• About A Band: Mise en Scene

    Welcome to Winnipeg: home to our newest Urban Outfitters store, incredible coffee, great bars, and (when they're not busy traveling the world) the members of garage-rock-duo-turned-quartet Mise en Scene.

    Founded by Stefanie Blondal Johnson and Jodi Dunlap, Mise en Scene came into existence after the girls first united through a "mutual love of the arts" while in school. Soon after, the duo moved from painting together to jamming together. Now, they're working on their second full-length album and touring the world. We chatted to vocalist Stefanie a few Sundays ago in anticipation of their performance at our Winnipeg store this Friday, October 17, to find out what we can expect to hear from the band's new album and what life's been like for the duo since releasing their first LP Desire's Despair in 2012.

    Hi Stefanie! Can you tell us a little bit about you guys for people who might not know you?

    Yeah, [Jodi and I] met in a small town, a little Icelandic community town. It’s actually the capital of New Iceland, a town called Gimli. I was working at a film festival and Jodi was working at a museum. We were always in the same building and became friends. We started painting together and taking photos together, because we were both in art school, and eventually just started playing together.

    Did you know you wanted to be a musician growing up or is this something you realized later in life?

    I realized later. I was always a writer, like I was always writing poetry and I studied English in Montreal. It was in Montreal where I started teaching myself how to play the guitar and doing open mic nights there.

    Were you singing from a young age? We love your voice!

    Thank you [laughs]! No, I wasn’t. I’m self-taught in basically everything; it’s kind of weird. I didn’t start playing guitar or singing, really, until I was around 22. Jodi’s been playing drums her whole life but I kind of came to it later. I just realized that I really wanted to do it one day and I couldn’t stop writing. The next thing I knew, I was like, "I really want to spend a lot of time doing this."

    We saw that you guys were going to start working on your new album soon. You’ve written songs for that already though, right?

    I did a few months long residency program and it was great. I had my own little cabin in the mountains and I just wrote and wrote and wrote. So, yeah, I wrote the songs, so now we’re getting ready to get into the studio in November. We’re so excited. The new songs are going to be so good! They’re definitely a departure from the first album but we’re going in a really good direction for the band.

    Do you think it was harder writing the follow-up?

    We kind of fell ass-backwards into our first album, like, “Oh my god, we have an album.” [Laughs] I had a huge collection of songs for that one but this one is a lot more considered. I had to get over writer’s block, though, because we were touring so much. I just wasn’t able to write and we were experiencing so many different countries and major cities all over the world, like our music was taking us all over the place, so we were kind of overwhelmed with everything. That’s kind of why I needed to do that residency, because I needed to go lock myself away in the mountains for two months and empty out my head. It’s interesting. It’s still kind of evolving but I think it’s really indicative of where we are and where we’re going.

    Have you guys been playing new songs at your recent shows?

    No, we have! We recently added a permanent bassist and a lead guitarist to our band, which really fills out our sound during a live performance. They’re awesome guys and they really add a lot to our music. It’s been good. Wait, I think I forgot what you asked me [laughs].

    We were wondering how the new songs have been going!

    Oh, yeah! Okay, so we’ve been playing, and we’ve been really excited to play with the new members live. I couldn’t remember why I started talking about them [laughs]. We really want to make sure that we’re ready to go in the studio, so now every chance we get to perform, we want to spend as much time as possible playing new songs live before we get in there to record. We’re also so excited about the new stuff that we’re like, “Ah, I don’t want to play the old stuff anymore!”

    And the two new guys are 100% permanent?

    Yep! It’s very new. We’ve officially become a four-piece band in the last month or so. Jody and I are still the band, we’re the original members and have gotten us to where we are today, but we’re starting to write music that wants more on it. It wants more dimension and more sounds on the songs, so we were very careful when choosing who to work with. We want to keep that garage-rock duo aspect of who we are, and we want to make sure that stays, but we’re also growing and so is the music. It wants those parts; it wants those instruments on there. The guys really understand what we’re about and what we’re doing.

    That’s awesome. Since you’re playing our Winnipeg opening, can you tell us a little something about the city?

    I love being there because there’s so many characters in the area and there’s lots of great bars. I love this one pub called The Grove; there are tons of great beers on tap. There are also a ton of great little shops and restaurants in that area. That’s the general area where we like to go. Yeah, it’s good! Whenever we actually get to be home in Winnipeg, it’s so much fun.

    Mise en Scene
    Shop Music

    See Mise en Scene live at the Winnipeg store opening [1485 Portage Ave.] on Friday, October 17 at 7:00PM!