An interview with Mandyleigh StormMikey 24 comments
It was through my inquisitive nature that I discovered Mandyleigh. I'm not saying I'm the guy who discovered and made her famous, but rather I like to check out the web pages of our regular readers and see who they are. Mandyleigh was a diamond in the rough, and to my surprise also happened to a very talented Perth based singer song writer. Fancy that - right in my own backyard.
But a pleasant web site and celebrity status wasn't enough for me to initiate contact for an interview. I needed to hear Mandyleigh's music. And once I had I couldn't hit the keys fast enough. Upon hearing the free sample tracks, particularly 'Deep Sea Green' I knew this was someone I wanted to make contact with.
And luckily for us, Mandyleigh is an absolute delight. We put the word out to our subscribers to submit any questions they wanted to throw the songstress' direction. As per usual we put forward the best and most thoughtful of them. And I'm sure Mandyleigh would be more than happy to respond to any comments you may have.
Now sit back and enjoy the interview. Best served with a side dish of 'Fire & Snow' playing in the background.
- Tell us a little about you and your history
- How much time do you put into promoting yourself online, and are the results worth the effort?
- Which has worked out better for you - online sales figures or physical CD sales figures?
- What are your thoughts on music piracy, and is it a big a problem as the recording labels say it is?
- Some artists are releasing more music online for free or for near-free prices these days (think Radiohead and Trent Reznor). Do you think the success of these seemingly crazy business models can only work for artists who are already well established (those who can afford the risk)?
- Australian Idol - Good for young singers or just a platform for record companies to make a quick buck?
- Do you think the radio stations do enough to promote Australian artists?
- What would you change, if anything, about the Australian music industry?
- Do you think that, with the recent explosion of blogs and the ease in which they can be created and administered, that some record labels might put the onus on the artists to promote themselves? Or at the very least, assign a smaller budget for promotions?
- It seems common for artists to move away from Perth to benefit their careers (Eskimo Joe, AC/DC, INXS are some obvious examples). Is it possible to stay in Perth and be successful?
- Who would be in your dream team of artists (dead or alive) to work with?
- Who are your greatest influences?
- What do you get when you cross Mandyleigh with Radiohead?
- Any advice for young up and upcoming artists?
- Are there any up and coming artists we should be looking out for?
- What's in the pipeline for Mandyleigh now?
- Life, according to Mandyleigh Storm
Tell us a little about you and your history
I got into singing more so by listening to a very inspirational singer, Barbra Streisand. An old friend said, "Hey maybe you should go to singing lessons..." So, soon enough, I did. I sang all sorts of music, mainly inspired by a lot of my Dad's tastes. I loved singing the blues and jazz standards. My heart sill lies a lot there. I always wrote "words", to me it was just poetry-type writing to scribble down and then put away and pull out and read it every few months or years...
Gary came into my life (a songwriter himself) and soon told me to put the words to melodies... So I did. From that day forward both the melodies and lyrics would happen mostly at the same time. Gary and I wrote many songs together.
I was brought up with two very loving parents who would support me and my music career all the way through. The death of my "Uncle Tom" impacted my life quite severely and I faced many years of suicidal depression after that event.
I always had the support and care of my then boyfriend (my husband now) Gary, and we faced the worst years of the devastating illness that would rob me of everything.
I have had various duo's and bands over the years doing cover music and I have always enjoyed to perform and sing great songs but there is nothing like writing, singing, recording and performing my own music.
For many years Gary and I didn't have children as we wanted to give time to the music but most of it I was too ill to take any opportunities so the music floated in my dreams somewhere. I thought I had 'missed the boat' and that my time was over...
Gary and I decided to try for a baby when I came out of the depression and since we have had children, my career has taken off.
I want to let people know that dreams and ambitions don't have to leave you because you are slightly older than the "normal" that enters into the music industry. I feel I carry with me all the emotions and experience of my years and this colour goes much better into each of my songs. They will be much rawer and honest.
I want to educate some ignorant people that think that because people have children, their life is over... This is completely ridiculous. Of course children can make things a little tougher, but with a great support system, there are no "problems", only solutions.
I want to help give inspiration to anyone who had/has suicidal depression to never let go of life and to most definitely never let go of their dreams.
In November 2006 I uploaded a few demo songs onto Sellaband.com, where a lot of people funded me to the tune of $50,000 USD to record a pro album. I was the 7th artist to reach the target, and the first in Australia.
When I performed at the world-famous Paradiso in Amsterdam, Holland, I was approached by Tony Platt (producer of AC/DC, Bob Marley etc) and he introduced me to Mick Glossop (producer of Frank Zappa, Van Morrison, PIL, The Waterboys etc). Mick invited me back to London for a meeting. When we met again at his studio, I felt that he was the one to work with as he shared much of my vision for my album.
In late October 2007 I flew back to London and did 3 days of pre-production with Johnny Scott (musical director/guitarist for Van Morrison) on the songs that had been chosen.
Then we did 4 days of rehearsals as a full band. Mick had recruited James Lascelles (hammond organ/keyboards/moog/piano/percussion/dulcimer) who had recorded with Frank Zappa, as well as Liam Genockey (drums) and Tim Harries (bass), both of Steeleye Span.
Three days were booked at "Dean Street" studios in Soho, London. It's a very famous studio, where people like David Bowie have recorded. Because most studios have all been sub-divided, it was one of the only ones left which could accommodate a full band.
Most of the first day was spent just sitting around whilst Mick and the engineer set up the studio, sub-dividers and sound. We'd always planned to record this album just like they did in the 60's. All live with few over-dubs. We recorded each song in 1 to 4 takes. At about 8:30pm on the first day, we were eventually able to start recording. We recorded "Alive" and I naively thought that we would record it again a couple of times but Mick said that we had it "down" first time. Over the next two days we recorded the other nine songs.
How much time do you put into promoting yourself online, and are the results worth the effort?
With a young family I have become a pretty good juggler, so throughout the daytime (when at home) I find little snippets of time to be able to reply/write emails and messages to fans, whilst my two little girls are watching a movie (Justice League, Barbie or Spiderman), or indeed whilst I am breast-feeding my little 5 month old bub. I only need one hand to type. :)
I try to find a healthy balance of visiting MySpace/Facebook and all the other web sites where I have profiles without being glued to the pc. It can be easy to lose quite a lot of time when sitting at the computer, especially of a night time after the babes have all gone to bed. I also need to have and spend time with my husband too. Lately It's been super busy rehearsing with my band for gigs (5th of November at the Hyde Park Hotel, Perth is the 1st one).
At the moment a lot of my free time is spent on thesixtyone.com . I absolutely love it. Sellaband (my label) has become a place now where I spend a lot less time as I make myself known to the rest of the worlds ears...
Just connecting with people and being able to share the music is key.
Which has worked out better for you - online sales figures or physical CD sales figures?
People have the choice to download the album (mp3's), order it online or buy it in a store. It's online at all the major outlets (iTunes, Amazon, Amazon.co.uk, Rhapsody etc), and also in stores throughout Europe (and independent stores in Perth). From what I've been told, people seem to prefer the physical cd by far, especially the limited edition. I would have to agree.... I love having the proper cd around and hold the booklet of anything I buy. Replay Records in Kenwick have had to order a lot more as they have nearly sold out of their first batch.
What are your thoughts on music piracy, and is it a big a problem as the recording labels say it is?
I am still a big believer that most people (and I am one of them), if they like an artist/band, they will want to buy the physical cd. It's all about holding the actual album in your hand, having the artwork and booklet to look at. People can download 3 free songs from "Fire & Snow", listen to the rest and buy it if they like it enough, or just buy the tracks they like for 50c each.
Of course piracy a problem to many artists, every artist, and it's a lot easier (and sounds better) than when people used to tape from vinyl, but what can be done? There will always be broken rules but as long as some people do the right thing in the world then that is cool. Musicians like to eat too :)
Some artists are releasing more music online for free or for near-free prices these days (think Radiohead and Trent Reznor). Do you think the success of these seemingly crazy business models can only work for artists who are already well established (those who can afford the risk)?
These are already very well established (and wealthy) artists that can take risks. They have a huge following. Some of us don't have that choice really if we do want to have some sort of income from music. There are plenty of artists who already give away their whole albums for free, but you would never have heard of them, as they (like me) don't have the kind of marketing money to let you know about them. I have 3 free mp3s and then the rest of my album to download is $3.50. I feel we all have to be enticed. We all do what we can to get the word out, but it cost me a lot of time and money over the years, so I can't just give away everything I've sweated for. Like I said before, musicians like to eat too. I have three kids to feed :)
Australian Idol - Good for young singers or just a platform for record companies to make a quick buck?
I have never believed in these sort of things. I feel for aspiring artists who are very talented it can be very damaging if you don't have a thick skin to survive all of the comments said by the 'judges'. For some it may be good and that is their choice, but for others, no way.
Do you think the radio stations do enough to promote Australian artists?
I don't. I feel that they don't really take enough notice of local artists especially. If you are "unknown" then It's hard to get on there, but how can you get "known" when you aren't? A good producer and DJ would make sure to put on quality artists. Are there many about? My guess is that there aren't.
What would you change, if anything, about the Australian music industry?
I think It's time to allow much of the newer artists to come in. We have heard so much of the old (especially) 80's bands. In Perth the commercial radio stations are in a time-warp. They play the same songs now, that they played in the 80's. It was great music but it's overkill. Now It's time for new blood to come through and rock the scene a bit.
Do you think that, with the recent explosion of blogs and the ease in which they can be created and administered, that some record labels might put the onus on the artists to promote themselves? Or at the very least, assign a smaller budget for promotions?
The internet has definitely made things a lot easier (getting the word out), but it's still a case of spending a decent amount of money to let people know you exist. Sellaband have never been able to do that, so in my case the onus (in Australia especially as Sellaband are concentrating on Europe/America) is on me to do whatever I can. It still comes back to the band having to get out there and work their arses off and build a following. You can have the greatest web site (and music) on earth, but if nobody knows you exist...
It seems common for artists to move away from Perth to benefit their careers (Eskimo Joe, AC/DC, INXS are some obvious examples). Is it possible to stay in Perth and be successful?
I think to a point It's fine but beyond that point an artist/band must move overseas to further their horizons generally, but then saying that, the internet is a very powerful thing.
Who would be in your dream team of artists (dead or alive) to work with?
Definitely John Lennon, Janis Joplin, Nina Simone, Jackie Wilson, Seal, Nick Drake, Jeff Buckley, The Who, Led Zeppelin, Sarah Vaughn, Barbra Streisand, Coldplay & Jamiroquai.
Who are your greatest influences?
John Lennon, Nick Drake, Seal, Nina Simone, The Beatles, Jackie Wilson, Jeff Buckley, George Michael, Annie Lennox, Barbra Streisand & Janis Joplin.
What do you get when you cross Mandyleigh with Radiohead?
A very "creepy" mix of organic trees with soul, substance and power. :)
Any advice for young up and upcoming artists?
Why "young" artists? Any artist with talent deserves a real chance. The world is full of young, old, big, little and indifferent people... For what we all are surely there is something we all connect with whether an artist is young or old...
With age can bring much richer wine... :)
Be true to yourself always, until the end.
Keep away from d*ckheads.
Be true to your songs. Go with what "feels" right for them.
Surround yourself with only the right people who can enhance and add/pour colour into what you already have.
Keep away from d*ckheads.
Believe in yourself.
Stay strong and keep away from d*ckheads.
Get some knowledge about the logistics of the music industry.
Never give up and believe in dreams.
Did I mention keep away from d*ckheads? The music industry is full of them.
Are there any up and coming artists we should be looking out for?
Me? lol. It all depends on your musical tastes. Check out www.Sellaband.com and thesixtyone.com and hear for yourself. I've discovered many amazing artists and songs (many you can download for free) on both those sites.
What's in the pipeline for Mandyleigh now?
- rehearse & gig.
- Prepare for a tour of Australia, Europe and maybe even America or Canada.
- Write new songs with the band for the next album.
- A 3d animated music video is in production soon, by a team in the UK.
- Some other things I have to keep secret, but keep an eye out for me :)
Life, according to Mandyleigh Storm
Adversity can always make clearer and brighter colours, your road to strength, happiness and fulfillment. Appreciate every day, everything and everyone in it that helps to make you feel exactly that...
Thank-you so much Michael and the Rusty-Limers, I have really enjoyed myself answering these questions. Be Bad and love you all. You know where you can find me again. :)
PS I've created an exclusive rusty-lime place where you can download some of my non-album songs (a bit of a mixture). Hope you like them :) www.Mandyleigh.com/rustylime/