Words & photos by Amany Khreis
Photos edited by Lexi Spevacek
Mandy, Indiana is probably my favorite band to come out of this decade so far. With only one EP under their belt and their debut album coming out on May 19th of this year, they're on their way to be the next big thing out of Manchester. The band makes harsh, industrial dance music. Their lyrics are all in French. Back in March, I had the chance to speak to Mandy, Indiana while they were in the US for South By Southwest. They're elusive and undeniably talented. I met them at a famous taco chain in Austin called Torchy's Tacos, and we sat down for food and drinks to talk about their debut album. Tune in to hear about their creative process, why they're okay with being misunderstood by most people and how their live performances help them communicate with their listeners.
Transcript below edited for length and clarity:
Scott: Hi, I'm Scott.
Valentine: I'm Valentine.
Alex: I'm Alex.
Simon: I'm Simon.
Valentine: Right, so I've got one last bite..
All: [Indistinct mumbling and laughing]
Amany: So we were at your show last night. It was a very long day for us. And that was our last stop of the night. Was that, I think your first performance. How was that?
Valentine: Well, it's the first time we played in the US. And that was really exciting. It was also, I think, made a lot harder by the fact that we'd been up for about 25 hours. But honestly, you know what, it was really fun.
Amany: That's awesome! Yeah. And several more shows to go. That's exciting, that it's your first time playing in the US. Is it like your first time in the US at all?
Valentine: It is mine. Scott, you've been here. Alex, you lived in the US for about?
Alex: Yeah, I lived here for a year but haven't played gigs here or anything. So I think it's our first time playing the show again.
Amany: And speaking of playing shows in the US, I know the band announced a tour, but I think it's in Europe. Is there plans for a North American tour at all soon?
Valentine: Yeah, nothing concrete. I think the main issue at the moment is it's so expensive for European bands to tour in the US. So it's very much going to depend on that. You know, hopefully, we'll be back.
Scott: We've been offered some things as well, like supports for some kind of bigger artists. But the plan is yet to do our own. Maybe next year, after that comes out this year, probably next year. So yeah, not too far away.
Alex: We'll be back.
Amany: How long did it take to record? Because I know you guys put out an EP in 2021 and I was a big fan and I've been waiting for new music for a while. But yeah, I also heard that it was recorded in caves. How was that process like? How long did it take? What's it like recording in those weird locations?
Valentine: I think it took a while, but I think we started working on the album properly, probably in February 2022. After we came back from touring with a band that we know in the UK. It was Scott's kind of idea as well, to try and experiment with spaces and bring textures that you wouldn't be able to get from just recording in a studio. So that was a long process of trying to find places where we would be able to set up like a bunch of equipment. And, you know, places that wouldn't cost us five grand for half an hour. It was quite a long process. I think we finished the recording around June or July and then a lot of mixing, mastering. It's very long, making an album, I found.
Scott: Yeah, it was a bit… I don't know if it is unconventional, really. But we kind of just naturally were still writing it as it was being recorded. So it wasn't like we had rehearsed a bunch of songs as a band and we're just going somewhere to record it. It was kind of pieced together a bit more sort of just by reacting to the spaces that we were in. There were songs that were written after we were in the cave that were inspired by events that happened while we were there. Like this cave diver came up while we were recording the drums. He came up through this sort of pool in the cave and was like “What the hell's going on?” I was just like, oh, man, it'd be so interesting to hear it from his perspective, like coming up through the water and hearing this like drumming going on. So that kind of informed the opening of the album. It was interesting. The space contributed a lot more than just the kind of the sonic, like the sound of the record. It's like the actual way that it was written as well.
Amany: Yeah, and I know you guys did an interview with beats per minute, I think quite a while ago. And you mentioned that your project was new and how it felt good that there were no expectations really from Mandy, Indiana. Do you feel like there's more expectation now with like, what the band is especially now that you're putting out your first album? Do you feel like there's a more solid vision or influence or a place where you want to head towards?
Valentine: I mean, we started this band with the idea of trying to continue challenging ourselves and doing something that, as much as possible, hadn't been done before. And we're trying to experiment with a lot of what we do. So I think we're always trying to push ourselves to do something that isn't going to feel obvious, even for us and just taking it in different directions, but while keeping this kind of Mandy ethos at the heart of the project, which I hope is pretty obvious in the album because I think the sounds in it are very different to the EP, but still very much within the same kind of spirit. But I don't know if I'd say there is expectations. I think we're just trying to keep it fresh and trying to keep it interesting, and I don't think any of us wants to do this if it's just going through the motions, you know?
Scott: I think we know that the kind of music that we make is never going to crack into the mainstream. So the expectations are sort of managed by the kind of music that we make to a degree. It's not the easiest to listen to.
Valentine: We're not about to release a guitar album, as it turns out.
Scott: But it's great, because the album is just going to let people know who we are and how we sound a lot more. It's hard with an EP because I think there was only like three original songs on that and two remixes. So it's like a very, very small slice of what we can do.
Valentine: There's more songs on the album than we have written in total other than on the album. Yeah, it's a lot of new music, and it's a lot of things to explore and try and work with.
Scott: We've not gone back and like re-recorded the EP tracks and made them sound like album worthy like some bands do.