Mazzy Star

Mazzy Star

Mazzy Star was an American dream pop band. They formed in 1989, from the band Opal, a collaboration of guitarist David Roback and bassist Kendra Smith. Smith's friend Hope Sandoval became the group's vocalist when Smith left the band.

Mazzy Star is probably best known for the song "Fade into You" which brought the band some success in the mid-1990s and was the group's biggest mainstream hit, earning radio and MTV airplay. Roback and Sandoval were the creative center of the band, with Sandoval writing most of the lyrics and Roback composing most of the music.

Formation and Paisley Underground

Mazzy Star's roots in the California Paisley Underground movement of the 1980s are deep. Roback, along with his brother Steve, was one of the main architects of leading Los Angeles psychedelic revival band, the Rain Parade. Leaving that band after their first LP, he founded Opal in the mid-1980s with ex- Dream Syndicate bassist Kendra Smith. Opal's quasi-psychedelic ruminations, with their guitar drones and hints of blues and folk, weren't far off the map that Mazzy Star would follow, and indeed Roback met Sandoval through Smith. Sandoval, still in high school at the time, was playing in a duo called Going Home with Sylvia Gomez; Kendra was impressed enough to make a tape of their music and pass it on to Roback, who produced a still-unreleased album by the pair.

When Smith left Opal under cloudy circumstances in the middle of an American tour with The Jesus & Mary Chain, Sandoval was tapped as her replacement. After that tour and a jaunt through Europe were completed, Opal disbanded, and Roback and Sandoval decided to continue collaborating in Mazzy Star.

She Hangs Brightly

Their 1990 debut on Rough Trade, She Hangs Brightly, was a post-punk take on the kind of dark psychedelia practiced by The Doors on "The End", as well as the massive guitar drone woven by The Velvet Underground on "What Goes On". Most of the rest of their material is devoted to acoustic-flavoured ballads with heavy blues and folk elements, often featuring Roback on slide guitar.

So Tonight That I Might See

The American branch of Rough Trade folded in 1991, but Mazzy Star's contract was picked up by Capitol, who re-issued the first album and put out the follow-up, So Tonight That I Might See (1993).

A year after its release, the album yielded an unexpected hit single, the wispy "Fade into You".

Among My Swan

Their subsequent release, Among My Swan (1996) confirmed them as champions of the mournful – their brooding, enigmatic public personas seem less a cultivated pose than a complement to the shadowy, brooding mystery of their simultaneously frustrating and entrancing soundscapes.

Hiatus, Reunion, and Subsequent Work

After the release of Among My Swan, the band toured until early 1997, after which they would not be heard from for three years. During this time, Sandoval, who had appeared on The Jesus and Mary Chain's 1994 release Stoned & Dethroned, made another guest appearance on their final record Munki, and also collaborated with The Chemical Brothers.

In 2000, the band reunited for a mini-tour in Europe, which featured new songs that Sandoval later revealed in interviews would be on the new Mazzy Star record, which was also recorded during this time. However, these sessions were not released.

Although the band never officially broke up, Sandoval would go on to found the band Hope Sandoval & the Warm Inventions, and appear on recordings by Bert Jansch, Air and Death in Vegas.

Sandoval made her solo debut in 2001 with Bavarian Fruit Bread ostensibly backed by the Warm Inventions, though really this is a pairing with Colm Ó Cíosóig (once of My Bloody Valentine), and with folk legend Bert Jansch on "Butterfly Mornings" and "Charlotte". Largely written by Sandoval, the album is more free-flowing and abstract than what was attempted with Mazzy Star.

Roback wrote songs that were later performed by actress Maggie Cheung in the 2004 film Clean, about a former drug addict who wants to become a singer.

In November 2003, Mazzy Star made their last appearance (to date) at Jansch's 60th Birthday party, when Sandoval and Roback joined Jansch, his son Adam, and O'Ciosoig to play three songs featuring Sandoval on vocals including her solo track "Suzanne".

Songs in popular culture


Hope Sandoval

Besides vocals, Sandoval plays harmonica, percussions, and xylophone, and occasionally plays the guitar. She writes nearly all the lyrics, with occasional input from David Roback.

Hope Sandoval was born in 1966 and grew up in East L.A. in a Mexican-American family. She started her career with her high-school friend Sylvia Gomez (who later played on She Hangs Brightly) in a band called Going Home, a folk duo formed in 1986. Hope and Sylvia admired Kendra Smith as a teenage Dream Syndicate fan. Gomez handed Smith a demo tape which was comprised of Sandoval on vocals and Gomez on guitar. Roback offered to produce some recordings for them and they went into the studio and recorded an album that to this day has yet to be released. Sandoval and Gomez played gigs in California throughout the mid 1980s.

During the Opal tour in December 1987, Smith left the band. Roback called Sandoval to see if she would be interested in taking Smith's place in Opal. They found Kendra and had some discussions. They did two more shows together, but then Smith flew home. Keith Mitchell flew home as well, and the next day he got back with Sandoval.

Sandoval reveals: :"For me recording is better. Live, I just get really nervous. Once you're on-stage, you're expected to perform. I don't do that. I always feel awkward about just standing there and not speaking to the audience. It's difficult for me." – Musician magazine

In 2000, Sandoval joined with Colm Ó Cíosóig (formerly of My Bloody Valentine) to form Hope Sandoval & the Warm Inventions. The project retained the laid-back, slowcore sound of Mazzy Star. In 2001 Sandoval issued her first EP with the Warm Inventions, At the Doorway Again, and followed it up with her debut full-length album, Bavarian Fruit Bread, a year later. She has also contributed on several songs by other artists, such as The Jesus & Mary Chain, Chemical Brothers, Bert Jansch, and Death In Vegas.

David Roback

In Mazzy Star, Roback plays guitar, keyboard, and piano. He writes almost all the music to Mazzy Star, and he has also produced all their recordings.

Roback grew up in Hollywood, California. He started a band called Rain Parade with his brother Steven. They first hit the scene in 1982 as part of a loose aggregate of psychedelic 1960s-influenced guitar bands in Los Angeles, and they were in the forefront of that movement which lasted a couple of years.

After Rain Parade's first album and tours, Roback left the band. He then became involved with ex-Dream Syndicate bassist Kendra Smith and formed a new band called Clay Allison in 1983. The recordings from the summer this year remained unreleased until the 1989 release of Opal Early Recordings.

After Clay Allison's 1984 tour, the band decided to go with a name change, and went from Clay Allison to Opal, whose sound was defined by Roback's spare, distorted guitar work and Smith's vocals. They released the Northern Line EP in 1985. SST Records signed Opal and released their album Happy Nightmare Baby on December 14, 1987. During the Opal tour in December 1987, Smith left the band. She was replaced by Sandoval, and they toured Europe through early 1988. Roback and Sandoval had an intimate relationship at this time and after Opal was disbanded, they took the remaining members of Opal and changed their name to Mazzy Star.

In 1999, Roback worked with Beth Orton. He produced and mixed some songs on her album Central Reservation. In 1990 he worked as producer for the band Sacred Miracle Cave.

Roback has been spending most of his time in Norway for the last five or six years. Different sources say that he's been working on material towards a new Mazzy Star album. He has also played a smaller part in the French movie Clean (2004) in which he played himself.

Additional musicians

The other contributors to Mazzy Star include:



Year Title Label
1990 She Hangs Brightly Capitol
1993 So Tonight That I Might See Capitol
1996 Among My Swan Capitol


Year Title Chart positions Album
U.S. Hot 100 U.S. Mod. Rock UK
1989 "Halah" 19 She Hangs Brightly
1990 "Blue Flower" 29
1994 "Fade into You" 44 3 48 So Tonight That I Might See
1995 "She's My Baby"
1996 "Flowers in December" 40 Among My Swan
"I've Been Let Down"


External links

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