its a big part of the day, and other times when we’re not working on songs we are sending roughly 30 non-song emails back and forth a day
our day jobs are very necessary at this point
okay maybe not 30. but like 20.
Joanna: dude i mean 30’s not that far off the mark, let’s be honest.
TWJ: i’m sorry to hear about the necessity. Id imagine you’d like to give more time towards your music eventually. Sans day job?
Tis the dream?
Joanna: Definitely – – I mean right now it’s basically like we have two day jobs.
I mean each of us have our normal job and then spend the same if not more amount of time on Mitten
Maia: without a doubt, agreed
Maia: we think about parts of songs all day long pretty much
TWJ: any daily activity that helps the songs grow in particular?
does a great line or rhythm hit you while doing laundry for example?
Joanna: Sometimes yeah, I am pretty influenced by whatever I am listening to at the time and music that I’ve always listened to
TWJ: ooooo, which is?
Joanna: And completely influenced by whatever melodic ideas Maia sends over
Music I am listening to now is… um
Foster the People, Faded Paper Figures, Phantogram, Bodega Girls, Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, The Postal Service
Maia: OKAY COOL IT
Maia: usually when i listen to a 30 second clip joanna sends me I get really inspired, quickly
TWJ: that’s excellent!
sounds like the perfect mix
What are you hoping we the people will get from your music when we listen?
Maia: i hope people will want to listen to the songs more than once and find something in the melodies or the words that they connect with
Joanna: yes. what she said.
Maia: my favorite songs are the ones i listen to in earphones when i’m walking around the city
i want people to have that experience with our music
TWJ: oy! that’s great! I see city streets, I hear dancing on a subway
had that typed before you said that
So you’re doing a great job then!
Joanna: Ha, thank you!
TWJ: If the gods were bestow a freeee music video up Mitten, which song would it be for?
does one have a visual idea to it?
Joanna: we’d be pumped for a video for “You’re The Runner”
Maia: i want a choreographed large group dance scene
Joanna: in a basketball court.
TWJ: how large is large?
with sweat bands or no?
Joanna: of course sweat bands. always sweat bands.
TWJ: bright colors and high thighs?
TWJ: love it
Maia: short shorts
we had a video made for cavalcade
a stop motion one which turned out really cool
TWJ: how did I not know this?!
Joanna: it was a surprise for us too, she sent us the link and was like here’s this video i made!
TWJ: golly gosh that’s gotta be flattering
So the reaction to the EP has been good?
what kind of feedback are you getting?
Maia: we’ve been lucky to have a lot of positive feedback so far, which has been super encouraging! we worked for a long time to create these songs, and until we released the EP, people had only heard the other songs from the album when we played them live a few times
it has been cool to see which songs different people are drawn to
Joanna: yeah definitely – we have our favorites and it is definitely cool to see if people are on the same page or not about those songs
TWJ: Do mind telling me which are your favorites?
or should it remain a mystery?
Joanna: I honestly don’t know which are my favs
Solitary Moves has a special place in my ticker
Maia: yeah i actually can’t pick
TWJ: as a listener, the time you took to make the songs shows. There’s so many little things that pop up at just the right times
its really neat
Joanna: That is awesome, we really appreciate that you hear that kind of stuff!
TWJ: *Matt composes himself*
TWJ: was it tough to begin sharing the songs with audiences initially?
Maia: for sure! when we posted up our first mp3 online we had no idea what people would think….
TWJ: and then?
did your birds fly back?
Joanna: we were lucky, we fortunately got some nice feedback which was really encouraging
TWJ: How does Mr. Fitch play into things? (Ryan Fitch plays the drums/percussion with Mitten)
Joanna: Ryan is definitely the reason that we’re able to play live, without him there wouldn’t be a live show
he’s an amazingly talented musician, has a really good ear and is able to learn our songs quickly and really well and then perform them flawlessly
TWJ: ok, last official question
Joanna: cool hit us.
TWJ: Are there any love songs in your pocket for tomorrow?
Joanna: We’ll be serenading you at your doorstep around 7pm tomorrow night. Get ready.
TWJ: i tell you, I’ll be the greatest long distance Valentine you’ve never had
Joanna: (We’ll be billing you for airfare of course)!
Maia: Joanna, let’s drive
I’ll pick you up at 6am
Joanna: Sounds good.
TWJ: I enjoy Vic Damone tunes
sing me On The Street Where You Live, and I’m yours
Joanna: Noted, we’ll start working on them tonight. And then more on the drive. Check!
TWJ: precious few covers of great Love songs
you’d be great at it
Maia: thanks for online dating us tonight Matthew Argalas!
Joanna: agreed, happy birthday to mama jukebox!
TWJ: blush and bow
i’m taking her to a mystery dinner theater
Joanna: Be careful!
Thank you again though, we really appreciate this!
Maia: yeah this was a lot of fun!
TWJ: any questions for me, before we part?
Maia: real quick, middle name?
Joanna: (that was also my question)
that stands for something
Joanna: Maia owes me 10 bucks.
TWJ: has a real nice flow to it, when it’s yelled down the street
Joanna: Yeah it does. I just practicing screaming it.
Maia: i gotta run, dinner is starting to go down a bad road!
Joanna: good night!
Joanna Katcher has left.
Maia: goodnight sir!
TWJ: Thanks Maia
Maia Macdonald has left.
(Mitten’s See You Bye is available now)