Breaking Through | 5 Questions with Becca Mancari
For Fans Of: Phoebe Bridgers, Soccer Mommy, Julien Baker
Nashville has a long-standing tradition of producing rootsy Americana singer-songwriters, but Becca Mancari is blossoming into an altogether different prospect; recently captured (for want of a better description) by Captured Tracks, Mancari’s impending album The Greatest Part is a freeing statement of evolution both professionally and personally.
An internal exploration of her own childhood, the psychological toils absorbed from growing up gay in a fundamentalist Christian environment, and navigating the route to coming out, The Greatest Part (produced by Paramore alumni Zac Farro) sees Mancari join contemporary raconteurs like Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker, and Soccer Mommy in a troupe of artists whom possess the ability to imagine wry laughter and subdued loner-ism in the same sentence.
Mancari’s emo-Americana sensibilities are fully realised by Farro, returning to the dizzying sonic palette that typified her youth in what signals her most truthful, earnest, and cathartic collection of tracks to date.
Ahead of the album’s release date (26th June), we spoke to Mancari about her background, the power of forgiveness, and falling in love with music again:
Who or what initially inspired you to write/make music?
I grew up going to church, so music started at the hymnal level for me. I remember listening to the old upright piano playing in the corner of the church house, and that was my first experience hearing live music. The thing I remember the most is that it was my favourite part of about having to go to church, and I remember thinking that, at the core of me, all I really wanted was to connect the vast feelings I had in my young heart to music. I was around 12 when I got my first guitar, and that changed everything for me. It was like I was given a window into another world... oh and I remember being really - and I mean truly - bad at playing guitar for a long time. But the thing that helped me learn how to play guitar was my desire to write my own music. It gave me a voice, and I have been trying to use it ever since. Being a musician is a lifetime thing for me, not just a moment in time... it's everything.
How can you describe your creative process throughout writing/producing The Greatest Part?
I started writing The Greatest Part at the very end of 2018 after touring non-stop for over a year. I had actually just gotten home from a support tour in the UK and Europe opening up for my friend Julien Baker, following with a headlining tour back in the UK, and I was beyond exhausted. I think that all the years of being in survival mode you could say finally caught up with me, and I was crashing. If I am being honest, I was kind of at the end of my rope when I started writing, but as soon as I started to sit down to write the songs...it was almost like they were given to me. I would even have songs coming to me in my dreams. It was truly one of the most incredible things that has ever happened to me creatively. Production was all about having fun and being open. Zac Farro and I started the record by saying let's play absolutely everything we can ourselves before we bring anyone else into the studio. It was the most fun I have ever had recording music. I truly feel like when you listen to the record you can hear and feel that we are having fun.
How did Zac Farro initially become involved in the album?
So, Zac and I have been very close friends since I moved to Nashville in 2012. We just kind of clicked, you know? We have always wanted to work together somehow, but I never thought about him as an option for producing the record. But I went in to just try and write with him, and the morning I was writing 'Hunter' I went in to his house studio and said I think I have something for us. We demoed it out that day, and it was magic! Most of what that song is now is from that demo, and I think after that I knew we could do this together. Zac is just getting started when it comes to producing, but I am going to tell you this he is going to be one of our great producers. I truly believe that. I cannot wait for people to hear what he did with this record.
Which track from the album has a particularly significant meaning?
I think that the obvious track would be 'First Time' because it is my first time really addressing what it was like to come out as gay to my family, but other tracks that also mean a lot to me are 'I'm Sorry' and the last song on the record, 'Forgiveness' - these songs go hand in hand. 'I'm Sorry' is all about how I want to hold onto anger and pain, but at the end of the day I'm only hurting myself when I do that, while 'Forgiveness' is me trying to do just that... to really forgive my family but also myself. That's a lifelong battle for a lot of us, so I wanted to talk about it in this record.
What's the best advice you've been given?
No matter how hard this life is, never give up on your dreams. It might take you your whole life, but if you keep at it something will break. Oh, and be kind to yourself while you walk through life. The world needs more people that love themselves, so they can truly learn how to love others.