Artist Interview: Mantracoda
Tell us about yourself and your music
I was born in Melbourne in ’73 and trained in classical violin and piano from the age of six. My father was a singer/songwriter, so I grew up listening to him play his originals and classic covers of legends both here in Australia and also in Europe when I was little. So I played in school orchestras and folk ensembles before teaching myself guitar and discovering my voice when I was around sixteen. From there I started playing in cover bands in and outside of school, including a great Santana cover band with fantastic Latin percussionists. I formed my first band when I was around twenty two called ‘Manifest’ and subsequently we recorded our first EP called ‘Hurricane Flame’. In this time my song writing became prolific and ranged through multiple genres with a focus on Hard Rock. After my band members went separate ways I decided to go solo, having around 100 or so originals and keen to take what I was creating to the World. So I packed my bags and headed for Western Europe where I worked and performed in Germany, Switzerland, France, London and Ireland which was such a transformative experience in so many ways, before returning to Oz. I played at a cultural event and attracted the attention of Canberra based Producer, Harvey Welsh. A week later I went back with his daughter to his home studio and commenced work on my first solo LP called ‘Songbook’. It took us around three months and the finished product was awesome. A true sonic journey and such an amazing experience all around. An EP off the LP got picked up by A&R Rep, Norman McCourt and featured in MIDEM – France & SXSW – Texas. For many years after that I wrote and performed around Australia until I met a flutist called Andrea Murray and together we formed the core of ‘Mantracoda’. Subsequently we have recorded an EP called ‘Soundunes’, an LP called ‘Door to Amaze’ at Dale Street Studios in Port Adelaide and we’re currently working on putting together a live LP of our performances in venues and Festivals around SA and beyond. My music has really been described as a musical and emotional journey that plays with many different styles and genres, yet with a folk, Bluesy, Rock based edge. I won the APRA ‘Songs of the City’ contest with two other outfits in Melbourne many moons ago and won the accolade of best emerging solo artist whose music is indicative of Melbourne as Bob Dylan’s is of New York. Now that blew me away 🙂
Talk to us more about your latest release
The latest release that we are working on is an EP called ‘The Gecko Project’ with a whole bunch of new material that I wrote this year inspired by our live performances, living in Semaphore and our creative adventurous life in general. The name was actually inspired by a luminous green gecko that used to hang out with us in our old historical hotel where we rehearsed, lived and recorded, five minutes walk from Semaphore beach. We began the basic recordings with Darren Mullan from Adelaide Recording Studio and also worked with Graham Burkin from SIDEFX on other recordings that we did in the ‘Lounge Sessions.’
What inspired you to write this release?
I wrote the songs for the latest EP this year and I love the vibe and depth that came out and how the music made me feel. I really always try to do something different and push the envelope and I guess inspiration comes regularly for me living in such a beautiful, multi-cultural and diverse part of Australia here in Semaphore. Being able to spend so much time on the beach is just so good for my songwriting in this stage in my life. It differs from writing in the forest, in cities, near rivers, in the desert or other environments because for me it has the essential flow, freedom and space that I need to be in my element. Help being a Piscean 🙂
Any plans to release a video?
Mantracoda has already released one music video for a song called ‘Holly’ off our ‘Door to Amaze’ LP and this clip was actually recorded around the Flute Players house in Semaphore. Steve O’Connor recorded that one for us. I’d totally love to have clips for all of my music and I’m currently working on cost effective ways of doing this.
Any plans to hit the road?
Definitively can’t wait to hit the road again. Hoping to do as many Interstate gigs as possible in the New Year and we’re currently planning an overseas tour at the moment for 2019. I think coastal gigs around SA and then down to Vic and back up the East Coast will be the go. We’d love to play the Nimbin Folk Festival and go further to other festival later on in 2017.
As an indie artist, how do you brand yourself and your music to stand out from the rest of the artists out there?
We’ve worked on our logo and our distinctive way for editing our photography is easily recognizable and indicative of our style. As far as we go, well we’re ‘Free Expressionists’ and our alternative, gypsy bohemian style is how we feel comfortable. Our music stands out because it is totally honest, passionate and real and we try avoid clichés like the plague. Also our influences are some pretty awesome groups and people and it shows in the music.
Who have you been listening to lately?
A lot of meditation music actually because this year has been crazy hectic
Tell us about your passions
The joy of creating and living each and every day to its fullest. I love to create, whether that be writing, painting, drawing, sculpting and of course music. I love people who think outside the square and I love talking with people about interesting things and places, things they’ve seen or thought. It really inspires me to learn more, grow more as a human being.
What else is happening next in your world?
I’ve got a couple of new songs that I’m working on that I want to develop. I mean when you’re creative there’s always something else to do or create. In the short term, I’m really excited about next year and taking the music to the next level 🙂
Thanks for an awesome interview, Jake!