Sydney outfit Mansionair have had a pretty swift rise in the last couple of years, and after plenty of anticipation, their debut album is finally on the way. With a new single ‘Easier’ giving us an early taste of what to expect, we thought we’d have a chat to them about the track, their songwriting and all of their favourite gear.
“Easier is written for the moments you find yourself lying on your bed staring at the ceiling and wondering if things will change,” the band say. “It explores the endless piles of questions we can find ourselves asking those around us and the frustration of feeling like you’re going nowhere.”
They’ve definitely been heading places recently for their ‘Easier’ launch tour, and Queensland fans still have a chance to catch them on the final show at Woolly Mammoth on Friday December 9, as well as the Woodford Folk Festival on December 27.
BACK TO BASICS
“We’ve always aimed to be an electronic act that can strip back to piano and guitars if need be. It’s how most of our songs are written and how we work them up in the studio. A lot of the ‘bells and whistles’ in the production would be lost but the songs would still work if we went basic.”
“We started out a very electronic focused show. I was playing a small midi keyboard, an APC40 and a guitar. Alex was playing an SPD-SX. Jack was just singing. Very little acoustic elements.
“We’ve since moved to having Alex behind a full kit including his SPDSX. Jack and I play guitar and I have an Ableton rig, a NORD Stage 2, an Akai MPK249 and an OP1 with a few pedals.
“The evolution has been really gradual for us. Trying to add a new piece of gear every time we toured. It was something that was evolving as we spent more time writing and it’s now in a really flexible place where we can play new and old with the same gear while still being able to experiment.”
HITTING THE STUDIO
“We used to write exclusively in the studio and not consider live until the song was finished. It was only after playing a bunch of shows so that we started considering the live show a bit earlier in the process. It means we get to play demos and half-finished songs live and trial them out.
“When we’re in the studio we’re essentially using our live gear to write so the transition isn’t that difficult. The main challenge is constantly aiming to be as live as possible.”
BACK IN THE DAY
“The biggest thing for us back in the day was using Ableton Live. We were working almost exclusively in Ableton and it wasn’t until we starting recording our own instruments and finding more acoustic sounds that we really clicked sonically. All we had for a long time was a tiny midi controller and a laptop.”
GEAR VS SONG
“They kind of go hand in hand sometimes. Most of the time a strange sound sparks a song. The production on our songs ‘Hold Me Down’ and ‘Easier’ were made by finding a few weird sounds and building the track around that.”
“I like buying weird gear that makes unusual sounds rather than more well known synths/ pedals. My pedal board is mostly used for my OP1 and has a freeze pedal, a Cathedral reverb and a Vocoder. You get some weird sounds out of that combination.
“I’ve recently been playing around with these two pedals called the HEXE reVOLVER and the Red Panda Particle Delay. They’re both weird glitchy, pitch bending pedals that make some crazy sounds when you send every different type of instrument through it.
“The OP1 pops up on a lot of our music and so is a particular VST called the Synplant. It’s what makes a lot of our synth sounds.”