It´s like love at first sight. As the first guitar riffs resound I am head over heels in love with “White Lies” – a song composed and performed by Axel Mansoor.
It was, just like the rest of his current fantastic EP Somerset, recorded entirely in his bedroom. Somerset, that is due to be released in June is full of incredible beautiful acoustic pieces, showing music at its rawest form. “Somerset marks the first time I’ve had the guts to put something out that’s entirely self-produced. Over the last year, I’ve managed to build up enough confidence to present myself like this…no fancy production or gear, just acoustic guitar and my voice. It’s awesome because the EP was recorded entirely in my bedroom studio with a $150 USB microphone for vocals and a DI for the guitar. Most people would assume that means “low quality”, but it’s not. It sounds great, and it helped capture the vulnerability. It also cost me way less..”
Axel, your EP in summation is about the quarter-life crisis. Is it something you personally are going through and what are the things a mid twenties person has to deal with these days?
Being in your mid-twenties is the awkward last hurrah between childhood and adulthood. We’re taught there’s an expectation to “know what you’re doing” by now, but I think the older you get the more you realize NO ONE knows for sure, 100% of the time. My biggest hurdle right now is making the jump to leaving my day-job and just doing music. That requires $$$ (so buy the EP on bandcamp plz)
I love how the song „White Lies“ has this peaceful, quiet beauty to it and so does also the rest of the EP. In this „loud world“ it feels so soothing when listening to it. Was that one of your intentions –to create something soothing?
Thank you! Songwriting is therapy for me, so it makes sense that the songs would end up with a soothing character. Honestly my intention was to create something that is true to who I am, without having to dress it up with big production. I fell prey to the idea that my songs needed production or they’d never be recognized; I made this EP to put myself on display and break out of that box. Seeing the success of artists like Phoebe Bridgers and Julien Baker made me want to at least try.
“The stripped approach won’t necessarily appeal to everyone, but honestly I prefer it that way. I want to be brave enough to stand by work that could be polarizing. This EP is for the hardcore few, the ones who connect with my songs, my message, and the medium so deeply that they’ll treasure it. As long as those people are out there, I’ll know I created something with lasting substance.”
All is entirely recorded in your bedroom. How long did it take you to do it and did you do everything on it alone?
Yup I recorded the whole EP in a bedroom. I used an $150 RODE USB microphone for vocals and guitar, and DI acoustic. It’s just crazy…4 years ago I didn’t know a damn thing about recording music and was so reliant on other people bringing my songs to life. Now I’m putting out a record that I wrote, engineered, recorded, and produced on my own. I’m so proud of it. I still don’t touch mixing though haha, I was fortunate enough to meet an amazing mixer, Daniel Brooks, who really helped make the mixes shine and just understood what I was going for.
Why did you name it „Somerset“?
My manager came up with the name actually. Mega kudos to him. Somerset is the name of the street I live on and therefore where this EP was made. I love the title. There’s something nostalgic and grounding about it, tying it to somewhere real like that.
“Being in your mid-twenties is the awkward last hurrah between childhood and adulthood. We’re taught there’s an expectation to “know what you’re doing” by now, but I think the older you get the more you realize NO ONE knows for sure, 100% of the time.”
Three things that people should know about you who haven´t heard about you before?
1) I’m a total nerd. I love anime and video games. Just finished playing Horizon Zero Dawn and am waiting for the right time to get God Of War. 2) I see myself as an underdog. I’ve dealt with crushing insecurity and bouts of depression throughout my life. If I have one message to the world it´s that if I can make it this far, LITERALLY ANYONE CAN. Fuck the haters, never give up, I believe in you damn it. 3) I’m a 1/4 Chinese, 1/4 Indian, 1/4 Austrian, 1/4 Ethiopian. My parents are immigrants from a tropical island called Mauritius, and I’m Jewish.
The things you want to have achieved by 30?
1) Self-produce and release an album that is actually a complete conceptual thought and not just a collection of songs that people decide to call an album. 2) Be touring internationally so I can get paid to go eat delicious food around the world (and play some shows I guess) 3) Make a living off of music while staying independent.
A good day starts with… and ends with…?
Starts with Meditation, Journaling, Exercise. Ends with a glass of something fine (wine, scotch, or sake) and a new project I’ve created / am excited to be working on.