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Meth Math's Creamy Medieval Soup


Top Hat

April 23, 2024

Image by Kiyomi Morrison
Image by Kiyomi Morrison

Ángel Ballesteros picks up my FaceTime call. The majorelle blue, yellow, red, and gold layered rugs and floor pillows blur together as she hunts for a seat. Ángel, lead singer of the Mexico-based trio Meth Math, has wandered into a kitsch Moroccan-style cafe with WiFi to take our call. She is on her first full North American tour right now, and is catching a flight from Portland to Los Angeles in a few hours. 

The camera spins and Ángel and her co-producer To (Bonsai Babe) enter the frame. She introduces me to To and, in the same breath tells me about their morning. “So we are just walking around thrifting, and I just found the most awesome sweatshirt I’ve ever seen. It’s for skiing, and it has padded sleeves. It looks like something a princess would wear from an anime. And it has a spider on the back. So that’s what I’ve been doing. Finding the best sweatshirt ever,” she raves, high from her victory. I nod, noting a shared interest in Spyder’s active gear. I consider her confident, at-ease manner and intelligent, dark feline eyes for a moment before starting the interview.

Top Hat: What’s the most beautiful place you’ve ever traveled to?

ÁB: This is so hard... I feel like I’ve seen so many beautiful places. But, okay, I just went to Las Estates to camp. It’s this natural river that comes from the mountains… Or something. It’s just super green and super fresh. And you can chill there. It’s two hours from Mexico City in the state of Morelos. I think that’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve been recently. 

TH: Which of the five basic elements do you feel most connected to? 

ÁB: Water. Every time I go in water, I feel like I’m purifying myself. Once I had this dream. One of our songs is about it. I was a stone under a waterfall, and I felt the pressure of the water for a million years. I was a stone for a million years. I always think about that. I feel like maybe some of the elements of my body are parts of that stone. I feel like it’s more of a memory than a dream.

TH: If you could keep a sound bottled up in a vial, what noise would it be? 

ÁB: Oh my god, we are very, very watery right now. I’m thinking about the drop of water that makes a funny, cute noise. 

TH: [Makes *plink* noise]

ÁB: Yes… Wait, also, we were tripping, and we put a seven hour sound loop of soup bubbling. So maybe that would be the sound. The sound of a bubbling hot soup. A creamy, creamy soup. A medieval creamy stone soup. 

T: Also the crackling fire. I love that. 

ÁB: Yeah.

TH: What kind of familiar would you have?

T: A goat.

ÁB: A goat? That’s so… diabolico. I love it.

T: Baby goats are so cute.

ÁB: Ah yeah, a baby goat! Aw. I always thought mine was going to be a ferret or a cat. But actually, I just had a dream where two crows were waiting for me and they wanted to be adopted. And they were speaking to me so clearly, that now I think my familiar would be a pair of twin crows. 

TH: Oh! That’s so curious. Those are highly intelligent animals. They’re known to deliver messages from the spirit realm. 

ÁB: Oh my god. Ohhhh.

TH: They signify change, transformation, newness. 

ÁB: Something’s going to happen. 

TH: I think it’s safe to assume you enjoy transforming, at least from the photographs I’ve seen on social media and videos of your live performances. Colored wigs, freaky eye makeup. Do you feel like these different characters are hidden aspects of your personality? Or are they a way for you to embody something that you are not? 

ÁB: I feel that when I impersonate someone, I feel more comfortable being the person that I want to be. That’s how it started. But then, I realized - and it’s gonna sound very corny - but we do that every day, so it’s just a full circle. It’s just a human playing to be a human being playing… It’s a full circle, I feel that identity and ego disappears… and energy flows more freely.

TH: You seem spiritual. Are you religious?

ÁB: I’m more spiritual. I was raised very religiously. I think that made me very spiritual. I love religious stories and legends and how they try to translate life. And how they are kind of funny. 

TH: Do you have one you like best? 

ÁB: There are a lot of stories that I like….there are so many from the Bible. They are very catastrophic, funny and intense stories. Kill your son, and sacrifice your baby, and people are like, “Oh my god, amen,” [laughs] and it’s like “…what?” 

TH: I feel that in the music you make. It makes me want to dance. I feel like I’m being dragged into the underworld by a goblin, but I’m laughing the whole way down. It makes me want to throw my limbs around like daggers. 

ÁB: I love hearing that. 

TH: So, chaos…

ÁB: I feel that we can see chaos all the time, we are just observers in life. We are translating all of it, and I don’t think that’s going to stop. That chaos will never end as life goes on, I guess, until we find that peaceful state of mind…. But yeah. I don’t think that’s going to happen. I don’t want to find it, not yet. Maybe when I’m 70.

TH: Do you collect anything? 

ÁB: I’m a hoarder. To collects cats. He has like seven cats. They just come to his house and he feeds them and they stay forever.

T: I’m a cat lady.

ÁB: I collect so many things. For example, I have a lot of rings. I always get inspired by clothes, toys, plushies, books, art. Everything. I love trading art with my friends. I want to collect everything. Oh! And kitchenware! I love it. Every plate, every cup. I just want everything to look extremely cute. 

TH: If you could only keep one of your five senses, which would you keep?

ÁB: That’s so hard. I love watching things, I’m so visual. But, I have a very good sense of smell. I think it’s above average. All of my life I’ve been able to know when someone has been in a room from the way it smells. If I know someone, I’m able to recognize people’s personal smells. I can tell when something is good or bad. By smelling. I was the nose of my house [laughs]. But I don’t know if… I want to be like… not knowing anything and only smelling. Only smelling would be tricky. Well, yeah, maybe I’m down. I guess if I lose everything else I’ll just have a super nose. 

TH: What’s the last thing that spooked you? 

ÁB: Oh my god. This friend told me that they were fucking this person and then started having the worst luck. So he went to a witch and the witch was like, “Oh my god, you have a demon on yourself. You were fucking a demon.” And he was like what? And the witch asked him if he had a sexual partner right now and he was like yeah. And then she asked if he’d seen the face of that person in bed, and he told her that she always turned the lights off. The witch told him that you can know you’re fucking someone that has a demon if they like to turn the lights off, because their face transmutes. The face changes. 

TH: No, no, no. 

ÁB: I almost cried. He had to do a cleanse, this shamanic ritual to get the demon off. It was so intense.

TH: This is in Mexico?

ÁB: Yeah, I think it’s because there are a lot of portals there. So there’s a lot of demonic things happening, but also good things. I remember when I was young and in Catholic school, I asked about exorcisms. They told me that the closer you are to God, the closer you are to the devil. And I remember thinking that that was so scary, I didn’t want to be closer to God.

TH: I want you to name your top three favorite animals.

ÁB: Sloths, elephants, and… so hard. Cats, I guess. All felines. 

TH: So, the first animal represents who you want to be, the middle represents who you are, and the last is what you want in a lover. Some insight to your psyche.

ÁB: Oh my god. That’s so real. That’s me. I just want to chill and eat everyday. Ok. I want to be a sloth, I’m an elephant, and I want to marry a cheetah. Perfect. Well, now you know.

TH: Alright, last one. Let’s make a magic potion. What effect does your potion have?

ÁB: You know how we are programmed to judge ourselves since we were born? We were born free, but they punish us all the time. They tell us you have to be like this, and you have to stand up like this. I would make a potion to assassinate that judge inside our mind. Even if we deconstruct it and we know that that judge is there, it is still there. We need to ignore it, but it’s there. That mother fucker is there [evil laugh]. So just a potion to [makes a soft *pop* noise]. Imagine. Everyone would be so free.