Five Fast Facts: Mardi Lumsden "nineteen"
Updated: Dec 13, 2022
The MIC had the pleasure of speaking to award-winning Australian indie-pop artist Mardi Lumsden about her latest track, 'nineteen' and what it's like working with prolific mixer Charlie Holmes and esteemed mastering engineer Simon Francis.
Credit: Jade Furguson/Visual Poets Society. MUA Emma-Louise Diamond
Thanks so much for sitting down with The MIC, Mardi! We're very excited to learn more about you and your latest single!
To get started, can you tell us a little bit about your story? How did you get started in music, and when did you begin creating?
I started playing guitar and writing songs when I was 17 (mostly to impress someone), but I've been drawn to music all my life. As a kid, I would sing backing vocals to songs my brother had written. I've been in a bunch of bands since I was 18 and toured the world in an acapella group a bunch of times. Songwriting is such a great way to work through what's going on in your mind. To be able to sing about something that is meaningful to you and have that translate to be meaningful for someone else is a total gift. It's not about me; it's about the listener. There's no greater joy as a songwriter than making people feel things.
Your latest track, 'nineteen,' is the third single you released this year. It's a syrupy synth-heavy track that's upbeat and danceable. What was the writing process like for this track? Did the lyrics or music come first? Do you typically like to collaborate or write in solitude?
I typically write alone and then take that to my producer Andrew Pennay (who also happens to be my husband), and he makes it sound good. But we wanted to make this album more collaborative. So, I'd give him a theme or the direction I wanted to head, and he would create some beds. I'd then write over that, and we'd take it from there. He would often go in directions I wasn't expecting (like a 6-minute disco track that is glorious but very unexpected), but that usually resulted in something better than what either of us could have written alone. Essentially, everything relies on each other, so the lyrics and the music grow at the same time, and the first draft is never the final version. Writing it is the easy bit; the real work begins when you start editing and making sure every word and every beat counts. The songs on this album were all written as part of a song-a-week challenge. For "nineteen," the prompt was "stars," and as soon as I heard that, I remembered this line I had written years before: "You bought someone a star from some charlatan on the internet, I would've love that." It grew from there. "Nineteen" itself is a nostalgic reflection on long-term relationships. You might be naive when you are young and in love, but you do the big romantic gestures that sometimes we forget about as we get older and life gets in the way. It's about remembering who you used to be and who you fell in love with and learning from those people.
What did the recording process look like? You worked with mix engineerCharlie Holmes known for working with Ed Sheeran and Louis Tomlinson, and mastering engineer Simon Francis known for working with Charlie Puth and Björk. What was it like working with such prolific creatives?
The internet's a cool thing, right? I mean, we are nobodies from Brisbane, Australia, and we can reach out to people whose work we admire and want to learn from and say, "Hey, do you want to work on this?" It's pretty incredible! We recorded everything ourselves at home, mostly after our son was asleep. It probably took a year before we were happy to send it to someone else. It was really important for us to get someone else's ear over this album because we had a pretty clear sound in our head, and this is much 'poppier' than our previous work. And while Charlie was mixing our stuff (that we made at home), he was also working on the next massive pop hits. That is kinda terrifying, but that was the point. We wanted to work with people who knew what they were doing, and both Charlie and Simon knocked it out of the park!
4. What is one song you wish you wrote and why?
"Case of you" by Joni Mitchell. The way she can capture really specific, intimate moments with humor and sadness at the same time is unmatched. It's so raw and personal but also universal. And by speaking directly to the listener it feels like you're an old friend hanging out and talking. She is masterful.
5. Your last three tracks released are going to be part of an eight-track sophomore album. What are you most looking forward to with the record release?
We are so proud of these songs. They are so fun and feel free. After releasing my debut full-length in early 2020, I had to step back and figure out what we wanted to say, what we wanted people to hear. The last couple of years have been so negative; I just wanted to write music that would make people want to dance, want to smile. We played them live for the first time recently, and it was so fun to see people hearing them for the first time. I can see them going down really well at a Summer festival or two. My hope is that these tracks will make it into your favorite TV show because that is when they really become someone elses.
Stream "nineteen" below!
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Written, Produced, Performed: Mardi Lumsden and Andrew Pennay (Artist Name: Mardi Lumsden)
Mixed: Charlie Holmes
Mastered: Simon Francis
Video: Nevin Howel
Directed, Edited: Mardi and Pennay