Irini Mandó is an up and coming singer/songwriter based in London who, under the guidance of the Amy Winehouse Foundation, self-released her debut EP Pink Noise this year. With a repertoire of clever hooks and slick urban beats, Irini is most certainly one to watch in 2015. We decided to catch up with the artist herself to talk about her creative process, plans for the future, and Britney Spears.
Your Pink Noise EP is quite an accomplishment, how did it come about and what was the creative process like?
Thank you! I put out singles previous to this project but felt I wanted to release a body of work showcasing me as an artist. I was still graduating as I finished Pink Noise, so it was quite a unique process. I’m glad I went for the challenge, though, it definitely taught me loads!
Do you have plans to release a full-length album anytime soon?
Hopefully, I will be working on the next project very soon! I’m constantly writing and excited to get back in the studio.
You have a really unique singing voice, is this something you’ve worked on or does it come naturally?
Thank you so much. I think everyone is a product of their environment and I have a rather eclectic taste when it comes to music. Don’t get me wrong, I have been working very hard for years, however I never tried to sound a certain way. I just sound like myself.
How was your experience with the Amy Winehouse Foundation and how did it influence your music?
It definitely added to my journey, for through the Foundation I started working with Urban Monk who produced the majority of the EP. Believe it or not, my background is very hip hop heavy so he was a great fit.
Do you play any instruments yourself?
I was classically trained in piano from the age of five and started to play some Jazz piano later on. I do write most my songs on the piano but wouldn’t say I’m a particularly great instrumentalist.
Which artists do you look up to? Is there anyone in particular who has inspired you to do what you do?
There are a lot of people who I look up to stylistically. I love Joss Stone, Corinne Bailey Rae, Alicia Keys – all very soulful, powerful women who each found their very own individual sound. One person who never fails to inspire me is Kanye West. He doesn’t limit himself to one craft, he doesn’t believe in the word ‘can’t’ and he’s unapologetic about it. Powerful.
Your name literally screams pop star, is there history behind it?
Oh, you reckon? That’s great! It’s my real name, actually. They’re both Greek first names and rather rare, even in Greece. Irini means peace and Mandó is short for Adamandia which I think is the same word family as adamant and diamond. No pun intended (laughs).
Do you remember the first album you ever bought?
Yes! The first album I owned was Britney Spears’ debut album when I was seven years old! I didn’t understand a word but that didn’t stop me from singing along relentlessly! And choreographing with my sister (laughs).
Is there a message or a certain kind of impact you’d like to make with your music?
I’m actually quite opinionated; when I feel strongly about something it will definitely reflect in my music. I didn’t get too political yet, I think people don’t always listen to music to be reminded of what’s going on. Sometimes they need an escape instead. In that case, what I believe in will still be omnipresent between the lines: It’s in who I work with, how I handle things – what I believe in will always be a big part of who I am.
I noticed an Alexander Wang piece in one of the photos on your website – do you feel fashion is an important part of your artistry?
Well spotted! I absolutely love fashion – I read Vogue before I could spell my own name! Like music, it’s a great outlet of personal expression. I don’t necessarily follow trends but I like to go by my own rules. If I want to wear a silk dress on a Monday morning, believe me, I will!
Where do you see yourself in five years? Still making music?
Most definitely! Growing up in between two countries, I never pictured myself settling in only one place. London is my home but I will have expanded my territories by then.
What – or who – are you listening to at the moment?
I’m currently excited for Frank Ocean to finally release his album this month! Gonna have to take an evening out; some records you can’t just play on the side.
And finally, what advice do you have for anyone wanting to start making their own music?
Don’t be afraid of failure or sounding silly; if you don’t put it out there and get feedback, you will never progress. I also have to say, I personally got very selective regarding whose advice I take into consideration. It’s all a big, beautiful game at the end of the day. Only, as Picasso said, you have to know the rules before you break them.