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Saturday, February 24th
The Hot Sweat
Hana Pestle
College graduate, law school graduate and recording artist? Mandi Perkins may be new on the seen but she can definitely knock people off of their feet with killer lyrics and an amazing voice. Native of Toronto, Canada, Mandi has been living in Los Angeles, California for the past six years. Her album Alice In No Man's Land recently came out. With over 2,000,000 MySpace views, I would definitely say this artist is worth checking out. Not only is she an amazing artist, shes also got a great personality.

So can you introduce yourself?
Mandi:My name is Mandi Perkins.

Spencer:How long have you been singing for?
Mandi:I've been singing since I was 5.

Spencer:When did you know that you wanted singing to be your career?
Mandi:Since I was probably 5.

How did you get signed to your label?Wait, you are signed right?
I am signed. I released a record independently about, um, in 2007. And the day after I released it I got a bunch of calls and I met with my current label and they were awesome. And they said, you know they were going to just help me get some

Spencer:Where do you look for inspiration in writing your songs?
Mandi:Well usually I, when I'm upset or angry thats when I go write. So I don't necessarily know if it's going to be a song or not but I'll go write something down. Sometimes a lyric forms, sometimes not and it usually is inspired by people doing like really weird things or crappy things. And it makes me think, and I'll go write it down. Instead of telling them cause you can't always tell people, especially people you're close to, you can't tell them when they're a jackass sometimes.
Spencer: Right.
Mandi:So if I go write it down, then I can make it into a song. So I'm usually inspired by life. The weird, not so pretty parts of life. I don't tend to write when I'm happy or about beautiful flowers and rainbows and stuff.

Spencer:What instruments can you play?
Mandi:I play the guitar.
Spencer:And how long have you been playing that for?
Mandi:I've been playing guitar for.. I don't know I think about 4 years. I usually write, you know, when I do write chords down, or when something inspires me to start writing, sometimes I'll pick up a guitar and you know, pull out a few chords and then write the lyrics to that. So thats where it's usually played and I also play it acoustically, for acoustic showcases. So, I'm not very proficient I would not call myself a genius guitar player, by any stretch of the imagination. But I'm proficient enough to write songs on it.
Spencer:Did you teach yourself or did you get lessons?
Mandi:I did teach myself. I've never really had music lessons period. I don't know, its kind of an innate thing. I've had a lot of schooling. I went to college, I went to law school after that and just recently graduated. I've had a lot of that kinda schooling, but the actual musical part of it, has just kinda always been there and listening to other artists, people I really admire and respect, and then it just goes from there. I don't know what it is. I love school, I love learning, I love books, but when it comes to learning music, I don't know, I'm not necessarily that kind of artist.

Who are some of the artists that have inspired you, that you look up to?
Mandi:Well, I really love singer/songwriters that write the truth, the way you see the way you see it. So people that write just that are real, that write as real as they can get. You know like Stevie Knicks, Sting from The Police, Adam Duritz from Counting Crows, just like honest, rich, true, performers that have to write and you just listen to it and it makes you feel better.
Spencer:Thats cool.
Mandi:Thank you.

Spencer:Whats your favorite song to perform live?
Mandi:My favorite songs, I'm gonna give this one an even tie, I say, I love the one "Everybody Knows" because I just feel that song so much, I remember exactly where I was when I wrote that song, and every time I sing it I think about the person I wrote it about. And I love the song "Why Pretend" it's so high energy and we can stretch out "Why Pretend" from its 3 1/2 minute form on the record to a good 8 to 10 minutes of just solid energetic rock jamming.
Spencer:That's sick, that is awesome.
Mandi:Yeah it's very very fun live. People really respond to it.
Spencer:Yeah thats one of the songs that I like the best too.
Mandi:Nice, thank you.

Spencer:Do you like larger venues and audiences or smaller?
Mandi:Well the thing is I can not wait to play stadiums, last night I went to see the Augustana, Counting Crows, and Maroon 5 concert last night in the OC and it was just like the most amazing experience, I mean it was packed they're three popular bands. But just like the whole atmosphere and the life and the energy and people just going crazy and I can't wait to do that. But I have to be honest, to me it doesn't matter if theres 5 people in the audience or if theres 5,000 or hopefully one day it's 50,000 because I give the same performance. I don't think theres a point to performing with anything less than everything. You know, why, why would you ever? It's such a gift to be able to perform as it is than to give anything less would be, you know, I think it'd be a waste. A waste of time, and a waste of life to do that. So it doesn't matter to me, I just really wanna play stadiums.
Spencer:Thats cool.
Mandi:Yeah. This is a call-out to anybody that wants to take me on tour to play big stadium shows.*laughs*I mean it. And I'm taking Spencer! I'm taking Spencer out of Cleveland, Ohio.
Mandi:Oh dude, you will love, we can go rage.

That would be sick I would love that. How does it make you feel when people say that you're music is so relatable and pulls listeners in?
Mandi:I think thats amazing. You know, for this first record, cause this is my debut album, I was really going for a really palatable, easy to listen to record that everyone could put on and wouldn't really be offensive to the ears because some of the lyrics, they're pretty hard to hear. And they're really raw, they're very real, and I wanted to put them in this atmosphere that would be really non-intrusive, that would be really comforting, and when people tell me that they can relate to the song, I mean, thats like my goal. I'm not an artist because I want big mansions or have diamond rings, I'm literally doing this because I think that I have had a lot of crap go on and I think that I can communicate it in a way that other people can understand and it makes them feel better. And that's why I'm doing it, because I wanna relate to people and I wanna make musical empathy. So thats the best compliment anyone can give me in the world.

Spencer:Do you have any advice for people who might be trying to break into the music scene themselves?
Mandi:Well, my advice would be, for sure, is that they should stay in school. If they haven't gone, you know, they should go to college if they can. And just stay in school. Even if the degree is not in something that they are gonna use, I mean, even if you wanna be a model, or an actress, or a singer, or anything like that if you wanna get into the industry, it's so good to have an underlying understanding of who you are and how to communicate and how to feel rejection and acceptance. It never hurt anybody to have an education. And no one can take it away from you so. I think that people should stay in school and if they believe in themselves they can make it happen, like, you just have to believe, cause it gets really hard. People will tell you no, they'll tell you that you suck, they'll be jealous of you, so they'll really tell you that you suck. They'll say mean things, they'll say you're to old, you're to young, you're to fat, you're to thin, you're to pretty, you're to ugly, whatever. And everybody's got an opinion and you just have to believe in yourself. And try to get out of that. You have to be really tenacious and not let anybody tear you down cause they'll try. And that's how most people, most people don't not succeed, that was a double negative I just gave, most people, let me see how I can say this, the people that succeed, for the most part, are probably not the most talented, they're not the prettiest, they're probably the most hardworking, the most tenacious, because when you don't succeed then you really have a gift and you don't succeed, most the time its because you let somebody tell you that you couldn't do it. And to not succeed because somebody else telling you that is terrible! So you just gotta go out and do it and make it work. Because it'll work if you believe. But you have to stay in school! It coincides with what you wanna do in the industry.
Spencer:So like, whatever you learn in school, you can relate back to the industry in someway?
Mandi:Well,you know, I was an english/lit major, so I definitely, in college it was all about being subjective, I went to Berkley,  and it was about being subjective, and about how does this thing make you feel, how does this tree relate to me? And then when I went to law school immediately after, where you learn how to be objective, and how to see things for what they are, and usually I apply the objective and the subjective, of how I want to communicate both of those in a song. But you know, it wouldn't have mattered what I studied, I really grew up a lot in college, and in law school, I think that it definitely help your communication skills. And the thing is you're gonna have a leg up, having an education, that other people in the industry won't have. You're degree is an asset that never goes away. Theres not many things in this world that can't be taken away or disappear. You know, all of a sudden you're in a hurricane and your house is gone or God forbid you have something on your throat and you can't sing anymore. But a degree, a degree is forever. So why wouldn't you take something when you can? Especially, you know what the thing is? Life expectancy used to be 60-65. So if you didn't do everything that you wanted to do by the time you were 25, you were kinda done. When you know, you had to get your career in. But now life expectancy is 80. You know, you got a lot more time to get out there and do what you wanna do and get a degree. So you get out when you're 22, 23 and it really makes no difference. There's no reason not to stay in school. People write me all the time, and they're 15, 16, and they say 'people say I'm really gifted, I'm a really talented musician, and I'm thinking of dropping out.' and I'm like 'Are you kidding?!' If you're talented when you're 16 then you're gonna be talented when you're 18 and you're gonna be talented when you're 22. It's the same thing as the degree. Talent doesn't disappear. Either you have it or you don't have it. And if you know you're a talented musician, you'll be there. And I just am always telling people to stay in school cause thats the best advice I think. You don't hear it that often when people ask what good advice can you give. I mean, I just know that it's super important.

Spencer:What is your philosophy on music?
Mandi:I think that music saves people. I think that, to me, I've paired all my memories from when I was little with, like all of my memories are images paired with music. I can remember my first kiss to a song, I can remember the first dance I ever had to a song, I can remember all these things and they are always to music. And I can also remember when I've been really sad. I remember exactly what I listened to and why it made me feel better. And I think that music, everybody relates to different things and I think theres something out there for everyone. And I think that if you let it in and you allow it to, music can heal. It's amazing. Music is everything. I think that music is everything. I have to believe that to be doing this I think. Do what I do.

Do you have anything you'd like to say to your fans at MusiqTone.com?
Mandi:Hi musiqtone.com, Spencer rocks. We're gonna bring her out from Cleveland to LA as soon as we can. So she can come kick it and get out of the storm and into the sun. And you know, like, be cool. Don't be mean. Theres no need to be mean. That's another thing too that I think is ridiculous. And I also highly recommend picking up a copy of 'Alice In No Man's Land' which should be available everywhere very soon but it's available immediately on Amazon and iTunes and stuff like that. And if you go to my MySpace, write to me, I write everyone back. So I love getting messages, I like hearing people say what the songs mean and I hope to see everybody at a show.

Kim KaminskeSpencer Abbott is a staff writer for the Midwest for Musiqtone.com. You can reach her at spencerabbott@musiqtone.com.

(C) 2008 Musiqtone. All Rights Reserved. Any part of this interview cannot be used without written express consent from both the representatives of Mandi Perkins and Musiqtone.
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