Born in the Australian Bush a couple hundred kilometres from Sydney, Frame moved to Tokyo right before the lockdown and was stuck there for four years during the Corona Disaster, in this time he had the chance to collaborate with Japanese rapper Tohji. He has since moved back to his hometown in the scenic Blue Mountains of Australia.
Upon listening to Mahne Frame’s lead track, ‘WALK LIKE’, the pleasant intoxication of the sound seems reminiscent of Conan Moccasin and Mac DeMarco, but there’s also a somewhat harebrained energy that feels less like resignation and more like a breakthrough towards something new.
What did he think about the difference between the city of Japan and the city where he was born and surrounded by the great outdoors, and how did he complete the EP? I decided to interview him.
Through releasing a collaboration with Tohji, ‘SOMETIMES I TRY NOT TO CARE’ and Aya Gloomy on his own label 21 N FUN, it gives the impression the artist has quite a diverse and unrestricted creativity. When we tried to interview Mahne Frame by email, his answers seemed playful and like he was kidding around, but at the same time, he was actually serious. So, what do you think?
“I’m stuck with just sitting down and seeing what happens.”
ーー First of all, please introduce yourself. Can you tell us about your musical roots and how you got started? Can you tell us about your influences and scenes, if any?
Mahne Frame: Hi my actual name is Mahne Frame, pronounced Mah-Nay Frame. My mum was pretty young when she had me and took me to folk festivals. I grew up in the bush and played a lot of drums. I really hope I get to play in Finland one day so I can dedicate the set to my elderly Finnish neighbors Pentti and Airi who never once complained. Max Rockatansky inspired me to make my own music but lately, I’ve been more inspired by Mark Valencia and Charles Dowding.
ーー The downer, intoxicating songs that remind me of Mac DeMarco and Conan Moccasin are very appealing. What roots led you to create these songs?
Frame: I’ve never heard of those artists, I’ll check them out. I really wish I could rip off other artists more but I don’t have enough attention span to follow through. So I’m stuck with just sitting down and seeing what happens. When I’m rich, I’ll pay them to write my songs. I genuinely think my music is lacking dishonesty at the moment.
ーー You run your own label, 21 N FUN, that focuses on Japanese sonic and aesthetical ideas. Where did this inspiration come from? What aspects of Japanese culture are you inspired by?
Frame: 21 N FUN is just a general creative outlet. So far, it has concentrated on graphic design, fashion and video production and also functioned as a record label. One of the artists that has been using it as a label is Aya Gloomy who happens to be Japanese. Other than that we don’t have a particular focus on Japanese sonic and aesthetical ideas. Sonically we focus on honesty, aesthetically, we are heavily influenced by the sense of community in football.
ーーHow long did you live in Japan? Please tell us about any inspiring moments of your time in Japan, impressions of the city, or memorable events.
Frame: I was there for 4 years, delivered 1000 Uber eats, and got married. There are so many good vegetables in Japan that I can’t find in Australia. I found some gaps in the vegetable market here that I want to exploit.
ーーDid your collaboration on SOMETIMES I TRY NOT TO CARE (feat. Tohji) in 2020 give you a sense of connection with the Japanese scene?
Frame: I really like Tohji’s darker music like Propella, Oreo and an older track called Snowboarding. After I created SOMETIMES I TRY NOT TO CARE it really needed that kinda energy so I dug around for a link. At the time my good friend from Tokyo, Nuga, was in London and I saw that Tohji followed him so I reached out to see if they actually knew each other. Nuga messaged me back seconds later, shocked because they had just met at that moment and were sitting next to each other at a restaurant in London. So I think we all felt like it was meant to be and Tohji let me sample the vocals from Snowboarding.
ーーWhat changes have you seen in your own songwriting since returning to Australia after your time in Japan?
Frame: I’m not really conscious of Japan vs Australia. I happened to be in Japan when I started this project, but at the end of the day, I’m Australian. I didn’t have any of my guitars in Japan so naturally, I’ve started playing them, and now they are back in front of me.
ーーIn particular, the music video ‘WALK LIKE’ was filmed against the backdrop of the vast Australian landscape, but it felt like the sound of a Japanese six-mat room, which was an interesting twist for me personally. Where did you get this idea from?
Frame: WALK LIKE was shot around my hometown where I grew up and am living at the moment. I recorded it here too so it should sound more like a brick house in the bush. But maybe I’m stuck in the past.
ーーCan you tell us more about your current life in Katoomba? What changes have you felt after your time in Tokyo? And how do you feel about the geographical Pacific crossing that is happening now that you have signed to a Berlin label?
Frame: I grow a lot of vegetables and work on this project. I wish I had more time to grow vegetables but I’m signed for 2 albums and so I better get that done. It feels like it’s now or never. I’m getting elderly and all I have are EP’s.
ーー Do you have a message for Japanese music listeners and fans?
Frame: Grow something you can eat, even if it’s small. Most of you in Tokyo have a tiny balcony but indoors works too. Japanese negi is an easy place to start. Use organic methods and if you want to level up try a Bokashi compost for working towards serious nutritional density. I really regret not doing that while I was living in Tokyo.
Photography Zac Bayly
Translation Hiroyoshi Tomite
Special Thanks Monkeytown Records