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An Interview With Electrolash Diva, Mandy Coon

by Michael Cohen

Is Electroclash over? Personally, I don't give a flying fuck. I had a chat with Mandy from W.I.T. (Whatever It Takes) at her apartment. She seems to have a lot going on: shoe design for Adidas, fashion collaborations, and touring around the world. Here's a candid log of our conversation.

4/23/03, 11pm,
Mandy's apartment in NoLita

Michael: Wanna start with the shoe design?

Mandy: Okay

Michael: Do they just give you a bunch of shoes and say fuck around?

Mandy: Yeah, they just gave me a bunch of samples and I can do whatever I want to them. So it's cool. I'm used to working on Converse.

Michael: What's your shoe size?

Mandy: 7 & 1/2.

Michael: So what do you think of Adidas and Yoshi (Y3)?

Mandy: I think they're great. Especially Adidas Japan, they're really open to working with different people and smaller people just staring out. I don't know how they heard about me.

Michael: How did they approach you? Did they go through you agent or do you have an agent?

Mandy: I don't have an agent. I think it's because of alife. They had seen the alife stuff then this other Japanese company X-Girl (X-Large and X-Girl), they're having me do a bunch of shows and customize clothes for them.

Michael: Were your aspirations more along design lines rather than the music?

Mandy: It's always been both.

Michael: How long have you been doing the W.I.T. thing?

Mandy: I've been doing W.I.T. since October.

Michael: Do you like to travel?

Mandy: I love it.

Michael: You get to travel a lot with the band, you toured with Peaches and Chicks on Speed...

Mandy: Basically they'd just come back from Europe, and I knew the girls, I had helped make some costumes for them. They asked me to go on their American tour and I was like, 'I'd be stupid to not to.'

Michael: What's your sign?

Mandy: Virgo.

Michael: Oh, no.

Mandy: What's wrong with that.

Michael: I don't know. What year.

Mandy: '76. What are you?

Michael: Cancer.

Mandy: Oh, super emotionally aren't we?

Michael: Maybe. And during the day you're undercover?

Mandy: I work very very very very hard for Barbara Pfister

Michael: We've had some trouble getting together cause you're so busy. What projects are you working on?

Mandy: We do a lot a magazines and advertising.

Michael: Have you been in a few magazine books?

Mandy: Yeah.

Michael: Anything you wanna talk about?

Mandy: Over the years I've been in a few

Michael: As a model? Writer? Graphic designer?

Mandy: I used to model until about a year and half ago. And that's actually how I knew Barbara. I haven't really been writing. But its been nice 'cause I did a clothing line with Rose Starr for a while. And I was doing a lot of painting. And getting into things for doing that is a lot better than getting into things for modeling. Modeling is so boring.

Michael: Where do you come from?

Mandy: Texas. Houston.

Michael: Is your family there?

Mandy: Yep.

Michael: Are they proud of you

Mandy: Yup. They're in Texas, they're so conservative.

Michael: Do you play instruments?

Mandy: No.

Michael: Who does the backing tracks?

Mandy: Larry Tee.

Michael: I think he's pretty talented

Mandy: He's good

Michael: And you're at Luxx every Friday?

Mandy: No, usually once a month. Depends on our touring schedule.

Michael: Who's your roommate?

Mandy: I live with Kenzo Minami, he's an artist; and Sara, she makes clothes.

Michael: How long have you been in New York?

Mandy: Off-and-on. I came here five years ago. I moved to London for two years and just moved back like a year ago.

Michael: Did you go to university?

Mandy: I went to University of Houston, didn't graduate. But I was going for computer science, that's when I got scouted.

Michael: Can we talk about the process of the design? Its one thing to have a shirt that doesn't fit so you make it work. But when you have a client who is expecting samples to choose form, how do you refine your approach?

Mandy: It's hard because my favorite way to do things is always by hand. When I was doing stuff for alife, or for different Japanese clients, people would always ask 'why didn't I get somebody to work for me?' But I didn't because I always wanted to have my hands in it. And then it also makes it harder because you can't make that many. People usually know what they're expecting from me, I guess cause they've seen my stuff. It depends, the stuff for alife is a total process and it takes a long time because it's a lot of dying and bleaching then dying and bleaching and all that type of stuff.

Michael: Where does that technique come from?

Mandy: Just from fuckin around.

Michael: Do you have people you collaborate with?

Mandy: Before, the only person I really collaborated with was Rose Starr, we were doing t-shirts and stuff like that. Now I'm starting to do stuff, there's a guy named Joseph Ari Aloi, and he actually has a show at alife right now, but he's been one of my best friends for a while and we're going to start doing some stuff, especially for X-Girl.

Michael: Do you hang out with the girls in the group?

Mandy: Yeah, we are friends, we have a lot of fun together. When we're not on tour we hang out some, but we're around each other so much anyways. Especially Melissa and I are always at the same things. So we do see each see each other all the time, we have such a good time.

Michael: Mind if I smoke?

Mandy: No, go ahead.

Michael: Where do you want to be 2 or 3 years from now. Are you able to think ahead like that?

Mandy: It's so hard to say, because it seems like every year things are changing so much for me. But I think I'll definitely be doing something with music and something with clothing. Before I was with W.I.T. I was also producing music. I was using ProTools and everything. So I think I keep on with it. And then I've always been doing my own clothes so I'll for sure be doing that too.

Michael: I'm surprised you have to work so hard during the day.

Mandy: To tell you the truth, I took that job so I could do the other stuff and not have to worry about it. But the day job is more than full time. It's been hard to find that balance in New York.

Michael: Who does your hair?

Mandy: I do.

Michael: Is it your real color?

Mandy: Of course.

Michael: My friend Jose saw the Electroclash tour in San Francisco, and he pulled his pants down and was dancing in the crowd.

Mandy: Yeah. That's what we like to hear.

Michael: Did you like Peaches?

Mandy: We toured with her for three and a half weeks. She's amazing. She's the sweetest thing ever. She gets on stage and she's all power. When she's off stage she's so sweet. She's so nice.

Michael: I interviewed Princess Superstar. And her stage persona was different that hoe she was in person.

Mandy: So different.

Michael: Who chooses the outfits for W.I.T.?

Mandy: It's usually all of us together. Melissa, it was her idea the whole thing, so the image is her idea. Then we kinda collaborate on the outfits.

Michael: Do you feel like you don't get enough respect cause you don't make the backing tracks?

Mandy: That's hard. We all are in the studio when we're doing the songs so it's not like its all Larry. But Larry knows what he's doing and has a really good ear. And he's really good at making catchy songs. So we have total trust in him

Michael: I like the one with all the boys names.

Mandy: The new one, "Boy's Club"

Michael: What's the name of the album?

Mandy: Whatever It Takes

Michael: What label is it on?

Mandy: Mogul Electro, Larry's label.

Michael: Is it doing well?

Mandy: I think so.

Michael: When's the next tour.

Mandy: Next month we go to Europe for a month.

Michael: When you're on tour are you so tired that you stay in the hotel room or do you go out and do rock star shit?

Mandy: You don't really see the days much. Cause your playing every night and then people are having parties for you.

Michael: I wish somebody would have a party for me, hint hint know what I'm sayin?

Mandy: Okay, I'll keep that in mind.

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