We recently sat down with London based singer-songwriter Irini Mando to discuss her musical background, her debut EP Pink Noise and also her experience in London. The EP features 5 tracks that were recorded at Amy Winehouse’s studio – the eclectic production showcases Mando’s versatility as an artist, the content is universal as she shines with quick witted lyrics and melodic vocals that sound as good as anything you hear on the radio.
Hello Irini, how are you doing?
Hey I’m great thank you! It’s great to be here.
First of all, your name sounds exotic, what’s your ethnic background?
I’m Greek but was raised in Germany, so culturally I’d consider myself both.
Nice! Let’s talk about music, when did you first become interested in music?
I’ve never not been interested in music to be honest with you. I started singing and playing the piano when I was five years old and never stopped.
At what age did you start singing and writing music?
I started pursuing it full time from the age of 18. I did write before, though. It helped me digest stuff as I was growing up, although I would not publish most of it. It was purely for myself.
What artists inspired you ?
There are a few! Growing up, I mainly listened to pop, hip-hop and RnB, but as a young adolescent, I started getting into the bluesy, neo soul singers like Joss Stone and Corinne Bailey Rae and sang along to their albums religiously.
Great taste in music! So, growing up in Germany, how often were you exposed to urban music?
In the German underground scene, hip-hop and dancehall play a big role. There are plenty of nationally successful bands and collectives who consist of members from all over the world. Maybe that’s why I tend to work with a diversity of people, everybody brings something else to the table.
I need to look into the German music scene, I never knew that. Did that play a part in you moving to London?
I always knew I wanted to escape the small town vibe (laughs). But seriously, I wanted to have an international career and therefore strived to study in English to have the jargon down and be able to play with everyone and anyone, no matter where they’d be from. Ironically, I now struggle to express myself in German when it comes to music terminology. Guess you loose some, you win some.
Amazing, and here you are speaking English fluently! How are you finding London?
London is my home, man. Again, I need the cultural diversity. Did you know that no place else in the world is home to as many people of different heritage; no place else can you hear so many languages spoken every day! Growing up, I never felt I particularly fit in but in London everyone is of what I call ‘confused’ heritage which I can identify with.
Yes, I know exactly what you mean. You recently released your debut EP “Pink Noise” about a month ago, as an independent artist how long did it take you to work on that project?
It took about a year during which I also graduated to be fair. From writing the songs to choosing what gets to go on the project, recording and releasing it independently. The amount of behind the scenes work that goes on is incredible. But I have a great team around me which made it possible.
The EP integrates both pop and RnB well, are those the main genres you’re aiming to break?
Thank you! Well, I just happen to sound the way I do. I think my music is commercial enough to become mainstream but still brings something unusual to the table. Genre-wise, I have been called everything from neo soul to pop.
Tell us about the title track “Pink Noise”, what is your definition of pink noise? Is that something you’ve experienced before?
I wrote Pink Noise when I was frustrated with people talking about others in order to distract from their own lives, failures and insecurities. I came to the conclusion that ultimately, them using their time to talk about me instead of themselves was a blessing! I don’t really care what people feel they have to say about me, as long as they pronounce my name correctly!
That’s a great definition and I hope people do pronounce your name correctly! So out of the 5 tracks on the EP, which one are you most proud of?
Personally, my favourite track is “Hang”. I feel it gets closest to my sound because I started building the beat on a sample myself before I took it to Urban Monk, who produced the EP. I usually write the music but took it that step further with “Hang” and want to do this more in the future.
There’s so many great up and coming artists in the UK, what makes you different from the rest?
Wow, that’s a good question! There’s a lot of UK artists I rate at the moment and I think what makes them great is that they each have a personal style and an individual message. I would like to think I have a unique sound and story myself and therefore stand out.
Have you got any upcoming shows?
I will definitely play some shows over the summer. The best way to find out about them is to check my social media accounts or my website.
What’s next for Irini Mando? When do you head back to the studio?
I actually just dropped a “Pink Noise” remix by Moonbista from LA and am excited to say another remix is on the way! We collaborated with Scotland’s own Iain Jamieson and I can’t wait for everyone to hear the result, man!
We can’t wait to hear the track, when can we expect that?
Hopefully this week to be honest, I’m too excited to keep this to myself. Besides, it would be super selfish, really.
Twitter / Instagram: @irinimando