December, 2011 By: Dennis M. Kelly
Photo by Diane Alexander White.
White Mystery Biography
White Mystery is the two-piece rock’n’roll brother/sister duo of Miss Alex White and Francis Scott Key White from Chicago. Named a Top Act and Best Video Premiere by MTV and praised by WBEZ, The Chicago Tribune, LA Weekly, Sound Opinions, Village Voice, Austin Chronicle, Elle Magazine Brazil, and The Chicago Reader fuels self-released albums and hundreds of shows around North America. Weezer, The Gories, and Mavis Staples invited the ferocious duo to play this year.
Interview with White Mystery
DK: Thanks to you both for taking the time with us today, we really appreciate it! How was your Thanksgiving weekend and how are you both doing today?
White Mystery: Feeling chipper, thanks.
DK: Glad to hear it! With how busy the band have been all year, I was surprised to see only two gigs listed (so far), one at the Hideout on December 2nd, and another at JBTV on December 8th. One might think it would feel good to get a break, but something tells me you’re both wanting to get back out there and Rock another venue, am I right?
White Mystery: There are at least five shows around the country that will be announced in early December, and a two month tour that will be announced in January.
DK: Nice, can’t wait to hear this news when it is announced and we’ll post it out right away too so everyone stays up to date with your schedule too. It is great to see that you’ll be on JBTV, we like them very much actually. Have you watched Jerry’s show much through the years?
White Mystery: It’s great to watch, and I attended the opening party for their TV studio downtown years ago.
DK: Like you, he’s been out there, doing his thing for the love of it and I think that is really where the attraction is, it is pure and simply you both on stage, guitar, amp and drums, no frills and it seems to be really speaking to a lot of people. This is the core of Rock-n-Roll, unapologetic and raw. It will be great to have you cataloged in the vast JBTV video library, I mean, he has a rich history stored up there in his studio and we love that they’re growing bigger these past couple years now too. How long will you be performing there for?
White Mystery: White Mystery performs six songs live for a studio audience.
DK: Looking at all the photos of the band on your site, just the range of venues you’ve played already is staggering and I am very impressed with what you’ve been able to accomplish, especially being just the two of you too. Some of the photos of the band on the larger stages strangely enough though looked almost out of place, you’ve got a great stage presence, no doubt, but have you had any trouble working the larger stages and keeping the audiences engaged?
White Mystery: Playing with Weezer for Riot Fest at the Congress Theater in front of thousands of people was a piece of cake and an awesome opportunity to exploit a large stage with plenty of room to rock.
DK: It really seems your sound is speaking to this generation and its time has come. What do you think your fans are getting out of your music? The aggression, party music? Both? Are there just more people that speak your language these days?
White Mystery: Positive, high energy music invigorates people of all ages. White Mystery is an honest band. People appreciate truth these days.
DK: Ain’t THAT the truth! What would you say the average age of your fans are?
White Mystery: There are babies who wear White Mystery onesies, and grandparents who rock White Mystery hankies…that would make the average age 25.
DK: My grandmother is one of them too! I think back to the Grateful Dead and their relationship with the Deadheads and it almost seems like White Mystery is developing a similarly committed fan base of sorts. The band has definitely worked hard to build that base for sure. It would seem between the amount of shows you do, meeting the fans and just being yourselves out there, that might simply be all there is to being the secret to your success. Would you agree with that assessment? Or am I missing something, or some things in this equation?
White Mystery: You hit the nail on the head. Hard work and perseverance lubricate relationships too!
DK: When did you notice the whirlwind of White Mystery fever start to take off and were you able to quit the 9-5 fairly early on?
White Mystery: There was a palpable buzz at the first White Mystery show that has grown with hundreds of shows around North America since 2008 and there’s a lot more work to go. It’s amazing to focus on music and art full-time.
DK: From an interview I saw of you with Greg Kot from the Chicago Tribune, you both sound pretty level headed and keenly focused on the band’s future. One thing I was wondering is do you think you might add your brother, Nicholas on bass or an additional guitarist to the band or even just the live shows any time in the future?
White Mystery: White Mystery is purely a partnership between Miss Alex White and Francis Scott Key White. Family, friends, and fans that are necessary ingredients to the success of White Mystery.
DK: You’ve made your impact on MTV, which to some, might seem to be a milestone of success for a band. It is definitely great, but what is your idea of success for your personal goals and the bands?
White Mystery: One day, we’d like to sell out the Aragon Ballroom and play on a nationwide, late night TV show like Conan O’Brien.
DK: With how active the band is these days, do you have to force yourselves to sit down and deal with the “not so fun” parts of the business, or have you just managed to make it a normal part of your routine?
White Mystery: Work is a normal part of the routine that lasts from noon to 3AM on non-show days, occupied with creating content and guiding the future of White Mystery.
DK: Tell me about the White Mystery brand that you are developing. Between the band itself, to the label and now moving more into merchandising. Have you defined what the brand fully entails and what definitely will not be a part of what the business would be involved in?
White Mystery: The vision and branding of White Mystery is clear. Look at our website for colors, imagery, shows, blog content, custom underwear in the shop, and music…there’s a defined aesthetic balanced with an openness to new ideas. http://www.whitemysteryband.com
DK: With your mom having this great connection to Chicago (photographing for the Field Museum) and Chicago’s history (being there for the Disco Demolition), do you also feel a similar kind of connection with our great city?
White Mystery: Yes, White Mystery is a product of urban existence.
DK: I have to say your mom’s photo of you for the cover of Blood and Venom is a very sharp photo with great color and stands out quite nicely. Her photos really compliment and strengthen the band’s professionalism. Do you always intend on having her do your photos?
White Mystery: Yes, she has a keen eye for balance and color! We can always depend on Momma White for flattering shots. Check out her website here: http://www.dawhitephotography.com
DK: Getting back to talking about Chicago really quick, what would you say makes Chicago great and what do you feel takes away from the greatness of it? And what would it take to make it better?
White Mystery: Hotdogs, rock’n’roll, gyros, museums, DIY spots, and people are its strengths. Parking tickets, red light tickets, potholes, and speed humps are its weaknesses.
DK: How do you feel Chicago rates as compared to L.A. and New York as a place for bands to become “discovered?”
White Mystery: Is it being discovered, or working hard toward success?
DK: Touche’. How about the competitive nature of bands in Chicago? From your experiences, are Chicago bands more competitive or cooperative and supportive of each other?
White Mystery: There’s a healthy competition among friends that propels people toward greatness, which is artistic support at its core.
DK: For any musicians in other cities, would you recommend they come to Chicago to become part of what we have here?
White Mystery: Keep out!
DK: LOL… Now, as we mentioned earlier, you’ve got two gigs this month, what do you have planned for the remainder of the year?
White Mystery: White Mystery has an annual Fan Appreciation Party planned for Schuba’s during their TNK fest on January 15, kicks off the touring season at South By Southwest, has a new release coming, new music videos, and plenty of love to share with the world.
DK: Cool, a lot to look forward to! Now shifting on to family a moment here, do you have a large extended family to share the holidays with?
White Mystery: No.
DK: What is a White family gathering like?
White Mystery: Lots of curly hair!
DK: I bet! LOL. What is a typical Christmas gift from each of you?
White Mystery: Francis does not get me gifts. Last year I bought him a toothbrush.
DK: Sweet, and it is the perfect gift as a stocking stuffer! I expect with the band’s success, money isn’t so much of an issue, but, what is your take on this economy and the state of the country these days?
White Mystery: There’s unrest fueling more unrest. When are higher authorities going to acknowledge what’s going on in the public, and mediate this dialogue?
DK: The time for talk has long since passed, but would always be welcome if, like you said, someone would just make the first step towards a positive change for all Americans. How much of an impact has the economy had on your touring?
White Mystery: You always have to hustle.
DK: Do you have much hope for change for the country?
White Mystery: Yes!
DK: That is good! With everyone starting to finally wake up and realize that this country is messed up, I am more optimistic that things can really get better, but it is not going to be a quick road, for sure. There has to be a strong measure of accountability with our “elected” officials, otherwise there will never be any trust. If you were placed in a seat of power and allowed to make any changes to our country, what would they be?
White Mystery: Socialize medicine, legalize marijuana.
DK: These are definitely turbulent times, indeed. What advice would you offer those who are “occupying” the many cities across the world?
White Mystery: Unify your voices and express your needs clearly.
DK: Yes, that would definitely seem to be one of the main arguments against them aside from the misinformation that our media keeps spewing out, of course. Speaking of advice, what advice would you offer aspiring musicians looking to make it big?
White Mystery: Identify your goals and own your success by working hard.
DK: I really respect that since this is something that you live day after day. Great advice, thanks! I know you’ve got a new album on the works, but what does the band have lines up for 2012, when do you anticipate the album will be done?
White Mystery: You can expect a new release from White Mystery every April 20.
DK: With the amount of your shows, do you think you might want to start recording your shows and selling them at least online?
White Mystery: Yes.
DK: Cool, I’ll look forward to that then! Well, I would like to thank you very much for taking the time again, I am glad we got this chance to learn more about you both! We look forward to watching the band grow even further!
White Mystery: Thank you for asking thoughtful questions, and doing your research.
DK: You’re most welcome! I am glad you liked them! Til the next time then! Take care!