Exclusive Interview with Songstress Mandy Rowden

unnamedMandy Rowden is a talented singer/songwriter and a multi-instrumentalist performer who has collaborated with Grammy-winning producer Lloyd Maines, Grammy-winner Redd Volkaert  and Brad Rice. She recently released her 11-track debut full-length, These Bad Habits, which highlights her country, rock, folk sound. I recently chatted with Mandy about her album and her career as a recording artist. Read on to find out what she had to say.
How old where you when you realized you wanted to be a musician?
“Well there was never a realization, I always wanted it. (Laughs). There was never an epiphany moment.  I went to college for classical violin and thought that I would get a degree in music education, which was dumb because I would probably be miserable teaching middle school orchestra right now (laughs).
That’s where it started. But, I guess when I got involved in the music bar scene (as I got older) and started meeting other musicians, if there ever was a light bulb moment that would have been it. Like an,”Ah, I can do this’.  It was finally attainable and it’s really fun.”
What musicians inspire you as an artist?
“For the most part, it would have to be Lucinda Williams. She was the first real Americana artist that I got into. She just opened up a lot of ideas for me.  I came from a small town with terrible radio stations (laughs). So as a kid, all I knew were the big stars, the big country stars and the big pop stars.  It was cool to discover people like Lucinda who were more human and a little more reachable.  I realized that I didn’t have to be like Britney Spears in order to have a career in music.” 
How would you describe your musical style?
“For publicity sake, I just call it Americana because that’s kind of the market I’m going for, that I think I fit in best.  But Americana is a catchall for any music that doesn’t fit any other genre. So it’s not especially specific.  I think my style is country rock, alternative country folk rock. That’s a vague description (laughs).”
 Let’s talk about These Bad Habits! What can you tell us about this album?
“It’s really just a big ol’ labor of love.  It’s biographical for me. It’s almost like a photo album, because every song is like an experience.  When I listen to the album, I’m like reliving the last several years of my life.  Instead of taking snapshots, I have songs that compile all that together.  As a writer I hope to expand from that, but this one is really personal.  It’s basically like reading my diary.”
Is there a particularly song on These Bad Habits that you’re especially proud of?
“If I had to pick one it would probably be the song ‘Enough For Us All’. That was really a personal story that came from a really bad situation at the time that I wrote it.  But I’ve always been proud that I took the high road,  and instead of an angry song…I had a perfect storm of stuff hit me all at once, I was down but determined not to give up. That’s where I tied in the line about ‘there being still love out there’ There’s still happy things and good things and hope.  That was just a cool one to write, it was very cathartic, very therapeutic for me.”
Why do you think people will enjoy These Bad Habits?
think it sounds great!  have a killer band playing on it!  I really went all out and got the best of the best to play on it. I think there’s a lot to enjoy if you are a fan of song writing. There’s a lot of depth to it in that way.  I feel like it’s got a lot to offer. It has a wide range of emotions, a wide range of tempos and all that kind stuff. I’m really proud of it! I think it’s a complete package.”
You run a musical workshop called Girl Guitar that teaches women of all ages to be confident musical performers, what can you tell us about it?
It’s a really cool thing!  I think I’m being a little braggy. (Laughs).  I’m just really proud of Girl Guitar!  It’s basically a school for lack of a better word.  It’s kind of a guitar school for women. Most of what we offer are 6 week classes. We have everything from beginners who are just picking up a guitar for the first time to experts at all different levels of styles of guitar. We’ve expanded to having band classes, so it’s basically like a rock camp. We just had a huge showcase!  Every body was celebrating and partying.  It was really beautiful. The really cool thing is it kind of fluctuates around 80 women that are involved in it. We have around 25 classes a week.  It’s amazing.  It fits with my kind of personality (laughs).”
What performer do you some day dream of working with?
“There are so many that I would love to work with. You already know about my giant girl crush on Lucinda Williams!  So it would be my dream to some day open for her, I’m just going to throw that out there (laughs).  I have kind of a professional crush on Jason Isbell and would love to work with him in some capacity, to open for, or write with. He’s really on top of his game right now.”
What is your ultimate goal as a performer?
“My goal is to sustain myself and keep doing it! Fame isn’t really a motivator, but in order to keep working you have to reach a certain level of fame. I have to always think about earning more money and that involves playing bigger, better shows. Being on the rise and being seen. But really, I just want to keep doing it, because I love what I do.”
Are there any other musical projects you’re currently working on?
I’m almost done with my next album!  I probably won’t release it until next summer.  I also play a lot of other gigs. I play lead guitar for a cover band here in town. I love the music and being able to do it.”
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