Fat Shan Reporter sits down with Haydn Mansell from "Our Man In Berlin" to ask him some pretty stock questions, with some quaint answers!
Who are you ?(be as vague or as detailed as you want)
I am a 20 something male who loves music above all else.
Give us a quick brief rundown of who you are musically and what you try and do differently.
I am a singer/songwriter/guitarist in a local group called ‘Our Man in Berlin’. My main focus as a songwriter is melody. I‘d like to think that people can whistle or sing along to our songs, whilst still appreciating them for being musically credible. I don’t really try and do anything with my music other than be honest, in the past I have tried to write a certain way, or even tried to do things in a way that could be considered ‘arty’ or different but that never works and always sounds a bit contrived. Most of the songs I have written that I am proud of have just sort of happened in a really natural way. A lot of things inspire me and it is at those moments of feeling inspired that song writing is most enjoyable and most truthful to myself as a person, so I really just wait on that feeling and write in those moments.
Who would be some key influences are that people wouldn’t expect?
I’m not sure that I have that many that you wouldn’t expect but here is a list of influences; Elliot Smith, Bob Dylan, The Panics, Radiohead, Blur, Oasis, Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver, Powderfinger, John Lennon, The Rolling Stones, Grizzly Bear, Elbow, coldplay, The Sleepy Jackson, Spoon, my mum, my brother Gareth, Cadel Evans, Wes Anderson, The Coen Brothers, the philosophy of Carl Rogers and much more.
In “Almost Famous” honour, “do you have to be sad to write a sad song, do you have to be in love to write a love song?”
I don’t think you have to be, some artists are very good at describing emotions without actually feeling them. This is not the case for me though; my songs are definitely focused on real emotions. I would find it hard to sing with any passion if the subject meant nothing to me.
What is your opinion on the current music scene in Perth?
I think that Perth music is very healthy at the moment. There are a lot of great bands kicking about and many different styles. There really is something for everybody. Probably the only negative I could think of with regards to Perth music is the ‘its not what you know, but who you know’ mentality that is very prominent. There are so many great musicians in Perth that don’t have the connections of some others, and as a result suffer.
If you had to put together your dream gig with any 5 bands from history + 5 local bands who would they be?
I like this question. I’m going to stick my band in there just because it would be a dream to play with these acts!
From history: Radiohead, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Elliot Smith, Blur.
Locals: Split seconds, Hang on st Christopher, timothy nelson and the infidels, reverse engine ear, and Our Man in Berlin.
Note I would have put the panics in if they still lived in Perth
What is the most annoying/difficult question to be asked in an interview?
Haha umm…. We are a pretty new band. This is my first interview.
What are your plans for the next 6 - 12 months
We are going to finally do some recording which will be great. It’s quite hard promoting yourself without any decent recordings, most of our demos were recorded on my I phone. Having said that we played at the bird recently and the sound engineer there Chris recorded our set. A couple of our songs turned out quite good on the live recording so that was nice.
On a personal note I’d like the next 6 months to bring some good health my way. I’ve been unwell for pretty much all of 2011 and am on the waiting list for an operation which should fix the problem. It has been quite difficult to get myself up for the gigs as part of my problem is constant fatigue, and a weakened immune system. However I love playing live and certainly wouldn’t stop gigging! I don’t often mention my health problems in the same breath as a conversation about my music as I don’t like the two to be linked. But I certainly look forward to the day when it’s all fixed and can just throw myself into my passions without the constant roadblocks that my health has put up. But you know there are many people with much bigger problems and that is something that I’m very aware of, I’ve even written a song about it called ‘heads on the ground’.