Iraina Mancini is a proper pop star and a fantastic human being to boot. And I’m so thrilled and proud that Needle Mythology are to release her debut album.Pete Paphides
Please give a warm welcome to Needle Mythology’s latest signing.
Can I tell you about the first proper conversation I had with Iraina Mancini? We’d met three or four times in passing, at Soho Radio, where we both host radio shows. And by the most recent of those occasions, I’d heard her own music, three self-released singles.It says a lot about the quality of those songs and about Iraina’s sheer determination that she managed to get them playlisted on 6 Music *without a plugger*. That’s almost unheard of. But if you listen to Deep End, Undo The Blue and Shotgun, you’ll know why. These are songs that stick to you on first listen the way they did when you were a kid and you couldn’t rest until you’d either taped it off the radio or got the money together to get them from your local record shop.
So, last November, on the most recent of those in-passing conversations, I asked Iraina if there was an album on the way. She told me that half of it had been recorded, and the other half existed in demo form. “Who’s putting it out?” I asked her. That process was ongoing right now; a bit of back-and-forth with a couple of major labels. They were dragging their heels. I sensed a sliver of opportunity.
“I run a small label,” I said. “Would you mind sending me the songs?”
“Sure!” she nodded. That night, ten songs landed in my inbox. Ten individually beautiful songs; but also, thirteen songs which, all together, propelled you into the fully-furnished, flawlessly-curated pop universe of their creator. Every detail just-so.
Iraina and I met a few days later at Maison Bertaux. I told her about the label. I told her that my job, as I saw it, was to just get out of the way and let her finish what she’d started. She told me about her – for want of a better word – method. About the melodies that come to her as far back as she could remember. Fully fully-formed tunes that flow into choruses that pitch up in your brain, kick off their boots and make themselves at home. A lifetime spent obsessing upon pop in all its myriad forms: northern soul; French ye-ye; bubblegum; freakbeat. From the Supremes to Betty Boo – her interior world was like a radio station to which no-one else had access.
When she talked to me about Deep End, she hymned “the scuzzy sound of 60s garage rock”; the atmosphere of early Jacques Dutronc records, and the adrenalised harmonies of The Shangri-Las. For Undo The Blue (the song), she talked about creating something that might make people feel something of what she felt the first time she heard the luxuriant psych-soul of Rotary Connection.
We also talked about Jacqueline Taïeb, Margo Guryan and Astrud Gilberto. When Iraina stepped up to the mic to sing Sugar High, she asked herself, “How does it make you feel when Julie London and Dusty Springfield sing about love?” If you want to know what the answer is, listen to Sugar High.
During the course of that conversation, I sent myself a dozen texts – reminders of records she’d mentioned that had in some way established the sonic mood board of Undo The Blue. I had a lot of homework to do. But when I heard them all, no single album managed to resound with quite the iridescent joie de vivre that pours forth from these songs. That’s 100% Iraina.
When pop is done with this sort of full-pelt brio and impeccable taste, what you end up with is an album that will repeatedly remind you why you fell in love with this supposedly ephemeral art form in the first place.
And that’s why everyone who has worked with Iraina on Undo The Blue – Will Harris , Mark Wood , Craig Caukill, Julian Stockton, Martin Kelly, Rupert Orton, James Gosling, Erol Alkan, Mig and everyone at Cool Badge – is thrilled to have been part of this adventure.
I had a few ambitions when we started this label, but one of the big ones was to put out at least one genius Platonic-ideal-of-pop album. The sort of record just as good on a sunny Saturday morning when you’re doing the dishes as it does when you’re getting ready to go on a night out with your friends. This is all of that and so much more.
Happy release day Iraina!