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Interview: Pamela Sue Mann
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
At five years of age, my mother started me with piano lessons. A very stern woman would come to my house once a week to teach scales and songs. I loved the songs. I did not love practicing the scales.
The scales to me were a means to help me make my own songs. I wrote my first song at five. “Spring is a lovely thing…when you hear the birdies sing, then you really know it’s spring” Something like that.
My older brothers had great taste in music and introduced me to the likes of Stevie Wonder, Pink Floyd, and early Cars.
I fell in love very deeply with music even more so from the age of 12 onwards and it is perhaps my best love.
If it weren’t for music perhaps I’d have had a short career in the ballet, become a sociologist, or else I might be a junkie.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
I write one-liners, phrases, poetry, imagine slapstick scenarios, observe the absurdity and hilarity of human existence on earth. I’ve always been dreamy, in my head, and my imagination is always playing with me, sometimes in amusing and euphoric ways, sometimes waxing melancholic. In fact, mostly I live in a waking dream. Sometimes at night I ponder the enormity of it all and pray for genial alien visitation.
When not occupied by these pursuits, I love profound conversations with my friends, and interviewing unique creative minds (NYRT). I love to grow things and to cook and eat the edible things I grow out on my city apartment balcony, and mostly to eat well-seasoned food and drink wine and cider. I love stories. Stories greatly influence the art I create. Life and love floods in often in song with lyrics conversing with me. Oh, and I am always writing unschooled poetry, constantly. I often send these unschooled poems to my besties, three besties in particular.
How long have you been making music?
I can honestly say I have been making music since the age of five, as demonstrated above. In short, I have been making music for many moons.
Where are you based and how did that influence your music?
I am currently based in NYC, LIC to be exact. We have an old train station with a slate roof and original ticket window, close to Woodstock New York. I go there whenever I can.
That is where the 1934 church Steinway is, where I have written many songs over the past several years. The juxtaposition of the city and country offers starkly unique perspectives and landscapes,
And these extremes offer speedy passage to our various Muses.
I love the waters of the East River, which actually is tidal, and part of the Long Island Sound body of seawater, I love the piers and the ripples of sunlight playing on waves and currents. Sidewalks inspire me, and the rhythm and hum of appliances, and industry. The wide-open spaces in upstate New York inspire expansive thinking, dreaming, and pondering the crazy and infinite night skies. The magical fireflies (fire faeries) on summer nights actually ARE magic, and the pale silent blues in mornings after ice storms are especially enchanted.
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
One year, after touring with The Real McCoy, I headlined a New Years show for a top radio station in Albany NY on freezing snow-filled evening, and the promoters added “Real McCoy” to my billing.
Needless to say the top 40 audience were very confused, expecting the band which I was never expecting, nor were my band.
We did win them over in the end. The only casualty was my winter puff coat, which was nicked. I rode home in a limo very confused and without my only winter coat.
Thanks to perseverance, many years later (and just before Covid 19) I toured with my Maniac Squat recording label (as a solo act) the release of my BREAK album, sharing the bill with icon Richard Strange and the Iggy Pop band.
The entire tour, with highlights in Liverpool, London, and Colchester church, was my favourite tour ever.
Opening recently (10 June) 1 for the great SPOOKY GHOST aka Gerry Leonard, Gordon Ramsey guesting, at Rockwood Music Hall, NYC, was my first show back since the pandemic, and we had the most magical transcendent night, and a beautiful and loving audience!
What is your favourite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
I loved playing for many years in NYC at the Living Room, Michael Dorf’s The Knitting Factory and I love the Rockwood Music Hall.
My dream is to play Sydney Opera House.
I love Water Rats in London, and I have always loved to play in churches in Europe and the UK!
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the lineup?
My dream fantasy line up at this moment would be…
Pamela Sue Mann, Fontaine’s DC, and either Thom Yorke and friends or Radiohead if at all humanly possible
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
And if you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
My advice to a young shy writer of words who wishes to become a performing and recording songwriter is to tune out the damning negative voices, record yourself and listen back. A lot. Constantly.
This will teach deep listening, and allow critique to inspire improvement. Find your unique and natural voice, in all facets of creation. Trust your instincts!
My advice to young artists and bands.
Don’t be lazy, or solely driven by fear or a desire to be liked by others
Never let others diminish your sense of self, and always know your voice should be unique, and can do good in the world.
Keep going and doing, and cultivate the art of finishing what you start with massive self-compassion, and humor when possible.
When ideas aren’t keepers we know it in our gut after a time.
Trust your instincts. Trust yourself to trust your instincts.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
INFINITY (DAY) (Off BREAK) is a song which topically means the most to me.
The chorus goes…”You and me, Infinity. Infinity, you and me”. That pretty much said it all.
(Currently, Pink Flamingos is the most fun song I’ve written, and quite often listening to it makes me dance)
What is your creative process for writing your music and what inspires you to write your music?
I’ve always been super dreamy. These days singing in a scene from a strongly visual imaginary film, with a vibe, a mood, a theme. A vignette expresses the subconscious, sometimes a movie, sometimes a skit. It’s always visual, textural, and driven by an urgent chorus melody.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
The big overarching message?
Love. Love of every kind, in its myriad of intricate specifics. Love is definitely the message.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
Right now, PinkFlamingos is on the brain, and in the heart, and in my Spotlight.
It’s just such a happy and queer celebration it’s difficult to see beyond that. I wish for everyone to dance like pink flamingos do in supermarkets across the world.
Just to do it. A lot.
In the next year, I am hoping for another U.K. tour, an Italian tour, a performance in my home town of Milford, Massachusetts, and DEFINITELY more NYC live performances.
Pink Flamingos is forming into a cohesive concept album as I write this, and will be fabulously available on vinyl as well. Yes, that is next I think.
Oh, and world peace, please✨