Next Big Things 2011: MNDR
Vowel-free dance-pop diva in waiting.
Home sweet home: New York City
Expect: Dance-pop multihyphenate; another Mark Ronson discovery made good
Must hear: still-untitled debut, due this spring
At the moment when Amanda Warner was getting her big break from the guy who helped turn Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen into superstars, she couldn’t stand up straight. “I had a rare case of vertigo that lasted four months,” says the 28-year-old vowel-averse singer-producer, recalling how she had to brace herself against the walls of a tiny recording booth to sing the hook on Mark Ronson & the Business Intl.’s loopy hit “Bang Bang Bang.” “When Mark first met me, my pupils were dilated and I looked like I was out of my mind.”
In person, without her trademark oversized white glasses, Warner appears sane, though she claims her favorite color is chrome and bursts into tongue-twisting sound effects when English won’t suffice — as when she recalls crashing in Oakland’s notorious rave warehouse Underworld: “I lived with all the speed freaks, and it was like thweesh wahh ggguuu ahh all day.”
Warner grew up in a much calmer environment on a farm outside Fargo, North Dakota, where she played classical piano competitively, then moved to Minneapolis, where she started a noise band. “I didn’t fit in that world,” she says. “I was always more pop.” She relocated to New York in 2008 and posted a few songs she’d worked up with producer and partner Peter Wade on MySpace. After releasing an acclaimed four-song EP that caught Ronson’s attention, she received a flood of offers to collaborate (Warner won’t name names but arched brows imply the list is wild). Instead, she focused on her own full-length debut, also copiloted by Wade.
The album, due this spring, will feature lush ballads alongside dance tracks reminiscent of the EP’s killer “Fade to Black,” a thumper built on layers of loopy synths. The new songs have some heady subject matter — Patty Hearst, Plato’s cave allegory, Charles Fourier’s utopian society the Phalanx — but don’t worry about MNDR getting too lost in the library. Her other goal is to craft an eye-popping, full-band live extravaganza that may leave audiences as dizzy as she’d been. As Warner says, “I imagine it being like everyone putting their fingers in a light socket together.”
Listen: “Cut Me Out”
Download the song at Green Label Sound