Caitlin Duff Manor Good for a Girl Interview

Interview: Caitlin Duff from Manor (@BIGSOUND)

I saw Manor for the first time at Bigsound 2016

Manor Caitlin Duff Interview Good For A Girl

Image: Manor / Caitlin Duff (right, duh) and Nathaniel Morse

A good friend of mine recommended I go check out Manor at The Brightside on the first night of the Bigsound festival, and later that same day I had a message from my ‘helper-outer-crisis-aversion-guy,’ Max, that he’d contacted their manager, and Caitlin Duff (vocalist and writer) was keen as a bean for an ol’ chateroo with yours truly!

I enjoyed their live set, but because I wasn’t aware at the time that they were actually a duo; during it all I could think was that I really wanted Caitlin to be standing proud in the centre like the front-woman she is (or thought she should be). I made sure I asked about this during the interview, and her answer showed precise intent. Good! For a hot minute I was worried she had been forced over there by an egotistical band mate who wanted all the glory for himself. He can live to see another day and I can grow as a person who doesn’t jump to outrageous women-defending conclusions all the time.

Manor Caitlin Duff Bigsound Interview Good for a Girl Live Brightside

Image: Manor performing live at The Brightside, Brisbane / 7th September, 2016 / BIGSOUND 2016 / Caitlin Duff (left, duh)

So, Manor are a 2-piece electro-rock-dream-scape (genre I coined btw) from Melbourne. Well, they describe their genre as ‘beat’ on their Facebook… I’m not sure what pre-requisites are required to be considered ‘beat’ but, I like it when bands create their own genre labels so I’ll accept.

Manor formed and started writing and experimenting together in 2012. They Drip-fed a few (great) single releases, then dropped a 3-track EP in March 2016 titled ‘MANOR EP’ which you can listen to here.

I really dig Manor’s recorded shit – Caitlin’s vocals are totally dreamy and the chill-as production on the tracks makes me just want to chuck ’em on and drive around aimlessly for a few hours in a beat up convertible cadillac while I stare in to the distance and think about my life choices. It’s a good thing, for sure.

Now you should Watch my interview with Caitlin Duff from Manor.

For a full transcript, scroll to the bottom of this post.

I would say ‘I’m looking forward to hearing new music from Manor asap’ but they literally just released a brand new track on the 5th September titled ‘Repent’, so we don’t even need to look forward to it, it’s here already. And it’s 80s and it’s POG effects and it’s definitely driving aimlessly and feeling fucking cool doing it.

So if you like what you hear, check Caitlin and Manor out online!

MANOR LINKS

Website
Spotify
Facebook
Instagram
Twitter

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Good For A Girl: Caitlin Duff from Manor (Interview Transcript)

Emma:
So, the first thing I want to talk about with you is your influences growing up, like, even as a little kid, even just what music you were surrounded by growing up, maybe your parents, like, what they played around you …

Caitlin (Manor):
Yeah! My dad’s a musician. When I was growing up, he was in an acappella group

Emma: 
Cool!

Caitlin (Manor):
They used to rehearse in our lounge room all hours of the night so I grew up listening to folk music, um, oh Crosby Stills and Nash and Young were always on..you know, the Steve Miller Band. So, for me, it’s always been, like, the vocals is what I’ve been interested in. I’ve learnt instruments but I never took to them in the same way.

Emma:  
Yeah. Yeah.

Caitlin (Manor):
Um, yeah. I was in a couple of choirs for me, but apart from that, I never had any vocal training or anything. I just loved doing it!

Emma:
Yeah. Well, you’re good at it so… (laughs)

Caitlin (Manor):
(laughs) Lots of practice now! Lots of years of singing and relentlessly singing, so yeah.

Emma:  
Were there any sort of flagship acts that kind of made you go “I want to do music. I want to be a singer” ?

Caitlin (Manor):
Um, well, yes and no. We didn’t really have, like, it was all records at home, we didn’t have a TV or anything growing up. So, I didn’t have an icon or, like, a, a heroine that I looked up to in that way.

Emma:  
Yeah.

Caitlin (Manor):
Um, but, people like Kate Bush, um, you know that, that their art is such a visual thing as well. You know, she never really played live. She did like one TV appearance in Germany and hated it and, like, never went back to it! I’m quite an introverted person as well. My performance style isn’t, like, the crazy dancing, moving thing. I like to focus on making sure I hit the notes! It’s my number one thing. (laughs)

Emma: 
(laughs)

Caitlin (Manor):
Yeah, so, growing up my influences were all like, sonic and, and then a bit of a visual scene. But it was always about vocalists with huge range and songwriting.

Emma:   
Yeah. So, was Kate Bush a strong influence to you?

Caitlin (Manor):
Yeah, Kate Bush was a big one.

Emma:
So, did you kind of look up to her, like, was it because she was a woman or were you not really conscious of finding women role models, or?

Caitlin (Manor):
I think the reason why Kate Bush does stand out to me particularly, is because yeah, a lot of music I was listening to was male dominanted.

Emma:
Yeah.

Caitlin (Manor):
Like, you know, as I said before; Crosby Stills Nash and Young – that’s four male musicians making a band and their vocals were so diverse, but, you never get to hear that feminine side. So whenever my Dad would play female musicians I was like [looks excited]. Tori Amos as well! My Mum played a lot of her stuff growing up and, yeah, it does definitely resonate with me, because I can sing their songs, you know? And it just like it’s, for me, um, something I can start to emulate, whereas those male vocalists – i can’t get that way. I can do it my own way but it’s not the same thing.

 

Emma:
Yeah. So when, what actually inspired you to start being a performer? I mean, were you starting in bands or solo, or?

Caitlin (Manor):
The very first band I was in when I was sixteen, the lead singer at the time who was male lost his voice two days before their EP launch. I’d done some back-up vocals on the recording so they asked me to step in for the show. Which was great cause I just sang his lines, but, you know, as a female vocalist, and the audience really resonated with it and they asked me to join the next day.

Emma:
Wow, just “screw the other guy!”

Caitlin (Manor):
Yeah, well he’s still sang, like, we both sang, but I became the lead singer, and he focused on the guitar after that.

Emma:
Cool!

Caitlin (Manor):
Um, so, we toured for six years. And, it was a bit of a fluke. I never intended to be a musician, like I was always interested in other things. I wanted to be an architect, actually.

Emma: 
Wow.

Caitlin (Manor):
So, um, after they asked me to join, that was the end of me. Of that person! (laughs)

Emma:
Yeah! (laughs) So, was it, so that was during high school time?

Caitlin (Manor):
That was, yeah. I was 16.

Emma:  
So you started touring at that age as well?

Caitlin (Manor):
Yeah, year 11 and 12 – there was a lot of missed school. (laughs).  A lot of touring.  And that was hard being in an all-guy band, being they were all you know, 18 or 19, and I was underage. No one ever questioned why I was there. “Why is this 16-year-old girl backstage?” you know. They probably thought I was someone’s girlfriend or something. No one ever spoke to me, really. May I was a little bit intimidating because I was the one girl in the room at all times. Like, “don’t bother talking to her”, you know. “She probably won’t have much to say.” So, fo a lot of my earlier touring experiences I was so shy, so people might of perceived that as me being a little bit stand-offish!

Emma:
Yeah.

Caitlin (Manor):
The guitarist in that band, to this day he’s still like, “I thought you were a total cow.”  (laughs)

Emma:  
(laughs)

Caitlin (Manor):
And I’m like, “I was so shy. I didn’t know what to say to you!”

Emma:  
I get that anxiety too. Like, if I’m just kind of at gig and I’m just kind of in the corner, it’s like “ugh everyone thinks I’m being a bitch but I’m just terrified”

Caitlin (Manor):
Yeah I genuinely don’t know what to say. Like,  the bands I listen to aren’t the same bands that these other guys listen to, because I don’t listen for guitars. I listen for vocals. That’s what gets me. So, often times I just sort of hang around, and I’ve taken on the social media side of the band ‘cuz I can just sit there on my phone and post something to Instagram while everyone’s talking shop. It’s a bit lonely, but yeah.

Emma: 
You know, you kind of touched on that thing where, like, you felt like maybe people assumed you were one the guy’s girlfriend’s and stuff like that.

Caitlin (Manor):
Yes.

Emma:
Do you have a lot of experiences on tour with bands where you aren’t respected? Or people assume that you’re not actually in the band, or maybe when your sound checking – the sound guys kind of being a dick to you you, or anything? Like any sort negative experiences that you’ve had?

Caitlin (Manor):
I think the big ones are the green room. When you’re on a tour with two other bands, and they’re all big guy like, jock-ey bands, and you’re in there, and they’re just doing their thing where they talk about horrible stuff. And then they go “oh yeah, shit there’s a girl in the room”

Emma:
Yeah.

Caitlin (Manor):
And it’s like, “it’s actually fine, I’m used to it.” And then, I stand there and I’m like, why am I used to it? Is that okay, that I’m okay with it?  Am I a bad person, now that I’m listening to these guys be horrible and talk about what girls they’re going to bring in to the room after the show.

 

Emma:  
And they also know that’s it’s gross.

Caitlin (Manor):
Yeah, they do.

Emma: 
Cause, they go, “oh yeah sorry. Well we’re going to talk about these girls like this but don’t worry worry – you’re cool

Caitlin (Manor):
Yeah, yeah, “you’re cool girl” as if that’s okay. And then I have to be okay with it. They don’t give me a choice to say, “actually I am offended.”

Emma:  
Yeah cuz then that potentially creates this tension And that’s kind of the weird position we get put in like we’re just trying to manage not…I don’t want to say intimidating and I don’t want to say offending them either it’s just… yeah it’s kind of weird.

Caitlin (Manor):
That’s the thing, like, you want to have your say and I have put my foot down a few times within the band I’m in. You know, every now and then someone drops a C bomb, or something like that. I’m like, It’s not okay for you to use that word and they’re usually totally cool with it. Then there’s other things like, you know, they love Top Gear and stuff like that.

Emma:    
(laughs)

Caitlin (Manor):
I just have to let it go… I can’t be that guy all time that says “don’t talk about this, don’t talk about that.” I mean it gets too hard as well. Yeah, and it’s kind of, you know, a little bit, um, a little bit… makes me feel like I’m being… being a bit of, a…uh … (laughs)

Emma: 
A bitch? (laughs)

Caitlin (Manor):
Yeah! (laughs) I don’t want to use that word, but yeah. And I guess that’s another issue in itself. Like why do I have to feel like a bitch for standing up for myself.

Emma:
Yeah, it’s insane. When guys stand up for themselves they’re a boss.

Caitlin (Manor):
Yeah. Exactly.

Emma:
But we’re like these horrible bithces that just want basic respect and just generally be treated like we’re other humans in the room.

Caitlin (Manor):
Yeah! Exactly!

Emma:
So I was watching your set last night, and I don’t know if it’s conscious from your guys’ perspective – your stage alignment – but I notice you’re the lead vocalist but you stand off to the left, can we talk about that?

Caitlin (Manor):
Yeah, yeah, yeah!

Emma:
Where does that come from?

Caitlin (Manor):
Um, well, my vocals are soft. Like I’m a quiet singer. So we were sort of working out the best way – in the early stages – to have my mic not run so hot all of the time. Where if I stand in the middle you’re just gunna hear drums, ‘cuz our drummer is a beast. He is super loud! So, me standing off to the side, we can turn the mic up little bit higher, and get more of my vocals…

Emma:
Nice, because it’s not swelling the the microphone.

Caitlin (Manor):
Yeah It’s like that. And Nathaniel’s guitar, like, he’s incredible. So, like, his pedal board takes up half the stage. So, um …

Emma:
(laughs)

Caitlin (Manor):
Yeah, it just works for us. And I feel a little bit less self conscious, and like I have to be like this, total big front woman, moving about, and like dancing, and stuff like that. I mean, as I said before, I just like to make sure I’m hitting the notes!

Emma:
Yeah, and create more of a team effort with the band as opposed to establishing that “I’m the main person – you have to watch all of this”

Caitlin (Manor):
Yeah. “I’m chick in the front, give me all of your attention” when we’ve got these incredible musicians that we play with. They deserve the lime light just as much. And it’s so easy  to just have 3 across the front.

Emma:
Cool! So what’s next for you guys? Have you got releases on the table…

Caitlin (Manor):
We do! We just released a single yesterday, officially. “Repent,” which is going well, which is good. And we’ve got, an album coming out early next year, which we’ve just finished recording.

Emma:
Awesome.

Caitlin (Manor):
Yeah, a few shows coming up, in Melbourne particularly, where we live. And just taking it as it comes, yeah!

 

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