A conversation with Computerwife on The Playlist
September 15th 2023
- :: Computerwife interview with Rhea Thomas on The Playlist
Addie Warnacke swears Atlanta is a driving city. The traffic could be worse than LA.
“It’s kind of funny because when you look at the map, you can see the smog, you know, with the air quality index… It would be hard to not have a car. I got around on a bike for most of my time though, which is also interesting.”
Addie is Computerwife, a project based in NYC – an equally smoggy city – but with a sound that is simultaneously out-of-city. It’s full, warm, and faintly compressed by a shitty blasting car speaker system. Addie speculates it’s the common lush sound native to Atlanta.
“I’ve missed testing on my music in the car because that’s such an amazing way to fucking feel it and see if it feels good, you know?”
Surprising energy for 10pm EDT, Addie is bright eyed and bubbly, sitting outside somewhere, a graffitied shutter dimly lit with a string of bulb lights hanging behind her. There are occasionally drums thrashing in the background. She turns to someone out of frame – “Do you know if there’s WiFi here? It says WiFi but I don’t know… But look, my phone’s already on 14%… I’m sorry [I’m] back. I’m at band rehearsal right now, my boyfriend’s band rehearsal.” She pulls up a hotspot for us to keep talking.
Computerwife have had two releases since 2020 – a self-titled EP and a recently released self-titled album. With three years between releases, Addie’s a believer in the formulaic creating and releasing album cycle, despite a worry of rushing.
“I think it is important to just get the stuff out there because you have to reset every once in a while. You hoard your demos and then eventually you have to just clear out everything and decide what you’re going to keep.”
Released mid-pandemic, Computerwife’s first EP is the first example of this kind of purge. The release is 14 minutes of synth, guitar, and compressed vocals, and workshopped demos that propelled the band to success in its latest release.
“I was being so randomly gassed, for no reason. It became something that I was more comfortable with because I was like, OK, I guess people do really like this, you know. The two songs that I really like on that EP are probably ‘Ignore Facts’ and ‘Melancholia’. And everybody likes ‘Leave Me Be’ and I’m cool with it, but it’s not my favourite thing in the world.”
I admitted to Addie that I never really understood the lyrics to ‘Ignore Facts’ having looked them up simply a day or two before.
“I don’t think anyone ever knows what my lyrics are. Those were made out of scraps of words but I like the overall way that it sounds. I can’t even remember what I was thinking when I was making it. I used to write lyrics out of Tumblr usernames or phrases that I would see on the Internet.”
The Tumblr writing inspiration comes with no surprise with a name like Computerwife – an obvious nod to the Internet, with a capital I. Addie and I compare Tumblrs, recalling a time where Cassie from Skins, oil slicks on asphalt, and moving camera gifs reigned supreme. She reminds me she never deleted those. A complex yet impassioned relationship with social media is also unsurprising for a Tumblr kid.
“Social media is like a form of art. Sometimes I go through like phases where I spend 30 minutes and look through every single fucking story. When I go on for five seconds the algorithm is just pushing shit at me, that kind of makes me sad. But then when I watched it all the way through, I’m like, holy motherfucking shit. There’s some people who are really bored, there’re people who are doing stuff that’s exciting, people who are depressed, and people who are colourful…seeing all of the different ways that people brand themselves… That’s when it kind of gets interesting to me.”
Computerwife formed when Addie met her bandmates, Dalton Salisbury and John Supnik, after moving to New York for music school, a process which happened seemingly quickly in a way that only would at music schools. Tastes finding tastes, skramz bands, side projects and so on. For a period of time, Addie was the host of Saturday late night radio slot at WNYU, the New York University radio station, with a show specialising in witch house and grave wave, titled ‘Dancing on your grave’, undoubtedly an influence on the dark, gothic, purple-hued sound of both her albums. The show came after she submitted ten pitches. And as goes with a lot of people working in music and also slogging the graveyard shift, Addie pulled back from the show.
“I didn’t get to know anybody else on the radio station, which was my primary reason for joining and then found that it actually just detracted from my ability to be involved in community rather than building it.”
Addie is confident in music – curious, comfortable and inspired since grade school. Her father Jeff Warnacke was a member of Epic Records band Hollyfaith in the 90s and she still uses his hand-me-downs to produce Computerwife. From wanting to make jingles for a living and indulging in Lana Del Ray, Sky Ferreira and Taylor Swift covers between 4th and 8th grade, Addie’s interest in production flourished.
“I started learning more about how to play the instruments. I just started shuffling my entire iPod library and learning how to play every part to every song, learning how to drum the parts on my pillow and bass and guitar. That’s what got me into production.”
The EP highlighted Computerwife alongside other bands of a similar flavour– They Are Gutting A Body Of Water, Hotline TNT, Panchiko, feeble little horse, all emerging as a new wave of East coast DIY and shoegaze that consolidated as everyone moved into the city. The bands have been touring regulars over the past few years.
“I think it may be cyclical, where there are different generations of scenes that move through. This scene that I’m a part of really took shape after everybody graduated college. Then also there’s people who are more invested than usual, like Doug and Emily from TAGABOW – they’re really invested in creating a scene.”
Addie and I laugh, noting the difference between a conversation and an interview.
“It’s crazy because I ask you the questions back, but then it’s like on to the next question right off.”
Watching, learning, asking and engaging seems natural for Addie – carrying through in her approach to Computerwife. She looks to her DIY peers.
“Stella Wave from Hello Mary, Sabrina Fuentes from Pretty Sick, my friend Victoria Winter, who’s in Shower Curtain…I respect them and I take so much inspiration from them. There’s a f*cking million other people that I could name, but those are the people that are around me, my age, doing similar things to me. I learned what my next steps are going to be from them. They’re my mentors, whether or not they know it or whether or not they would like for me to say that, you know what I mean?”
Listen back to my full interview with Computerwife on The Playlist above. Buy/stream her album on Bandcamp below.