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Eleni Mandell : une femme qui s'en mêle

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Le festival "les Femmes s'en Mêlent" réserve à chaque édition depuis sa création son lot de découvertes. Pour cette cinquième édition, à cheval sur les mois d'avril et mai 2002, et pour la première fois de passage à Grenoble, l'équipe de PurJus a eu l'immense bonheur de rencontrer Eleni Mandell, originaire de Los Angeles. Déjà 10 ans de carrière dans son pays d'origine et trois albums pour le moins confidentiels en dehors des frontières américaines, Eleni Mandell a fait briller son talent de chanteuse, de songwriteuse et de performeuse sur la scène du Ciel lors de cette soirée du 4 mai, en compagnie de Paula Frazer pour la deuxième partie.
Avant sa prestation éblouissante, seule avec sa guitare et sa voix, Eleni nous a accordé cet intretien placé sous le signe de la bonne humeur.

Je m'appelle Eleni Mandell.[en français dans le texte, s'il vous plaît !]
I'm from Los Angeles, CA. I'm very happy to be in France. I'm being treated very well... except for the rain (rires.).
you're promoting your new album "Snakebite"...
That's my third record and my first real European tour. I'm performing acoustically but I hope to bring my band in the fall.

And so far, how's it been ?
Last night in Paris and in Evreux. It's been great ! The only problem is I'm eating too much because I have to try all the good food while I'm here.

Personnally we only had the chance to listen to your second album, "Thrill". What's the evolution on this third record ?
On the new record, I have some wonderful musicians. Melora Creager is in a band called Raspoutina, one of my favorite bands in the US. Have you heard of them ? They're great, they're great. She toured with Nirvana and Marilyn Manson. She's played some cello [on Snakebite], and I haven't had strings before. Well, I had violin but not cello. And Danny McGough who toured with Tom Waits and plays keyboard on the record. And DJ Bonebrake, the drummer for X, who played marimba and vibes. It's similar to "Thrill". We work as a band with upright bass drums and myself on guitar, and sing and record like a band. Then add sort of different touches afterwards, marimba, guitar whatever. And that's it, I don't know... just songs.

We read that your 2 main influences were Tom Waits and X. Could you tell us a bit more about the latter, X ?
They're a punk band from Los Angeles. It started I think about 1978 or 79. and when I was a teenager, they were very big in LA. So I saw them perform a lot. It was sort of the first band that was very different from anything I had ever heard before. And I thought : "That's exactly what I want to do !". But I figured I should learn to play guitar so that I could get in somebody's band. I didn't think I could be just a singer. So I learned to play guitar and started writing songs. An then I discovered Tom Waits when I was 16 years old. And I thought : "Now that's what I wanna do !".
Have you met Tom Waits ?
Yes, several times. He's wonderful. I met him through our mutual friend, Chuck E. Weiss, who's also a musician. And because we met as friends and not as a fan, then he was really nice and very supportive and talked to me about my music. He's always been very kind to me. I'm lucky, I met my hero and it was not disappointing, it was great.
and you met Exene Cervenka from X at your album release party..
She read poetry at my record-release show in LA, which was fun. I didn't get to talk to her very much. She's a little bit more... difficult to talk to than Tom Waits actually. But everybody I've met has been very nice.

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