I will probably give you a different answer every time you ask me, but for now, Mad Nanna’s out of tune, out of place and out of time collection of lazy and aloof lofi recordings on the »I Made Blood Better« tape was the best reord of 2011. A small talk with Mad Nanna’s songwriter Michael Zulicki.
Is Mad Nanna your solo thing?
It’s a band. I write the songs at home and then the others join me when we play live. The line up is Patrick O’Brien on guitar, Ian Wadley on drums, Samaan Fieck on bass, Jesse Dimmick on violin and myself on guitar and voice.
We don’t rehearse so the others have been learning the songs since our first few shows and I’m still learning the lyrics to some of the songs. Slowly I’ve learnt a few songs by heart but I haven’t really been fussed about it. Sometimes I use lyric sheets on stage.
We’re all happy with this line-up of the band. If someone can’t make it to a show generally we play it without them, or occasionally we’ll recruit someone else to play. The only home recordings we’ve done have been the B side’s to the first two singles, which are both duo recordings, me with Samaan then Pat, and our new single, »I Hit A Wall«, which is a 4 piece band 4-track recording.
When I heard your music the first time, I thought it was clumsy and messy. But when I really started listening to it, it became clear to me that it had vision and focus.
Clumsy and messy is fine by me. These guys really put it into these performances, all the way, they offer a lot. I don’t think we’re clumsy and messy. The guys I play with play their part with so much gusto, it’s wild. It just doesn’t sound like Fox FM.
I got to know Mad Nanna through the »I Made Blood Better« tape. How did you get in contact with Zully and his Goaty Tapes label?
Zully wrote and asked to release a tape by Silk Ears, which is something I do with my friends Dimitra Bucolo and Hugh Young. We’re not really playing at the moment but for a while there we practiced regularly and we played some shows. This was somewhat of a beginning for me, in singing, and doing some improvising. I liked that time a lot.
I’d been buying some tapes from Zully. I think I came across Goaty Tapes through the »Vincent Over The Sink tape« that came out. I bought some copies of that and some other Goaty tapes for my distro in Melbourne. I liked the sounds I heard on the Goaty tapes; interesting zones. I was particularly into the »Truth Syrum« tape too. So after doing the »Silk Ears« tape, when I was thinking of doing some kind of Mad Nanna thing, I sent Zully a copy of our 7?? and suggested we do something. I’m not sure how into the single Zully was but he was into doing a tape. So we rolled on with it.
With the kind of music you make, is there still a difference between a demo and a real recording?
I guess it’s up to me whether it’s a demo or a releasable recording. In terms of Mad Nanna, the demo would be the crappy recording I make of myself when I have an idea. Any other thing with members of the band would be a real recording. Most Mad Nanna recordings are done at live gigs, often with one mic in the audience going into a tape machine.
Is your music all tape recording?
We have done a couple other recordings at home, yes generally to tape, but sometimes our music gets recorded on other devices like a zoom field recorder or someones computer. I’m drawn to using tape. I like it. Even though it runs out sometimes when you would have liked it to keep recording.
Is your music all first take?
You could call our music first take because we’ve never said: »This is how the song’s going to go« or rehearsed in any way. In live and the home recordings we’ve always just hit record and started.
You also run the Alberts Basement record shop. Is running the record shop your day job and making music what you do in the evenings?
Alberts Basement is my record label and a small distro as well, not a shop space. I have plenty of free time so I do stuff with Alberts Basement or Mad Nanna whenever I like. I work part time at La Canella in Kensington.
You made two videos until now: one for »You Can’t Expect It« and one for »My Two Kids«.
I had an idea for the »My Two Kids« song and got my friend Jesse Hill to come over with his camera and we rode over there and made the clip that afternoon. It’s shot in the street I grew up in. Something that can accompany the song a perspective. It was nice, when we went over there we bumped into an old family friend of mine, a neighbour, and introduced Jesse to her and had a little chat. Then we got straight on and made the clip. Jesse has played a Mad Nanna show before when Ian couldn’t make it so it was good to have him help make the clips.
»You Can’t Expect It« was a quick thing too, maybe it’s weaker than the »My Two Kids« clip. Perhaps having done the clip to »My Two Kids« , I wanted to give Raf at Eggy Records a clip for the tape he put out too. Ideas for video had been bumping around in my head at the time and hadn’t really had a chance to get it happening so these were the only attempts.
I wanted to do a clip for »I Made Blood Better« too, shooting footage of this swamp on Philip Island that is covered in light green moss, but I never did.