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Interview: Mousey Chats About New Album 'My Friends' + Tour

Interview: Mousey Chats About New Album 'My Friends' + Tour

Indira Neville / Tuesday 5th April, 2022 9:57AM

Ōtautahi's Mousey aka Sarena Close talked with Indira Neville (The Biscuits, Drop Zone) about ideas orbiting her new sophomore album My Friends, which debuted at the number 10 spot on the Top 20 NZ Albums chart. Don't miss Mousey continuing her release tour with band this month in Wellington, Auckland and Dunedin [tickets HERE]...

For a bunch of reasons Mousey’s April tour is a big deal.

First, Sarena Close is pregnant. She tells me about her heart palpitations, clogged nose and sore back. Then she laughs, “The pregnancy glow is a myth.”

Second is that this tour is the last with her current band; “We all know it. We can feel we’re about to drift off and do different things. There’s no drama. It’s just time for it.”

Sarena says the tour has become a way to mark these significant events. But then she gets practical, “Obviously though it wouldn’t be happening without the album.” The album is the third and main part of the big deal. It’s the reason I’m speaking with her.


My Friends is Mousey’s second release, following 2019’s award-nominated Lemon Law. As the title suggests it’s about friendship but not in a conventional sweetness and gratitude kind of way. Instead it explores the real-life complexity of having friends and how it can feel secure and brutal at the same time.

Sarena talks about being drawn to charismatic ‘Michael Scott-types’ but that this isn’t good for her, “I’ve been put through the wringer.” Now she seeks ‘safety’ in her friendships. But safety is not the same as perfect; “A safe person to me has the tools to deal with conflict when it arises. They have boundaries, they understand, apologise appropriately, give and get forgiveness.”

This is the gist of My Friends. The songs are about being let down by those you love, but also that the love provides a way to work through. Each track is about a specific friend and a specific incident. The descriptions of both are truthful, even blatant. The song 'Rachel' for example, is actually about someone called Rachel; “People are horrified and worried about this. I’m always asked if she minds I used her real name. But she’s honest and vulnerable and knows what happened. It’s open on her end. That’s what my friends are like, probably why they’re my friends.”

Would I be jealous if I were a friend but didn’t get a song? She doesn’t think anyone feels like that and jokes “it’s probably because every song on the album’s negative!”


I feel it’s important to ask about her experiences in the Aotearoa NZ music industry. How she reconciles a need for safety with this generally male, sometimes predatory environment. Sarena credits her husband and manager Chris for helping her. She describes him as solid, calm, good with admin and people; “It means I get to choose who to interact with. Without him I just wouldn’t do it.”

We move on to discuss music more generally. She has an interesting theory about those who “play music for sport” and those who are artists. Playing for sport is about being a theoretical musician, being as traditionally, technically tight, skilful and impressive as possible. An artist however “is someone who’s in the centre,” for whom honest expression and creativity are the crucial things. Her friend Lukas Mayo of Pickle Darling is the example she gives: “He’s not a singer he’s an artist. He has a massive following on Bandcamp, but for lots of people his music would be like those abstract paintings they think are bad, where they go ‘I could do that’. He’d never make it on American Idol.”
 


I’d brought up American Idol earlier, asked what song from My Friends she’d audition with. It was possibly a dumb question and Sarena is justifiably strident in her response; “I’d never audition, and they’d never put me on the show. None of the great songwriters would have made it through the first round. Can you imagine Aldous Harding on American Idol? David Bowie?!”

“They want something palatable and superficial with Instagram looks. They play music for sport and are ‘in for the chop’. They don’t want artistry. They want an entertaining moment.”

Sarena passionately drives her point home, “I mean the Beatles got beaten in a talent contest by a spoon player! Can anyone even think of a spoon player now?”

There are no spoons on My Friends. Although engaging, the album is creative, complicated and personal. Mousey is an artist. She doesn’t play music for sport.

Mousey - My Friends Album Release Tour

Thursday 7th April - Meow, Wellington w/ Mitch Zachry*
Friday 8th April - The Tuning Fork, Auckland w/ Bub*
Friday 22rd April - Dive, Dunedin w/ Neive Strang

Tickets available HERE via UTR
*Tickets available from https://www.mouseymusic.com/


'My Friends' is out now via Winegum Records / Rhythmethod — CDs, tapes, and limited edition translucent green vinyl available via Mousey's Bandcamp page HERE.

Links
mouseynz.bandcamp.com/album/my-friends
mouseymusic.com/
facebook.com/TheBiscuitsNZ
facebook.com/DropZoneNZ

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Mousey 'My Friends' Release Tour
Thu 7th Apr 7:30pm
Meow, Wellington
Mousey 'My Friends' Release Tour
Fri 8th Apr 7:30pm
The Tuning Fork, Auckland
Mousey - 'My Friends' Release Tour
Fri 22nd Apr 8:00pm
Dive, Dunedin