Q&A with Alex White
Secret to White Mystery is No Mystery
Story and interview by David Shuey / main page photo by Yuri Alexander, December 18, 2009
It's a drizzly October 20th, and on a whim I decide to see Japan punk legends – and Kurt Cobain favorite – Shonen Knife at Bottom Lounge. The all-female power trio shred the crowd in two in their bizarre neon pant-suits, but it is the opening act, White Mystery, that leaves me scratching my head. But only after rocking it.
The young duo comes on stage in a wave of red curls for their bustling sound checks. White Mystery go straight into the music, but not before the drummer hunts down a plug to get his own fan working (see pic after bump). Very DIY. Seems the air currents not only cool down brother Francis White, they also blow tresses to-and-fro for dramatic effect as his sister, the established Miss Alex White, blows away the crowd with killer licks and raw power vocals.
Still, this is no Chicago's answer to the White Stripes in reverse. (Switch the genders on the drum kit and guitar/vocals duty, turn the black hair bright orange, etc. Eh, okay, maybe that's a stretch.) Their spectacle is transparent. As witnessed again one month later at Empty Bottle, White Mystery IS a burning line of music, leaving a skid mark in your own scalp as it proceeds to nail the bored arm-folder in the back row. This was evident down in front, as C6C pal Scarlett and I joined a pond of head-bangers and dancers, including legendary Dan the Fan – a WM regular, I notice, after two shows (also see pic below). Even the kids can bare witness, as seen on Chic-A-Go-Go.
After a back-stage all-ginger head photo-op, we ask for an interview. Below is an exchange this month with Miss Alex White about where her and her brother are from and where they're going.
C6C: How would you describe your current musical direction as White Mystery? Is it a FEEL you're going for, or is your fast-paced combination of stripped down guitar/vocals/percussion a vehicle to carry the SONGS forward?
C6C: Follow-up question: And "stripped down" or "garage rock" – these are terms bandied about for certain bands. Do you embrace it? Is it by necessity, i.e., keeping things simple and economical? Or is that a preferred musical direction? (i.e., when you get huge, will you go straight for the keyboards and electronics?)