Mystery Waitress are a band who have been playing gigs regularly around Wellington. They first came to our attention when someone with good taste mentioned their EP was worth a listen and that Tessa had a unique voice. We soon found ourselves listening to the EP on high rotate. Then we asked the band to play our Flying Nun shop launch, earlier this year.
Below is the second video we recorded and filmed of the band, completed in collaboration with Radio Active.
Here is the song Red Red Red and below Tessa answers a few questions.
For someone who might not know anything about you - what music have you released? Where and how was it recorded?
We released our debut album last September, it’s called Nest. It was recorded in a pretty DIY fashion, using the boardroom of Coffee Supreme where both James and I (Tessa) were working. James knew how to use Ableton Live, and we just spent our nights in there after everyone had gone home recording and re-recording bits until the whole thing seemed done. Olivia recorded the drums with Shaun Anderson in an empty storage unit somewhere. I painted the cover art myself, I’d been painting a lot around the time and the motif of a hand rising out of water holding a bowl became a kind of symbol for Mystery Waitress in my mind. I think of it as ‘Mystery Soup’.
Can you tell us a little bit about each of your pre-Mystery Waitress musical backgrounds? Any other current music projects?
Well, Olivia is in about a thousand bands. You might know Revulva, Zero Cool, and Yumi Zouma, for example. Xanthe is the force behind Recitals. James plays guitar in Michael Llewellyn And The Oh My Darlings. I’d always played solo till Mystery Waitress. I’m also working on a solo side project called Tessa de Lyon, which is my more vulnerable, piano based music.
How did the three (now four) members meet?
I met Olivia first, we were both playing a gig at Caroline (R.I.P). She was drumming in Dam Dans, we were opening for Lake South, I think. I saw her playing and thought, all right, I’ll nab her. I never actually built up the courage, and a few months later when she asked me to sing in a band (that never eventuated) I finally recruited her.
James and I were working at Supreme, bagging coffee beans, listening to Brian Jonestown Massacre, it was a natural progression. Xanthe is our new bass player, we had seen her playing with Recitals around the place and she is great! She offered herself up to the band and we took her.
Mystery Waitress seem to suddenly be playing a lot of shows around Wellington - what have been some highlights or lowlights?
A highlight for me is that I haven’t had to organise a single thing, we keep being asked to play gigs and open for people and it’s very nice knowing people want us! We always have a fun time - we like doing a dress-up theme, recently we all wore suits on stage, and at Bush Bash we were cowboys. Welcome to Nowhere was a sweaty highlight, and playing a gig on the deck of the old Sealion boat was a windy and special experience. No real lowlights so far, touch wood.
What are your plans for the near future? Any big dream plans for the less near future?
We are about to start recording some new songs and hopefully release an album later in the year, and although I say I’m glad to have not organised any gigs so far… I’m actually really looking forward to planning a special release show. We’d also love to tour! And big dreamy plans of playing overseas one day.