Caturday with Paz Lenchantin

Photography:
Brendan Burdzinski
Words:
Kathleen Hefty

Paz Lenchantin’s smile lights up the room, which is already very bright. We are sitting in the sun-drenched living room of her newly-renovated Los Angeles home, where she’s knocked out a wall to create a giant window overlooking the hills. The kitchen overflows into the rest of the house and the dining table sits outside on the second-floor patio. And as she plays records and reminisces about the surf trip to Mexico that left her glowing, Paz has a warmth and lightheartedness that will make you forget she’s a rock star. But as bassist, vocalist, and songwriter for legendary rock group The Pixies, she has been recording and touring worldwide with the band for the past five years. On stage, she’s magnetic and exceptionally talented.

It seems her life is in a constant state of flux but today she has a moment of down time. Still, she’s preparing to leave for Mexico City, where she will screen The Spider Lady, a stop-motion film she directed, scored and shot on Super 8. Even with many projects under way and a near-constant travel schedule, she exudes an effortless cool that puts you at ease, which is fitting because paz means peace.  As she led us on a tour of her new home, Paz talked about writing, recording the forthcoming Pixies album in a former church, how she stays healthy on tour (Bikram, among other things), and her avant-garde directorial projects such as music videos for Entrance Band and The Pixies, and fashion videos for the London-based line Sister Jane. Here are excerpts from our conversation in Los Angeles and from the road during the Weezer x Pixies Spring 2019 tour.

KH: What’s your songwriting process like? How do you prefer to work?
PL: It’s different for each song. Musically speaking, we are four band mates in a room playing chords to a beat that feels right. If something feels off we try to fix it until it all feels right to us. It’s not too complicated. Lyrically speaking, for the most part the music comes first and the lyrics gets applied after.
KH: You’re on this epic tour right now; what’s it like to perform in front of an audience like Madison Square Garden?
PL: I’m always in my own bubble but it’s important to be present and let things last as long as possible because soon it’s over and the show that began has ended, that is until the next show…
KH: What are you reading?
PL: Stephen King On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. It’s pretty good. I like his work but I’m mostly interested in how people approach their craft.
KH: Could you describe a special piece of art in your home?
PL: When I moved into my house, my inspiration in designing it was a painting by my good friend, the talented Mattea Perrotta’. I have on my mantel in the den.
KH: What makes you laugh?
PL: I’m a sucker for puns. Gets me every time. My good friend Stan Kegel wrote a book of puns for musicians, The Ants Are My Friend, with a drawing of Bob Dylan on the cover referencing “The Answer My Friend.” Puns are silly but they make me laugh.
KH: Could you talk a bit about the role surfing plays in your life?
PL: I’ve always lived by the sea and it just makes sense to take advantage of your surroundings. It wasn’t really until I lived in San Clemente, California, that I got really into surfing. The culture in San Clemente, to me, is very different than any other place that I’ve lived. It’s part of life there. As a bass player, I’m a collaborator, and there was a time where I felt like I needed to do something by myself, and surfing helped me do something totally by myself again. It’s like a self-journey.

Click to listen to
Paz Lenchantin’s
playlist

KH: You’ve directed several music and fashion videos, in addition to The Spider Lady. What was your entry into directing?
PL: I’m not a professional director [or] filmmaker and there’s something really fun about being an amateur in something, where I have very little expectation on the outcome so every time I see something, I’m really excited and I don’t judge myself. I’ve had this one Super 8 camera since I was 15 years old and every time I look through that viewfinder I go into this other world and it’s a world that’s continued since I was a kid. It’s just very playful.
KH: What’s the story of meeting The Space Lady—one of the musicians on your play list?
PL: [About] four years ago, I was walking down Venice Boulevard with my friend Henry; and I see her [on the street] with her hat and her Casio with her amp, and there was basically no one else. It was just the two of us in front of her. As she’s playing, this policeman comes up to her and goes, Do you have a permit? And she [says], No, this is just what I do. The policeman [tells her], You gotta go. So she’s packing up all her stuff and I say, Hey can we make this up to you? Can I book a show for you? [She agrees] and I say, bring all your records because you’ll sell out. And she sold out of every record. She’s just the sweetest woman on the planet; I just love her so much. I still to this day try and turn people on to her music because not one single person ever goes, Oh I don’t like that. No one.
KH: Could you tell us a little bit about your neighborhood cat?
PL: My neighbor’s cat is a black cat named Blue. I always wanted to have animals but I can’t because I tour too much. So, having a neighborhood cat or birds that come around, little squirrels, I love them. This cat really likes hanging out at my house. I fed it one time right when I moved in, just to say Hi—my little housewarming with the cat. We basically shared a plate of sardines together. I went outside with crackers and sardines and we both kind of hung out and ate it. I don’t think he ever forgot about it because he does come around. I love Blue.
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