Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Women Who Rock Wednesday: Mandi Perkins

Before I launch into the Women Who Rock Wednesday interview, I just wanted to give you some links of where you can find me being interviewed by my rocking Girlfriend Cyber Circuit pals. I’m at Linda Gerber’s blog talking about the songs that would make up my life’s playlist among other things. At April’s Henry’s blog, I talk about scary things, mysteries and wax nostalgic for my goth days and at Sara Hantz’s blog, I’m talking writing process. So check these out of you are interested, but now on to the main event: Women Who Rock Wednesday!!!

Welcome to the second installment of Women Who Rock Wednesday featuring Mandi Perkins!!! Of course, first things first, I need to announce the winner of last week’s contest. *Drum roll* tetewa from blogger you are the winner of Carrie Borzillo-Vrenna’s Cherry Bomb! Please send me an email at stephanie at stephaniekuehnert dot come with your address and I’ll send it on to Carrie so you get your signed copy!

Now if you weren’t here last week, you may be wondering what WWR Weds is all about. Basically it’s my way of supporting my fellow female artist, getting the word out about women who I think rock, and sharing the fabulous things they do with you. I also highly encourage suggestions for future WWRs to feature because I love discovering new talent. My WWR for this week is a new talent who was suggested to me.

Mandi Perkins has her major label debut Alice in No Man’s Land out now. As you know, usually I’m a punk rocker, but I’m also a huge Tori Amos fan and love a female singer with a beautiful voice. That’s Mandi. She’s an extremely talented, very real singer-songwriter who’s true to herself and her songs. I think many of you will enjoy her. As you’ll see below, she doesn’t like to be put into a box and I don’t think her music can be labeled, so just check her out. Go to her website or MySpace and cue up some of her tunes while you enjoy this short interview with her. If you like what you hear, you’ll want to leave a comment because you will be entered to win your very own copy of Alice in No Man’s Land!

Q: Hi Mandi, I'm thrilled to have you on Women Who Rock Wednesday, a blog dedicated to getting the word out about female musicians, authors, artists, filmmakers, clothing designers—basically any amazing women—who truly rock and the world should know about. Your music is new to me and probably to a lot of my readers, so can you start out by telling us a little about your musical background? When did you start singing and playing music and who were some of your mentors? For example, did you come from a musically inclined family, learn from friends or a teacher or are you self-taught? Who are some of the musicians out there that you have long admired? We'd especially like to hear about some of the women who you think rock and who inspire you to do what you do.

Mandi: I began singing and writing songs when I was super young. I can still remember the first piece of music I wrote when I was 4 called, “Come Along With Me.” It only had 4 lines, but the tune was damn catchy (!) and I have been writing ever since then. Music has been such an integral part of my life that I usually experience childhood memories as images paired with songs.

My first collection of music was given to me by older brother and it consisted of a lot of rock from bands like The Police, The Beatles, Pink Floyd and The Who. His music blended in an interesting way with my mom’s collection of golden oldies. When I was about 7, Gene Pitney and Led Zeppelin would get all jumbled in my head. Even though I’m sure I must have been a bit confused, it opened my ears to a wide variety of styles and to this day I still have eclectic tastes.

When I started choosing my own music, I got into Stevie Nicks, (Fleetwood Mac), Joni Mitchell, Janis Joplin, Indigo Girls and Tori Amos. Basically I started to love singer /songwriters who sang from the soul and wrote what was real to them.

Q: Your major label debut, Alice in No Man's Land, (great title, BTW, the play on words reminds me a little bit of Liz Phair's Exile in Guyville) came out on August 5th. Tell us about your favorite tracks on the album. I know it's hard to choose favorites, so if you can't, just brag about those awesome riffs and lyrics that you're proud of and think we will love!

Mandi: I love my album. I am truly very proud of it. My favorites to sing live are “Everybody Knows,” “Why Pretend,” and the title track, “Alice in No Man’s Land,” but I think there is something on there for everyone.

Q: I grew up listening to bands like Hole, L7, and Bikini Kill, who were outspoken about the sexism they encountered in the industry from executives who didn't take them seriously because they were female to guys in the crowd yelling "show us your tits!" Have you encountered any road blocks or felt mistreated because you're a woman out there rocking? How do you handle this stuff?

Mandi: It is definitely hard to be a female in the rock genre. I would go into meetings with music execs and they would look at me and tell me where I fit in and where I could go. I heard a lot of Avril and Jewel comparisons, which was complimentary, but not accurate. It’s hard when you get judged or put into a box because some people can’t open their minds. I don’t write music where I guy bash and I don’t write about cherries and sparkle. I write what I see around me. I write the truth, I write what is real and since reality isn’t always pretty, performing with too much sheen isn’t my style. I never wanted to dull the raw part. I truly feel that juxtaposition is genius. Meaning… I might look a certain way, but that doesn’t mean I don’t see ugly things or have ugly thoughts. I don’t want to write or sing in a specific style because that is what is expected of me. Beyond the industry, its also club bookers and promoters that sometimes don’t get female fronted rock bands. They put you on with other acts that are completely different (like acoustic folk artists) just because all the singers are female. It makes no sense and it’s the biggest hurdle I’ve had to overcome.

Q: A large part of my audience is teen girls, and many of them are aspiring musicians. Can you offer them any advice on how to become a Woman Who Rocks or maybe just how to survive high school when you're a creative person?

Mandi: Stay in school. Best advice ever! No matter what you want to do in the future, an education is a vital asset and it can never be taken away. Even if you study something seemingly unconnected to your future goals, it will still enhance your life. Besides that, always speaking your mind is key, regardless of how unpopular your opinion might be at the time. Don’t let anyone shut you down or tell you that you can’t do something. One of my favorite parts on, “Alice,” is from the title track in the bridge where I sing, “Don’t let them change you, or rearrange you/a pool of tears will rain down on you/when they find you/they’ll remind you/of everything you’ll never be to them.” The point is, you shouldn’t care what they expect of you, you should be yourself. If you work really hard and believe in yourself and what you are doing, then you can achieve something great.

Q: The following two questions are the ones I always ask my Women Who Rock. What was the first album you bought and the first concert you attended? Be honest even if you're embarrassed (in fact we like those stories best because it reminds us that we all have our uncool moments).

Mandi: The first music I ever bought was Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” album and the first concert I ever saw was a Madonna concert in Toronto with my Aunt. Talk about strong female artists. She is the ultimate business machine.

Q: So far (because I'm sure there will be many more to come), what was the moment where you felt most like a rock star? Could be a concert you played or one you attended. Could be meeting someone famous and having that "I'm Not Worthy!" Wayne's World moment? Could just be a time you felt you got the real rock star treatment.

Mandi: The first time I felt like a rock star was at a show I did in Las Vegas for mobile phone corporations. The band and I got put up in our own luxury suites with limos taking us everywhere. The rooms were bigger then my apartment. I liked it. A lot

Thanks so much for joining us on Women Who Rock Wednesday, Mandi! It was a lot of fun to learn more about you and your music. Now I’m sure everyone is pumped to get a copy of Alice in No Man’s Land and you can enter to win it here just by leaving a comment. Reflect on what Mandi said, suggest more women who rock, or say anything you want! I will draw a winner next Wednesday when I’ll be featuring one of my new favorite writers, Rebecca Woolf, author of the rock ‘n’ roll mama memoir Rockabye: From Wild to Child and the fabulous Girls Gone Child blog!


Anonymous said...

Mandi herself pointed me in the direction of your website and I loved the interview with her.
If you could another person I think who rocks is Landon.

Stephanie Kuehnert said...

I'm glad you enjoyed it Marie! And I'll have to check out Landon.

Anonymous said...

I found Mandi while looking through an artist list on myspace. Not really sure what about Mandi caught my eye but I'm glad it did. I loved all of the songs that I heard. Mandi is very talented with an amazing voice. I encourage everyone to take a look at her websites.

Rain said...

Thanks for the great read. Mandi Perkins Rocks!!

Kyle said...

Great interview! She does rock, I previewed her songs on itunes and wow she has an AMAZING voice!

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