Interview with Company of Thieves: Embarking on Personal Projects and Speaking up About #TimesUp and #MeToo Movement

Photography by Jonathan Mazalthan

We sat down with Genevieve Schatz of Company of Thieves who are accompanying Walk the Moon for their Press Restart tour this spring. From Chicago, but now relocated to LA, Schatz shares her stories with us about her journey through music.

You just released the song “Treasure” recently this January. How would you describe the style of the song compared to previously released songs and album?

I would say the style of the song is very emotional and cinematic. It has more aggression to it than a lot of our past recordings. It’s cool because we recorded and produced it at Mark’s house in LA. 

How would describe the song production process? It tends to vary with artists/musicians. Do you write songs individually or together? Do you write the tracks and instrumentals first, or do you write the songs first?

It changes every time. Sometimes it’ll start where Mark is playing a few chords on the guitar and I’ll come up with the melody. Other times I’ll come in with the lyrics and melody idea, then we create a song on that. Sometimes we’ll ask ourselves how are we feeling today and create a base or beat that’s going with a mood, and we’ll see where it comes from that. It depends on what’s feeling good that day. 

It’s been a while since you guys had released music other than “Treasure”, did you take that time to write new music, embark on personal projects, etc?

Totally! I made an EP called Show You Colors under Genevieve. Mark made an album under the band named Spill called Through The Seasons. He also played with AWOLNATION and collaborated with a lot of artists on different songs like Kurt Vile [with the song] “Pretty Pimpin”, or Margot and the Nuclear So-And-Sos. We’ve definitely been writing music this whole time.

Genevieve, since you are a solo artist as well, how is working as an independent solo artist different from collaborating with the band?

As an independent solo artist, I was still making music with other people, it just wasn’t my bandmates. So each time I would go write a song, I would go meet another songwriter and we would be introduced to each other based on the sole fact that we both liked to write songs. We would sit down in a room and not know each other, but we would sit down in a room and talk about our lives and sounds that we like. One of us would pull out an instrument and play a sound, then start coming up with melodies and figure out which instruments could accompany the melody. It was really explorative in that way. So when I come back to the band, the main difference I find is that I have a personal history with the bandmates, so there’s a dynamic that is very energetic and goes beyond even the bond of music. There’s a different way our conversations can go and we already know the topical things about each other. It becomes less polite and even more open, and totally informal.

 
 

Touching base on the Grammys and what’s happening in the music and entertainment industry with the campaigns such as #MeToo and #TimesUp, how do you find yourself represented in such a male-dominated industry?

I find myself represented by myself. I’m committed to expressing myself as clearly as I can. I’m always speaking from a place of truth and not hiding. I fully represent myself, I feel I don’t let anyone hold me back. If anyone was to hold me back, it would be me.

I’ve always wanted to get the female perspective of what’s it like being in the industry because we tend to see the male’s perspective very much in the media. 

Early on in our career, it was difficult to find people that can record my voice, as well as how I wanted it to sound. I like all the details of what makes my voice mine and not anyone else's. I guess early on it was very difficult to be presented in photos. People who are invested in your project who want to make money off of it would like you to appear very sexy, or having goofy things suggested for photoshoots in a way, but we didn’t do them. So that’s what I mean when I say I feel I’m representing myself because whenever I have a chance to speak up, it’s on me. That being said I am very sensitive to the #MeToo and the #TimesUp campaigns and I completely agree. In my personal life and my professional life, I’ve experienced tons of harassment and abuse but I was still [able to] represent myself. I feel it’s difficult for me to fully craft the words and explain how layered this topic is. When we’re younger there are things that stand out to me. I have horrible stories but I don’t want to go into that right now because I feel like it’s not true for me at this moment. For example, I was walking into a venue and the production manager said, ”Whose girlfriend are you? Are you the merch girl?” and I was like,”No, I’m the lead singer of the band. Excuse me?” That experience is a tiny example of the huge things going. It’s a human issue. I guess that’s the thing that bothers me.

Company of Thieves has such a very alternative rock sound, were there any musicians and artists that inspired you guys as you continue to make new music?

We have a lot of modern influences that inspired these songs. Everyone from Beach House to Alabama Shakes to The Kills, Childish Gambino and Kendrick Lamar. 

How has tour been so far and what can new and old fans expect from the shows?

These shows are gonna be really fun, very high energy and a good invitation for anyone to come dance with us and access a full range of feelings. Expect to get emotional, not like weeping in the corner but accessing [those emotions like the] feeling of joy, heartbreak, and relief. 

From your new songs, do you expect to make the connection with your songs to your fans? 

Yes, definitely. It’s a very vulnerable EP and it’s good!

Who are some artists that you’re currently listening to?

Let’s see, Tame Impala, Kendrick Lamar and The War on Drugs. I’ve been listening to Dorothy Ashby. My friend told me about her the other week and she’s an Afro-Harpist from the 60s.