Well hello there! It’s been a while since I last posted! I’ve still been playing music weekly during the Lyrical Venus Radio hour on KRUU, and I’ve also posted the occasional music video over on the Lyrical Venus tumblr, but I’m breaking this blog hiatus for a special 10 Questions interview with Mandy Fer of the Washington state rootsy folk and Americana duo that includes Mandy and Dave McGraw. They are coming to Cafe Paradiso in Fairfield, IA on Friday, November 29th, so if you need a little post-Thanksgiving entertainment, maybe try some tasty homegrown music?
Dave & Mandy have shared the stage with Lyrical Venus favorites such as Amy Speace, Cheryl Wheeler, Natalia Zukerman, and Lizzy Lehman, as well as some other amazing artists and bands I’ve seen at Cafe Paradiso or at folk festivals like Birds of Chicago, The Black Lillies, Carolina Chocolate Drops, David Wilcox, Gregory Alan Isakov, The Swell Season, Willy Porter, and many others.
Have a listen to their song “Slumbering Rose” while you check out Mandy’s answers to my 10 questions, plus a couple of those good ole bonus questions!
If you are reading elsewhere, you may need to come to the blog to see the video.
1) Do you remember writing your first song(s)? How does that compare to your songwriting process now?
I wrote my first song on the piano. It was a song about ants fighting aliens, and I think I was 6 years old….it was an instrumental one. How does that compare to my process now? The ants have been replaced by women and the aliens have been replaced by men, and well, there’s some other subjects inserted here and there…
2) Where is your favorite place to sing?
This spring we played at a festival in Europe called “A Small Town Music Walk” in Hoorn, Netherlands, and one of the venues was this giant old church, it was literally like a castle…we were set up on the balcony playing our guitars and singing (all unplugged) and the acoustics were eerily amazing… every note we would sing you could almost hear travel and bounce off all of the walls & stained glass in the building, it was a very out of body experience for sure. My second favorite place would probably be @ Evanston SPACE in Chicago or anywhere in Portland, OR– there is a certain magic to that city. Also anywhere in Flagstaff, AZ; our crowds there are always so warm and supportive. Seven Steps up in Spring Lake, MI is amazing too. Ok, the list is too long! Must stop now.
3) What’s the hardest thing about performing? What’s the best thing?
The hardest: Having to perform when you are sick/tired/ hungry. These things happen, because we are human, so you have to sing through it and be totally present with the moment so that the people who spent their hard-earned money to come out to your show don’t throw tomatoes at your face.
The best: Getting to meet new people, and the rush of totally opening your heart in a room full of strangers.
4) What things are you passionate about besides music?
Hiking, yoga, cooking, Spanish, poetry, running, woodstoves, family, orca whales, mountains, local/sustainable food, travel, tea, cheese, wine, sunsets, sea-kayaking, avocados, bourbon, smoothies, photography, full-moons, river rafting, peace, rivers & lakes & oceans, old movies, old jazz, and being good to each other.
5) What is one thing (besides your instruments) you can’t leave for tour without?
Can’t leave for tour without Dave (of course ). And Honey Loquat. This amazing, super-thick honey stuff is a lifesaver if we are ever sick or have a sore throat and have to power through a bunch of gigs. Just throw a tablespoon in with a cup of tea, and you are ready to go!
6) What is your favorite way to relax?
Currently, my favorite way to relax is to throw on the album “Heloise” by Line of Sky, and do yoga in the living room by the woodstove, looking out at the pond outside our window. Feel blessed every time I get to do this.
7) What are you most excited for with the tour?
This next tour coming up is a 10 week driving tour all the way from our little island here in the Pacific Northwest, all the way to the east coast and back via the midwest/south/southwest. Lots of miles ahead of us right now…for the first leg of this tour we will be teaming up with our good friends/cohorts Birds of Chicago and we’re very excited to share the stage with them again. They are wonderful musicians/people!
I’m also overjoyed to see lots of friends & family along the way as we travel, and to meet new people and create new relationships as we go..
8 ) Any new projects currently or on the horizon?
Currently writing new tunes for our next album which we hope to get in the studio for 2014. We’ll be touring our debut duo album ‘Seed of a Pine’ over the next 10 weeks on our coast to coast tour… we are excited to slip in some of our new tunes while on the road.
9) Do you have any pre-gig rituals that help you prepare for a show?
No, and I’ve always wished that I did. I’ve recently tried a trick my friend told me to lift my arms really high up in the air like a bear would lift its arms up to intimidate prey…supposedly this makes you brave and makes you feel strong. Which is always helpful before jumping on stage.
10) If you could create a musical super group with any artists, living or
dead, who would you choose and what would they play?
After some careful consideration: Jerry Garcia (guitar/vox), Ani Difranco (guitar/vox), Billie Holiday (vox), Levon Helm(drums/vox), Pat Metheny (electric guitar), Avishai Cohen (upright bass), Joe Craven (percussion), Ray Charles (piano). If that many talented singers/players came together, I think the world would implode… seeing all of these artists perform together would make me as happy as a pig in shit.
P.S. Am I allowed to be a part of this group? I would love to sing and play guitar with these folks. Oh man.
What’s your favorite sandwich?
Touchy subject. While on the road, I feel like we are constantly eating sandwiches so I like to avoid them when at all possible..but, that being said, I’d never turn down Jamon Serrano, Manchego cheese, roasted red peppers, arugula & lemon aioli on freshly baked sourdough bread.
What’s your favorite hot drink?
Herbal Tea—specifically Red tea right now—been drinking Trader Joe’s Organic Red Chai (with half & half of course)
Anything else you want to let people know!
I kept saying “we” throughout this interview and I guess I never explained that the we = Dave McGraw & I. Dave is such a phenomenal, innovative, and thoughtful musician/person. www.davemcgraw.net . Dave and I released our first album together in February of 2012. The two of us travel the world together and meet so many amazing people along the way! This world is full of so many wonderful people…and extraordinary musicians. Here’s some musical friends/acquaintances of ours you should check out if you haven’t already: Birds of Chicago, Peter Mulvey, Willy Porter, Abby Ahmad, Jenn Rawling & Basho Parks, Line of Sky, Anam Cara Dixon, Jared Rabin, Lizzy Lehman, Tina & Her Pony, Gregory Alan Isakov…and many, many more, too many to list! Thanks!