Ken Leighton 6 p.m., Oct. 18
Sound description: Dance pop.
RIYL: Fiona Apple, Beyoncé, Shakira, Pink, Madonna, Janelle Monáe, Christina Aguilera, Madonna, Moby, God Lives Underwater, C&C Music Factory, Supreme Beings of Leisure, Bitter:Sweet, Hooverphonic, Francois De Roubaix, Trost
- "Miz Mandy's Red Carpet Videos Debut Oct. 27 @ Del Mar Plaza" · Oct. 24, 2012
- Musician Interviews: "Miz Mandy Likes Rummikub" · April 6, 2011
- Blurt: "Record Release Roundup" · Feb. 18, 2009
- Blurt: "We Need a New Dance Diva" · May 3, 2007
Inception: Solana Beach, 2005
Influences: Serge Gainsbourg, Francois De Roubaix, Nancy Sinatra, Bridgette Bardot, NIN, Beck, Dvorak, Tom Waits, Fiona Apple
Mandy Gasparich (as Miz Mandy) did not always feel her destiny was a career in the music biz. “I used to own a restaurant called Le Passage that I designed, built, and ran with my ex-fiancé on State Street in Carlsbad. We later sold it to the chef who ran it for awhile, and then he sold to someone else. It’s still operating.”
Turning toward her musical aspirations, she earned a national chart hit in 2007 with a dance remix of her song “In the Mix.” She’s one of the many former female frontwomen of local pop band Liquid Blue to go from one-time BlueGirl to solo recording artist.
The song peaked at #37 on Billboard’s dance club play chart, where it charted for nine weeks in mid-2007. It was produced with Latin rhythms, flamenco-guitar flourishes, and backup lyrics done in Spanish by Cardiff producer Pat Pickslay. The extended remixed dance version that charted was crafted by DJ Scotty K, who is known for the remixes he’s done for Christina Aguilera, Seal, and Madonna.
This was by no means her first brush with pop music fame. “I once got on Prince’s tour bus with him in St. Louis, back in the late ’90s. The concert after-party was at a local club. I was cooling off outside and didn’t realize I was right there between the tour buses, looking up at Prince, who was sitting in the driver’s seat and smiling down at me. I walked around and got on...the band was loading up to leave, so my stay was brief. Nothing crazy happened. Sorry. But they did mention that they would take me with them. I declined and went home. That was before I was writing my own stuff, but now I kick myself for not having the foresight to more aggressively pursue a mentorship with him.”
In 2008, Peak Hour Music teamed up with MediaServices NYC Promotion to publicize Miz Mandy’s own “In The Mix” remix project. The new remixes were done by Touvan, TsT, Jason Turbulent, Dush, LexDaFunk, Martez, Alternative Reality, Tachyon, and Steve DeParr.
Mandy’s mix entered at #92 on the Electro Chart and #80 on the Trance Chart at Beatport.com as well as achieving Top 10 chart status at DJDownload.com. Miz Mandy's “In The Mix (TsT Remix)” was also included on Peak Hour Music’s Elektrotech Ibiza compilation CD of electro and tech House anthems.
In November 2008, Peak Hour Music released new remixes of Mandy’s pop track “Yours.” Remixers include DJ Red, Elemental Project, Paul James, Touvan, and, Von Ukuf Vs. Ei8ht, and Di Liberato.
In the fall of 2008, Miz Mandy released the first single off her next album. “Sweet Fury of Love (Friscia & Lamboy Back 2 Soul Mix)” entered the Billboard Breakout Charts and hit #48 on the Billboard Dance Club Play charts.
In January 2009, Mandy and label BabyLove Records announced the release of her sophomore album Today’s the Day. “We did a soft release in December for presales to the fan club, (and) now that it’s through the distribution channels, we are officially releasing it to the general public.”
She describes the original album as “a fun whirlwind of the extremes. On one hand, there is love, lust and passion and on the other self-loathing. There are funny songs, spiritually awakening songs, and flirtatious party songs.”
Though her past music has been based around pop and dance, with an international flair, she changed directions a bit in 2011. “There are very few venues that specifically book pop/dance musical acts with a full band anymore. It’s hard to get gigs, other than sitting in on a dance/club DJ set without my band, [because] most venues seem to focus on a very genre-specific product other than pop dance.”
Her next original pop album as an artist with Ryan Franks was designed for a retro moody feel. In addition, she started a side songwriting project mixing all musical genres with John Rosenberg, geared for beefing up her songwriting catalogue.
Deviating from her historical pop/dance sound, her sound has progressed to a new cinematic electronic pop sound, integrating highly orchestrated music and characterized lyrical writing. Her full-length Mousetrap was released on BabyLove Records in November 2011.
In early 2012, she shot a video for the track “Rising Sun,” from her full-length Mousetrap on BabyLove Records. She premiered that video and one for “The Cat’s Pajamas” on October 27 at Del Mar Plaza, with a free red carpet screening that included the cast and crew of both videos, which were shown on a large projection screen.
"Rising Sun" writer/director Amelia Yokel describes the track as “one of the more upbeat and carefree songs on the album. It's as though Mandy is speaking to the world and saying 'We can do this together, don't give up.'”
“Amelia is a woman of vision and ambition, and I loved her idea of a pied piper parade for the video,” said Mandy. “She was so organized and thorough, I trusted her to run with it.”
The video concept features Mandy dressed as ringleader, gathering people and characters of all kinds to come together. Scenes consist of spreading the word via light signals, paper airplane invitations, posted fliers, and calling all to join by leading a parade throughout the mountains, neighborhoods and city.
They began with a treatment, bike riding practice, and focusing the costume options. “One of my favorite parts of the process was the day that Mandy and I went through the costumes in her closet,” says Yokel. “It might not be obvious to the innocent observer, but Mandy is one of those women who is a unique combination of class and whimsy. Her closet is a testament to the lighter side of her personality and what many people don't know is that the majority of the crazy costumes in the video came from Mandy herself.”
Most of the "Rising Sun" video footage was filmed over two days at four different locations in greater Los Angeles, shot on a Canon 7d with Zeiss Prime lenses, with custom equipment being built to accomplish the desired shots. Yokel explains, “Our rig was a platform built off the back of a jeep that combined a steadicam rig with climbing gear to keep our camera guy, Noah Dille safe from sliding around.”
The second video, for "The Cat’s Pajamas," is a James Bondian adventure about a female double agent hired to kill a handsome male spy. She's staking him at the pool and she is caught between doing what she is hired to do and what she really wants to do. “This song was just meant to be a video,” says Mandy.
According to co-director Frank Rice, "I loved the song…[it] has a very catchy chorus and I liked the play on the words. She uses a lot of metaphors to convey her feelings toward someone. I like that…not too direct or literal.”
“I formed my vision based on Mandy's lyrics. I know Mandy likes the quirky, kinda out-of-place stuff, but I felt that this song needed to be kept on a serious level. That steered my vision into shooting it more like a movie, rather than a traditional music video."
The treatment and shot list were created. Props and set décor were purchased, borrowed or made. Mandy located her 1960s-style costumes through local vintage thrift stores. A self-proclaimed lover of vintage, Mandy said, “I have quite a few stores that I regularly frequent and my collection of one-of-a-kind pieces has really grown. I wanted authentic costuming for the video, so I made my rounds and came up with what I found was the right look.”
The video was shot in San Diego, utilizing dual RED Epic cameras, a 26ft crane, a 3-ton lighting package and a state-of-the-art steadicam, filmed in 5k, "allowing for a better cinematic feel and look," according to Rice. With around 50 cast members, the majority of the shots consisted of the morning outdoor pool scene and the evening indoor casino scene.
“I really enjoyed myself, but there wasn’t any time for hanging out or even eating,” Mandy says. “I was constantly in hair and make-up or a costume change. But I loved the challenge of acting as this character, and it was a blast. The crew really worked well together.”