Interview: 2011 Freedman Fellowship Finalist Evan Mannell

We asked the Freedman Fellowship finalists to help us out with a little Q&A and this is Evan Mannell’s contribution.

Update: Unfortunately, Evan is unable to perform at the finals. He will be an automatic nomination for next year’s fellowship, and meanwhile John Parker, Brisbane drummer is now a 2011 finalist.

Evan Mannell (drums, Sydney) plays the drums for a number of groups and artists on the jazz, indie-rock and underground scenes. He also performs as part of Musica Viva in schools program performing interactive concerts across the country for primary school children with the Glorious Sousaphonics .

Evan Mannell | photo © Elana Stone
Evan Mannell | photo © Elana Stone

What are they key features of the proposal you’ve submitted to the Freedman?

My proposal is really divided into three parts. The first focuses on my home where I have been building a great space for writing, rehearsing and recording new music. The aim is to get the space really humming with some nice recording gear to be able to develop projects from inception to release at a high quality audio level. Having the ability to pre-produce records or just record web content in house at will is really exciting for me in terms of what it means for the projects and bands that I’m involved with.

Part two is aimed at the development of a digital space in the form of a user friendly, interactive website that will be the conduit between content produced in the home space and an online audience. With the world of digital downloads and file sharing the industry norm now, the website will be a great way of easily getting content into the ears of a global community hungry for new music.

The final piece in the puzzle is about having the funds to market my projects more effectively with a budget in place for the creation of a greater presence in print and online media for myself and my bands.

How did this project come about?

I love being in the studio. I love making records. I’m now living in a space where I have the room to do it myself and while it’s by no stretch going to be a commercial studio, I’ll be able to make plenty of great sounds here. I’ve made lots of recordings within a huge range of styles and budgets and across the board more and more recording is being done in home studios, and the possibilities are amazing. I’m not talking about doing every record at home, but you go onto a great band’s site that have recorded something special by themselves and they’re giving it away limited with the first 50 sales or whatever and that’s a great interaction. It’s possible for the artist because it’s affordable, and great for the audience because they’re hearing something they may otherwise have not. I also like reading a music mag and seeing a beautiful visual about a new release or a gig. I don’t think there’s enough of it with jazz recordings.

Who’s playing with you at the Freedman concert?

I’m using two of my bands, two trios with myself as a the Siamese hip.

  • Guitarists Aaron Flower and Ben Hauptmann and myself are the Alcohotlicks, a band that has been around for coming up on 10 years.
  • The other band is a very new project with percussionists Bree Van Reyk and Timothy Constable.

I’m sort of slamming the two groups together in a bit of an experiment. We’re going to mash the material up a little bit so it’s going to be pretty wild. Think Xennakis meets McLaughlin… The aim is to blow people’s hair back a little.

What is the place of the Freedman Fellowship in the jazz award and performance landscape in Australia?

I’ve been involved in the Freedman Fellowships twice before as a performer for other finalists, once as a previous nominee not making the final cut, and several times as a listener. It’s always an amazing night of music.

As far as jazz awards go, the Freedman is great because it gets the artist thinking and presenting at a grand level; it promotes the artists and of course someone gets some bread to do something they feel strongly about. This year is crazy for me because I have bands with two of the guys I’m competing against, and the other guy is someone I greatly admire on the scene. Maybe my buddies and I are all growing up… seemed like everyone I play with was nominated this year!

Links for Evan Mannell

Evan Mannell on Myspace >>>>

The Alcohotlick on Myspace >>>>

Bree Van Reyk and Timothy Constable at Synergy percussion >>>>

Since 2001, the Freedman Music Fellowships have offered a unique opportunity for some of Australia’s most talented classical and jazz musicians. The prize for each Freedman Fellowship is $15,000 cash. The award includes consultations to assist with non-musical aspects of career-building, as well as active support from Music Council personnel during the Fellowship period. Fellows are asked to submit a proposal for a project and the finalists also pe rform at a concert, after which the fellowship is announced.

In 2011 finalists performed on Friday 8 July at the Studio at the Sydney Opera House. The finalists were Tom O’Halloran (piano/composer, Perth), Ben Vanderwal (drums, Perth/Melbourne), Evan Mannell (drums, Sydney), Matt Keegan (saxophone/composer/director, Sydney).