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Interview: Menajerie Chat About Their Debut EP, ‘Selective Deafness’

Brisbane/Meanjin neo-soul outfit, Menajerie have revealed their much anticipated debut EP, Selective Deafness. At the helm of Menajerie’s enchanting musical journey are the captivating talents of Gracie Mack, Rosa Mack, and Mel Galletly. This dynamic trio delivers a powerful blend of sultry grooves and soulful harmonies, crafting a sonic experience that ignites the senses with its fiery passion while remaining irresistibly smooth in its delivery. We sat down with the band to find out more about the debut EP.

Congratulations on the release of your debut EP! The ‘Selective Deafness’ EP features a blend of neo-soul, R&B, jazz, and funk. How did you approach incorporating these diverse elements into your music, and what do you feel each genre brings to the overall sound?

Andrew: Thankyou! It’s very exciting to share it with the world. It’s safe to say that all the members of the group dig Soul, RnB and Jazz music, it’s only natural that we incorporate the things that inspire us into the compositions. Menajerie  is essentially a melting pot of all the influences all six members share

The EP’s lyrics are described as straddling the line between unvarnished reality and a cheeky sensuality. Can you share some insights into the themes and emotions you aimed to convey through the songs?

Gracie: I really love that description of the songs. Because we do like to share so many of our facets of ourselves through the music. There’s humour and joy as well as biting wit, loss and smoldering anger.

Gracie, Rosa, and Mel each bring a unique presence to Menajerie. How does this dynamic influence the creative process and shape the band’s distinctive sound?

Gracie: It’s a lovely and deeply powerful feeling having the three female leads in this band. I feel it represents the complexities of feminity and womanhood in the beautiful mix we create with our really quite different voices and energies. Each opinion is valued equally so it can sometimes take a little while to iron out exactly how we want a song to go. But it means that the final product feels right for all of us and we can deliver it in a more connected way.

Could you walk us through the creative journey of crafting the EP? 

Andrew: Well, for this release Gracie wrote the majority of the songs. Inspired by a recent breakup, the running theme in the EP is female empowerment and holding space for yourself and your loved ones. We rehearsed those songs lots. The collaborative arrangement of the songs is really important to us. We play the songs live and workshopped ’em more in rehearsal. We decide which of those songs would work well together. We did demo recordings and re-wrote parts of the arrangements. Then we lay down the drum beds in a session. Over the course of a few months we individually record overdubs and start building each song up that way. All the while editing and comping between takes, (thanks Cam our producer). We had the tracks mixed and mastered by Nick Herrera and voila! Lots of thought and care and tears and laughs and money has gone into this EP.

Can you share any specific musical moments or experiences that stand out to you during the creation of ‘Selective Deafness’?

Mel: Coming out of the major lockdowns in Brisbane during covid Gracie and I lived together and both left relationships around the same time. The clarity and outpouring of creativity during that time felt immense because there was so much space being held by Gracie to express that. 4 of the EP songs came out of that outpouring.

Andrew: An iPhone recording of our beautiful/excited dog Harley features on the last track.

The EP features a wide range of instruments and textures. How did you go about selecting and arranging these elements to create a cohesive sonic experience?

Gracie: The six of us in the band have been playing regularly together for sometime now, so I feel we have our band sound pretty solidified. Then Cameron Bower (our wonderful producer) and I arranged strings for three of the songs that felt they could use that lush texture. We really took our time with this EP so that every layer added feels intentional and right for the song.

The EP beautifully balances gritty truth with female empowerment. Can you elaborate on the significance of this thematic balance and how it resonates with Menajerie’s overall artistic vision?

Gracie: Thankyou! I think empowerment can mean so many different things for so many different people. And there’s a huge amount of power in truth, whatever that may be to you. So while some songs like ‘Is Everything Alright’ and ‘Holding Pattern’ deal with heartbreak and talking shit about your ex, ‘Shape you’ exlores how that heartbreak and the other big moments of your life shaped you. And if that shaping gave you a form that you actually wanted. And then we also have ‘Dat ass’ which is this fuckboi character that we just thought was funny. I find all these songs empowering, because they were what we wanted to write in the moment.

What are you most excited for your audience to discover and experience when they listen to the EP?

Andrew: The EP showcases all three vocalists and it shows a few different vibes that we love to compose and play in. We hope the listener will follow us on a short journey through these different feelings and moods. There are themes of sadness and frustration, of hope and friendship. Tbh the last track is just a straight up and down funk, love poem to our dog Harley. 

Hopefully the listener is left wanting more cause we got a backlog of songs we can’t wait to record and share.

Menajerie leaves an indelible impression through their music, presenting a remarkable fusion of refined soul, suave rhythms, and a hint of funk. With their unique artistry, they expertly navigate the terrain of gritty truths and playful passion, all while championing the cause of female empowerment with an unwavering spirit. Their debut EP, Selective Deafness is available now, everywhere.

Written by John Zebra