Q&A Scene: Mandy Kane

Tell us about your EP & Album re-issue?

My debut album, ‘Tragic Daydreams’, was originally released in 2004. I was signed to a major label at the time and had the opportunity of traveling to Los Angeles to work with some incredible producers and musicians. However, over half of the recordings from LA were shelved and replaced with my home demo recordings, because at the time everyone involved in the project felt that we had been unable to recapture their initial DIY essence in the studio. I was never fully satisfied with the final release and so, over a decade later, I retrieved the archived LA sessions. ‘Tragic Daydreamed Reimagined’ features these alternate versions of the original tracks in a re-sequenced track listing, plus live audio and previously unreleased demos. A DVD comes bundled with the Deluxe Edition, which features music videos, live footage and more. I feel much more comfortable listening to ‘Tragic Daydreams Reimagined’ than the original release, although to me they are completely separate albums in their own right. I really enjoy listening to the performances from Joey Waronker (drums) and Justin Meldal-Johnsen (bass) on the LA sessions.

The EP, ‘Darkness & Divine’ is a much more emotionally driven release and the raw energy behind the recording process has translated well. I tracked the band with Woody Annison over a few days at Red Door Sounds in Collingwood and tracked the vocals semi-naked in a studio apartment during a blistering summer. Ryan Caesar from Pearls came in and played drums and then Woody slammed the mixes out – often on the same day that we recorded them and well into the A.M. The lyrics are honest and reflective of what I was experiencing at the time. Everyone involved worked and played hard. I’m really happy with this record.

Which song resonates most strongly and why?

I started out feeling that ‘Highway’ was the stand out from this new EP, because it’s about the journey which has brought me to this point. Someone once told me, ‘You have to go through Hell to get to Heaven’ and that has always stuck in my mind. Now I’ve come to feel that ‘Yin & Yang’ is the most accurate representation of who I am at this point in my life and so I used the lyric ‘Darkness & Divine’ as the title of the EP. I have come to understand the spiritual power that each of us has within and feel that the difference between ‘good’ and ‘evil’ is all relative. Everything is energy and it is there to be interacted with. My belief is that how you choose to harness that energy is your own decision and not for any other man to judge, so long as you are not wilfully preventing another living creature from enjoying its own experience of reality.

Any on the road anecdotes?

I’ve certainly experienced many ‘on the road’ moments which are etched permanently on the cubicle wall which houses my memory. The Manson shows were surreal. The support slots at each gig would inevitably disintegrate into a heated exchange with the front rows of general admission, hurling projectiles and insults back and forth from the stage into the mosh pit (remember when that was a thing?). Manson loved it because it caused the already angsty crowd to become absolutely rabid by the time he ripped into his set, so we got along famously. This, I was told, was a rite of passage and someone had to play the fall guy. Other highlights of that tour included destruction of property (not my fault), Absinthe hangovers, Manson lining up for a quarter-pounder at an outback Maccas in full regalia and a cautioning for public urination (not me). Later tours were equally devastating – I knew that I could expect great things the moment I saw members of Pre-Shrunk and Machine Gun Fellatio mooning my crew and I, their pale buttocks pressed firmly against the fragile glass of their Tarago while we traveled along some dusty highway toward a regional pub packed to the rafters with entertainment starved locals. Touring, in my experience, is never dull.

Where do you draw inspiration from?

I draw inspiration from a combination of personal experiences, emotions, dreams and current affairs. My dreams are incredibly vivid, to the point that they are sometimes indistinguishable from reality. They can be extremely positive and fantastical or disturbing enough to knock me off balance for days at a time. Nonetheless, they serve as excellent fodder for new material. When I demo songs, I will often have a TV set on with the sound muted playing static or grainy 80s horror / fantasy movies because it somehow allows me to place my music where I want it to be sonically. Staring into the static helps me slip into a trance-like state.

How would you describe your sound in food form and why? 

Imagine eating a bowl of fruit loops covered in milk and marvelling at the appealing rainbow of colours appearing before you, only to take a mouthful and discover that some of them are mouldy. That’s my sound.

What’s next for you?

I have a couple of projects lined up which I will be releasing next year. I’ve been out of action for so long, for various reasons, that I am hungry to create something new. I’ve also completed a couple of scores for short films in the past and this is something I would like to build upon. I really enjoy working with film. If I can will myself into a more consistently positive physical and psychological state I will also start to play shows again – I have some more work to do before that can happen.

What’s your scene?

My scene is one of absolute freedom, without the oppression of a war-mongering State and with each human being loving one another without limit or expectation.

 

 

mandykane01

Mandy Kane is an Australian recording artist and producer.

With a keen interest in music and theatre, Kane changed his name at the age of 18, started playing in high school rock bands and soon discovered the importance of songwriting and production. Consequently, he worked part-time jobs to save enough money to buy a 4-track recorder and filled his bedroom with various home recording equipment and instruments.

The songs that were produced during this period were inspired by visions of a vaudevillian fantasy world, somewhere between a John Waters pop trash epic and The Wizard of Oz. Kane would assume the role of the pathos-ridden protagonist; a Frankenstein’s monster assembled from the best of Charlie Chaplain and the worst of Stephen King’s ‘IT’. This concept was transformed into a DIY stage show, resplendent with a powerhouse glam-rock band, discarded department store mannequins for props, bubble machines and backing vocalists draped in feather boas. The show toured the dingiest taverns of Melbourne and as Kane’s profile increased he came to the attention of Mushroom Music Publishing, who were more interested in his songwriting ability than the theatrics.

Kane entered into a publishing agreement with Mushroom and, after inking a recording contract with Warner Music Australia, he embarked on a journey to Los Angeles to work with Grammy Award winning producers Joe Chiccarelli (Frank Zappa) and Chris Vrenna (NIN). The sessions featured Joey Waronker (drums) and Justin Meldal-Johnsen (bass) of Beck’s band, ‘Sultan of Synth’ Roger Manning Jr. and members of the LA Philharmonic Orchestra. Several months into recording, both Kane and his A&R team at Warner felt that the essence of the project had been lost in translation, with conflicting opinions regarding its overall direction and no budget to complete the work necessary to fully realise Kane’s initial vision. Many of the Los Angeles sessions were discarded and replaced with Kane’s original demo recordings, mixed by Tony Espie (The Avalanches).

In 2004, Kane released his debut LP ‘Tragic Daydreams’ which featured the single ‘STAB’. A live appearance of the track on Australia’s most popular prime-time variety show of that era, ‘Rove Live’, unleashed a make-up and mohawk wearing Kane on an unsuspecting national audience of over one million viewers. ‘STAB’ reached #18 in the ARIA charts and the singles ‘Billy Bones’ and ‘Stupid Friday’ both made the Top 40.

A baptism by fire saw Kane make his national touring debut supporting hard rock heavyweight Marilyn Manson. The pairing caused controversy given that Kane’s sound and image, although similarly theatrical, was not comparable to Manson’s more aggressive aesthetic. Kane responded to persistent heckling during his sets by goading the crowd of angsty teens into a heated frenzy in anticipation of their idol gracing the stage. This tactic was acknowledged and appreciated by Manson himself, as the artists amusedly discussed the absurdity of the situation backstage. The tour was a success, although it caused speculation among the press and general public as to where Kane belonged in the Australian musical landscape. ‘Mandy Kane is not Marilyn Manson, nor is he Trent Reznor (apart from the multi-instrumental and producer thing). Mandy Kane is one of a kind. His music is diverse, edgy and then melodic. “Tragic Daydreams” is, after all, his first release and, given a second chance, Kane might drift to a particular genre. But as it stands, “Tragic Daydreams” is a taste tester of different tunes that gives most something to like.(Catherine Hogan, Inpress, April 2004)

Subsequent tours with the likes of notorious party band Machine Gun Fellatio exposed Kane’s work to new regional markets, while at the same time exhausting his stamina and touring budget.

A change of management at Warner ultimately resulted in Kane parting company and forming his own independent label, through which he went on to release the Arts Victoria funded EP ‘Murder in The Daylight’, which was well received by critics. The title track was selected as a Finalist in the Billboard Song Contest and awarded an Honourable Mention. Van She Tech contributed their own, 90s electro inspired remix of the track, while Mess + Noise contributor Adrian Trajstman noted, “The EPs standout track, however, is the immediately accessible pop-punk tour de force Celebrity Roadkillwhich details Kanes antipathy towards his former goth-lite image and soul-crushing rituals that are part and parcel of being touted as the next big unit shifter.(Adrian Trajstman, Mess + Noise, 8 April 2006)

The EP also featured the single ‘(UK) Hanky Panky’, which was released as one of Australia’s first digital-only singles. Kane accepted an invitation to play at Toronto’s NXNE festival to promote the EP internationally, developing a one-man show which he performed at music hot-spot The Bagel. “He made the most of his surroundings and played an absolutely mesmerizing setKanes New Wave-influenced synth-pop may seem like too little too late now that electro-clash is a distant memory but he delivered the songs with such passion and intensity that it transcended any musical trends.(Andrew Horan, Scene and Heard)

Enjoying creative freedom in his newfound independence, Kane returned to Australia and continued to write and record new material in his home studio. One particular track titled ’25 Seconds’ garnered the attention of the ‘Godfather of Electronic Music’, Gary Numan, who completed a bone-crushing remix with production partner Ade Fenton. The remix was released in 2009 and continues to be played today by industrial, new wave and alternative club DJs in the UK and around the world. Popular music blog ‘Pretty Much Amazing’ wrote, ‘This is sort of what I wish the new Depeche Mode would sound like.(www.prettymuchamazing.com, 5 March 2009)

Later in 2009, Kane was recruited by Apple’s retail division and employed as a Creative, delivering workshops showcasing the brand’s music based software. One of his projects included assisting in the coordination of an exclusive in-store appearance by DJ Spooky (aka Paul Miller). He also commenced work on production of the debut album ‘Into The Night’ from indie band ‘Dancing Heals’, a project which was completed over twelve months. Kane accompanied the band on a tour of North America in 2010, which saw the band play to sold out venues as well as establishing international fans and industry contacts. The album was well received by reviewers and the public alike, with the single “Diamonds” enjoying five weeks of repeated rotation on Australia’s prime music video television program “Rage”. International audiences also responded favourably, with “Into The Night” debuting in the Top 20 specialty radio charts in the US.

After devoting several years to managing and developing other artists, Kane has momentarily returned his focus to his own creative endeavours.

His first release since 2009, Mandy Kane’s latest EP ‘Darkness & Divine’ is produced and mixed by Woody Annison (Children Collide / Black Cab).The EP is available through all major download and streaming services from 27th November 2015, with CD and 10″ hand-cut vinyl editions available via pre-order at http://www.mandykane.bandcamp.com from 13th November 2015. Purchasers of the 10″ vinyl or CD edition receive a bonus ‘lucky charm’ Yin & Yang pendant with their orders. 3 bonus tracks are included with the CD edition and every full EP download through Bandcamp.

Kane says his songs are inspired by a variety of rock icons from bygone eras – from David Bowie and Gary Numan to The Beatles and Pink Floyd, as well as contemporary artists such as Interpol, Aphex Twin, The Horrors, M83, The Flaming Lips, Radiohead and more.

 

“Undeniably talented and definitely unlike anything else in Australian music…” -Lauren McMenemy (The Advertiser)

About Mary Boukouvalas 1094 Articles
Mary is a photographer and a writer, specialising in music. She runs Rocklust.com where she endeavours to capture the passion of music in her photos whether it's live music photography, promotional band photos or portraits. She has photographed The Rolling Stones, KISS, Iggy Pop, AC/DC, Patti Smith, Joe Strummer, PULP, The Cult, The Damned, The Cure, Ian Brown, Interpol, MUDHONEY, The MELVINS, The Living End, Foo Fighters, Smashing Pumpkins, Rage Against The Machine, The Stone Roses –just to name a few - in Australia, USA, Europe and the Middle East. Her work has been published in Beat magazine, Rolling Stone magazine, Triple J magazine, The Age Newspaper, The Herald Sun, The Australian, Neos Kosmos, blistering.com, theaureview.com, noise11.com, music-news.com. She has a permanent photographic exhibition at The Corner Hotel in Richmond, Victoria Australia.

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