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Artist Highlight: Mandy, Indiana – Our Tradition


Mandy, Indiana is a Manchester-based experimental quartet composed of vocalist and lyricist Valentine Caulfield, guitarist and producer Scott Honest, synth participant Simon Catling, and drummer Alex MacDougall. Following a sequence of early recordings in 2019, the group launched their first EP, , in 2021. Treading the road between the playful and violent, the gathering balanced militaristic grooves with formless, visceral experimentation, paving the best way for the band’s debut full-length, i’ve seen a approach, out this Friday on Fireplace Discuss. They recorded elements of the album in weird, unconventional locales – screaming vocals in a procuring centre, reside drums in a cave within the West Nation. One session even happened in a Gothic crypt whereas a yoga class was underway simply above them, a kind of literal manifestation of their disruptive, even combative method to creating dissonance. However the actual battle is going on throughout the music, as Caulfield, singing in her native French, infuses the amorphous chaos that buzzes by way of the document with fiery intent. In marrying the unrelenting fury of post-punk with the intoxicating pulse of digital music, Mandy, Indiana trend a world of discomfort that pulls you additional within the extra you attempt to flip away, all whereas making certain the view they undertaking is not any extra grim than galvanizing.

We caught up with Mandy, Indiana’s Scott Honest for the most recent version of our Artist Highlight sequence to speak in regards to the origins of the undertaking, the method of recording i’ve seen a approach, its conflicting dynamics, and extra.

If not a message, is there a driving pressure behind Mandy, Indiana’s music that you really want individuals to have the ability to pin down? I believe a part of it’s communicated by way of Valentine’s lyrics, however there’s clearly a language barrier for those who don’t know French, and even then it’s fairly elusive.

There’s so much happening, I’m not gonna lie. Perhaps there isn’t a transparent message, as a result of I believe the music and the lyrics typically come from very totally different locations. We predict it’s a energy of our music is that it’s messy and it doesn’t fairly match collectively. We’re way more fascinated with exploring the unfamiliar and the unknown and stuff that doesn’t really feel comfy, in order that was sort of the driving pressure behind the artistic course of, simply attempting to get out of our consolation zone and do one thing that felt difficult. By way of the lyrics, there are undoubtedly robust opinions in regards to the state of the world, about inequality, however that very a lot comes from the non-public expertise of Valentine, so I can’t actually converse an excessive amount of to that. The lyrics all the time come second, so Valentine doesn’t write something in preparation for the music. It’s all the time as a response to the music, in order that’s the thread that pulls these issues collectively.

The music that I’ve written up to now earlier than I met Valentine was all the time very a lot centered on myself and wasn’t particularly collaborative, so what I discover actually thrilling about Mandy, Indiana is that technique of permitting someone the liberty to co-create. That’s a lot simpler to do when it really works nicely, and I believe that’s the factor, is that Valentine and I work nicely. Perhaps it’s simply probability, I don’t know the way it occurred actually. It simply began working, after which we have been like, “Let’s discover this additional and deeper.”

I do know you have been enjoying in several bands earlier than you met, however what struck you about Valentine’s method to music and efficiency, and what do you assume she noticed in what you have been doing?

It was that first present the place we met one another. She was enjoying in a band known as Maelk. They weren’t doing something that was particularly experimental – they have been a very good band, however the factor that struck me was that she sort of appeared like she was simply in her lounge, stress-free; she would simply sit down on the stage sometimes and he or she didn’t seem like she was in a venue in any respect, after which she’d simply stand up and casually stroll across the stage. It didn’t actually make sense with the band that she was enjoying with, to be sincere, and I believe that’s why it stood out to me. One of many later tracks that they did within the set was Valentine singing in French – the remainder of it was English – and that’s the second the place I went, “Wow, that is actually cool and fascinating. I ought to go and speak to her.” I don’t even know if I did speak to her, really, however my band was enjoying as nicely, and that was a two-piece. It was kind of a precursor to Mandy, Indiana – that was once I was getting plenty of these concepts and listening to music that was informing my style at the moment. So I believe she noticed that band and was like, “That is actually bizarre and fascinating.” And that was it. It’s simply noticing one thing about someone else, I suppose, and having the need to really attain out to them afterwards.

What excited you in regards to the potentialities of how that collaboration may play out?

I’d by no means actually had a undertaking the place it was tremendous collaborative. I believe different musicians used to become involved with me as a result of I wrote all the things and I used to be singing all the things and I used to be the driving pressure behind the band. So different musicians could be like, “Cool, this man is sort of doing all the things, we’ll simply come and do our factor.” With Valentine, it actually was a brand new expertise for me as a result of I’d by no means labored with anyone in that approach earlier than. It was like, “I’ve written this track, what do you assume? May you do one thing with it?” After which she’d be like, “Yeah, possibly,” after which go away for weeks and weeks and I wouldn’t hear something from her, after which I’d sort of prod her and go, “Did you do something?” And she or he was like, “Oh, no, I’ll do it now,” after which like an hour later she would ship me an concept, and it’s fucking wonderful. [laughs] So once I heard it again, it wasn’t like all experiences that I’d had earlier than of writing my very own music the place I used to be like, “Is it any good?” I used to be similar to, “She’s added her factor to this, and it’s made it wonderful.” I like what she’s finished to it, so I’m a fan of it. It’s so much more durable to try this if it’s simply you since you get inside your personal head and psych your self out about issues.

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The probabilities appeared limitless, and the truth that she was singing in French, which is her native language, kind of gave me permission to be barely extra obtuse. We solely thought we’d ever play exhibits in Manchester as nicely, we didn’t have any ambitions to play past that. We have been like, if we are able to play a pageant in Manchester, then we’ll have finished it, we’ve finished what we got down to do. Individuals in Manchester, most of them don’t converse French they usually’re most likely not going to grasp this, so possibly it doesn’t matter in the event that they don’t perceive the music, both. So let’s simply make the music as bizarre as we are able to – and it’s nonetheless not very bizarre, it’s nonetheless very a lot knowledgeable by common music. However I suppose it gave me company to go, we may be bizarre with this, as a result of it’s already kind of atypical.

Even with how limitless the probabilities appeared, have been you shocked in any respect on the path you ended up taking creatively?

All I may say is that I used to be shocked by how robust the album is. I didn’t know that we may make one thing that I might love as a lot as I do. I used to be considering, “I’m by no means going to love this, I’m too near it.” As a result of the EP was, I really feel, very a lot centered in a single explicit space of what we do, whereas the album embraced issues that we’d have been simply beginning to change into fascinated with after we did the EP. There have been seeds that have been being planted alongside the best way that actually flourished on the album in a stunning approach. I believe the stuff within the album is all the time attempting to look forwards as a substitute of trying again an excessive amount of. There’s undoubtedly some older influences on there, however we’ve all the time tried to take that and and put it alongside one thing new and totally different. I used to be like, “This simply may have been a foul mess. But it surely’s a very good mess. [laughs] A enjoyable mess.”

We spent plenty of the finances for the album on recording in these barely unconventional recording areas, and I believe for a debut album, it was an enormous swing. It may simply have backfired and resulted in a little bit of a catastrophe. However I all the time assume, in case your intentions are proper, then the thought is one of the best factor. It sort of doesn’t matter as a lot what it seems like if the thought is nice.

How a lot of an affect do you assume recording in these environments really ended up having on the ultimate product?

It has had an incredible affect on the document as a complete, as a result of we weren’t even finished writing it on the time that we went to document a few of these classes. Issues that occurred instantly influenced selections that have been made after we have been mixing it and producing it and writing the elements of it. I imply, going right into a cave, or particularly the cave that we went into, felt like happening to a different planet. It was this bizarre kind of Martian panorama, there was all this orange sand, then the partitions round us had this bizarre, purplish tint to them. It was so alien, and like with the opposite issues that we’re speaking about earlier than, it provides you permission to go exhausting. [laughs] It provides you permission to simply throw warning to the wind and be experimental and revel in it. There’s plenty of foolish qualities to the band members and the influences that we draw from, and the document is not only aggressive – there’s plenty of that, however there’s plenty of enjoyable in it as nicely.

This didn’t essentially affect the selections, however I bear in mind studying about Animal Collective and the way they made data. They’d take, like, paddling swimming pools and have these projections of dinosaurs and issues on the studio partitions. It’s similar to what youngsters would do. Having a bit discipline journey to a cave to go and document is only a enjoyable little journey, , in order that was actually liberating. I imply, it was nerve-racking that day within the cave as a result of we couldn’t hear something that we’re recording as a result of the reflections have been so loud. Even when we had headphones on, we couldn’t hear whereas it was being tracked, and we had such little time that we didn’t have time to pay attention again to what we recording both. I believe it was like an eight-hour day, and 5 or 6 hours have been loading in and loading out. So we had most likely about two hours to document in there, which isn’t plenty of time in any respect. By the point we obtained out, it’s very late, so we weren’t going again wherever to take heed to what we had recorded. It’s the subsequent day after we listened again, and we have been all exhausted. We’re like, “Oh, thank god, it sounds wonderful.” [laughs] That basically buoyed us for the remainder of the journey.

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There was even a cave diver that got here up by way of this pool within the cave whereas we have been recording and was like, “What the fuck is occurring?” The primary monitor on the album, ‘Love Theme’, that has this kind of filtered second the place it’s sort of like passing by way of water, and that was impressed by this man arising and discovering this drum package. I imply, it was so loud in there. You hit the snare, and it’d simply be like ear-splitting ranges of quantity, so I can solely think about the phobia that this cave diver should have felt as he got here up by way of the water and was listening to this cacophony. I actually wished to mimic that have in a reasonably kind of apparent approach.

Do you will have another favourite recollections from these discipline journeys which might be extra on the foolish aspect?

The clearest one which jumped straight to her thoughts is, we have been in a crypt beneath this church, and I used to be mainly given free rein with this loudspeaker and this microphone – I had my ear defenders in my ears as nicely that I take advantage of after we’re enjoying reside, so I may nonetheless hear all the things completely nicely, it was simply the amount was lowered. So we simply cranked this speaker as loud as we may, and I might stroll round on this house with the microphone simply pointing on the speaker after which transferring it off axes and getting all these totally different reflections, and it was wonderful. I did that for most likely about 15 to twenty minutes, simply wandering round doing this experiment and getting totally different sounds and rhythms with it. And after we lastly stopped, there’s this large banging off the door. I used to be like, “Holy shit, who’s that?” We went to open the door, and Isaac, this man that was recording with us, he was like, “Guys, I simply had a criticism from upstairs, as a result of apparently they’re doing a yoga and meditation class up there.” [laughs] So we’re like, “Oh shit, that’s hilarious.” However we didn’t do any extra. We have been very respectful.

There’s one thing about having music at these kinds of volumes – it does one thing to your physique. It’s too loud to take heed to for too lengthy, so it’s a must to have ear defenders on or one thing to avoid wasting your ears. However having that degree of noise, it simply strikes you in a bizarre approach. Some individuals won’t name it music, however I believe it’s very musical. There’s one thing actually affecting about simply the sound of suggestions and the rhythms that emerge from it. I used to be having a good time. I’d love to simply do a efficiency of that –  everyone is available in, and it’s like, “Simply so , you may need to put on ear defenders for this,” after which it’s simply loudspeakers, microphone. I imply, individuals have been doing that shit for years, it’s nothing new. However that was a enjoyable “I’ve been let off the leash” sort of reminiscence.

There’s a sort of conflicting dynamic between Valentine’s vocals and the noise that you just’re speaking about. It’s virtually like they’re in opposition, which is fascinating as a result of there’s this revolutionary bent to plenty of the lyrics. For you as a producer, the best way the music is staged, do you see the voice resisting in opposition to the chaos of the music, or is it virtually amplified by it? How do you see that relationship?

I believe that’s a very nice remark, that they’re in opposition with one another; Valentine’s voice, the defiance of it, comes from its try to try to drown out the music, or to rise above the noise. It’s not one thing that I thought-about, actually, after we have been we have been producing it. However plenty of it was simply going off that want to make one thing that felt unfamiliar. There wasn’t essentially plenty of thought if there was that sort of dynamic. I suppose once you’re mixing one thing, for those who’re doing a pop document, then it’s all about balancing the weather in order that you’ll be able to hear the vocal and that it cuts by way of. And with this it was like, we don’t have to fret about any of that. The voice may be drowned out, may be drenched in reverb, or distorted, and it doesn’t matter as a result of it’s simply one other ingredient. Perhaps it appears like there’s a battle typically as a result of it was handled when mixing prefer it was one other instrument.

Generally once you’re listening to a monitor, sure issues pull focus – usually a voice can do this due to the dynamics of it, however typically you pay attention right into a monitor and unexpectedly you’re like, “Oh shit, take heed to that snare.” One thing jumps out from the combination, and typically issues are simply within the background since you’re specializing in one thing else. However in our music, it may be something; it might be the vocal, it might be the drums, it might be a pattern.

Does that want for the unfamiliar ever conflict along with your sense of precision or consideration to craft, which I really feel are additionally necessary parts in your music?

I’ve all the time been unsure about my expertise as a producer. However I additionally couldn’t actually let anyone else get too concerned in it, as a result of I’m so choosy and the issues that I’m aiming for – usually once you do contain with individuals, they convey in issues from their very own expertise, and that is an experiment in attempting to intentionally go in opposition to what everyone knows collectively, or what we’re all influenced by. It’s attempting to simply tread its personal path, I suppose. However with this, there did come a time the place I used to be like, “I do know this stuff want extra consideration and extra craft, and I can’t do it myself.” In order that’s once I began getting different individuals concerned. We obtained Robin Stewart from Large Swan concerned to combine among the tracks that have been possibly a bit extra digital leaning, and Daniel Fox from Gilla Band to do stuff that was possibly a bit extra within the experimental and guitar-based world. And that was actually wonderful. Among the album I felt kind of comfy doing myself, however a few of it was like, “I don’t essentially possess the talents proper now to make the factor that I’m listening to in my head.” So it’s actually about getting someone that I knew may and speaking to them.

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Actually for this, I used to be a lot about, “Let’s embrace the chaos, let’s embrace the uncooked nature of issues, let’s not overproduce and never overthink and never spend an excessive amount of time.” However then I began spending an excessive amount of time, and I used to be like, “I’m too near this, I want to maneuver away from it. Let’s get someone else concerned.” So there was a little bit of a battle between embracing the chaos, but in addition having that degree of completion that it felt prefer it wanted. You possibly can work on one thing and actually hone it and craft it with out it changing into overproduced. However it may be troublesome, particularly when you get different individuals concerned, to keep up that degree of rawness.

I believe that dynamic intensifies on the very coronary heart of the album with ‘Mosaick’ and ‘The Driving Rain (18)’, which appear to supply totally different interpretations of Valentine’s phrases about order and wonder. How did you conceptualize that center portion of the document?

My favourite albums are those that work exhausting to attract you in, so there was all the time going to be repetition of themes and motifs, possibly extra akin to one thing like a rating or a soundtrack. It’s alleged to name again to issues and remind you of issues. And the extra time you spend with the document, the extra you discover that connective tissue that items issues collectively. We use construction sometimes, we use melody sometimes, we use extra apparent rhythms as a result of that makes the chaotic moments extra impactful. If the document was all noise, it is likely to be fatiguing – and that’s not essentially a foul factor, there are nice noise data are fully devoid of melody, that don’t have construction or kind, they usually’re wonderful. However we wished to tug parts of that and distinction them with parts of melody, stillness, calmness, as a result of we wished the extra aggressive moments to have that rather more weight due to it. We’ve tried to make a dynamic document that leads you on a little bit of a journey – as tacky as that sounds, that sort of is the purpose.

Due to that cinematic high quality and the sense of momentum that builds, I’m curious whether or not ‘Sensitivity Coaching’ is a track you have been tempted to stretch out for the finale.

I believe it’s alleged to be abrupt, actually, and it’s alleged to be primal. A whole lot of the tracks come from the a spot that’s extra feeling than the rest, and that appears like a really defiant observe to finish on. There’s a sure darkness and doom within the album, however we wished it to complete on a observe that felt optimistic and kind of galvanizing. In order that’s why you’ve obtained this, it might be like a march, or it might be something that unites individuals and offers them hope and offers them a driving pressure. That’s most likely the one which possibly speaks most to the lyrical themes that seem all through the document. It’s like, “Let’s not finish this album rocking backwards and forwards within the nook of a darkish room.” I believe there’s like 10 guitar tracks on that – we didn’t do this wherever else on the document. I don’t understand how we’re going to try this reside, or if we’ll have the ability to. There wouldn’t be any level doing it, until you can get a great deal of drummers and a great deal of guitarists all doing it collectively. Perhaps someday. However that’s what it’s alleged to be – it’s not only a four-piece band anymore, it’s a great deal of musicians.

Weirdly, that monitor was considerably influenced by – I don’t know for those who’ve seen Moana, the Disney movie. There’s a number of sounds on that soundtrack – there’s a name, and that’s proper at first of Moana. That was kind of what influenced this type of tribal name that occurs whereas Valentine’s singing within the background. It’s not referencing any kind of explicit tradition or tribe, it’s only a primal shout. It’s not a phrase, it’s not in any language. I believe it’s an optimistic monitor, nevertheless it’s nonetheless very grounded-feeling. It’s like, if you’d like these moments the place that actually amp individuals up, you will have reference issues that possibly aren’t all smiles and sunshine. So there’s like a shout influenced by Moana, however there are additionally darkish melodies which might be influenced by an artist like Coil. Once more, it’s a clashing of issues, it’s a coming collectively of issues that possibly shouldn’t work, and possibly don’t work. However possibly it’s okay that they don’t work.

This interview has been edited and condensed for readability and size.

Mandy, Indiana’s i’ve seen a approach is out Might 19 by way of Fireplace Discuss.



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