Exclusive interview with singer of Free Moral Agents, Mendee Ichikawa
Long Beach dream pop and experimental group Free Moral Agents have recently released a full length album this year, “Control This” on Chocolate Industries, Inc. Free Moral Agents is the brain child of keyboard extraordinaire Ikey Owens and the expansion of the different band members has given the music a true identity. This album pulled together sounds from all over the region of modern music culture, we highly recommend you pick a copy up online or in stores. SCV is pleased to release an interview we did with the very talented singer of Free Moral Agents, Mendee Ichikawa. ~ Erik Otis
How and where did you meet Ikey Owens and become a part of his Free Moral Agents project?
I met Ikey about 12 years ago at a show he was playing in Whittier, Ca. I was a fan of the band he was in at the time called Teen Heroes. When we got to talking it turned out we had mutual friends and a lot in common, so we had much to draw from. Not long after meeting he had me come down to this studio called Jabbz in Long Beach and I recorded bass on a few tracks. From that point, we had worked on and off. In 2004 Ikey asked me to join FMA. The first show I performed live with FMA was in July 2004. From that point on we kept creating together consistently.
Have you always been singing since you were a child or have you found your voice as you’ve progressed?
For as long as I can recall, I have used my voice in song. Even though I have not had formal training, I have been singing for many years. As a child I loved Julie Andrews. I would sing the songs from sound of music to my mother who was my usual audience. I would often make up words and put them to a melody and try them out on her.
You have just released a full length this year with Free Moral Agents called Control This, how long did the record take to finish and how was the process?
For me the process was easy. I was in a position where I was surrounded by talented people, all in agreement with the direction of the group. Most of my vocals were tracked on the first take and nothing past 3 takes. Working quickly and intuitively makes for an exciting recording because you don’t have time to become bored or excessively rehearsed with the material. Ikey works quickly and that suits me well.
From the time you were young until now, who are some of your biggest influences musically?
This sort of question is always a bit difficult to answer because you want to include everything and everyone. Here’s a few that come to mind: John Lennon, Bjork, Jeff Buckley, Lauryn Hill, Sonic Youth and The Pixies.
What music projects were you involved in before Free Moral Agents?
Free Moral Agents is the only professional group I have been in. As a teenager (about 15-17) I did have a trio with my best friend April who played drums and accordian, I played bass and my friend Esteban played guitar. Other than that, I play guitar, write and record at home. It’s something I have been doing for a number of years now. I plan on releasing a record with those tracks in about one year. I have performed my solo work live. I fully plan on playing solo shows in the near future as well.
Has music always been at the focal point of how you present yourself creatively or do you create in other mediums of art?
Music has been the main way that I express myself. Music has been my true home. I also like to create/craft with my hands. I recently took up painting. I’ve also been into photography for a number of years. Music is how I choose to feel in song, Photography is how I choose to feel in visuals. I also crochet and make origami animals and objects!
You recently completed your first national tour with your group FMA, do you see yourself touring overseas anytime soon?
Yes, it has been our goal to bring our music to places like Europe, Japan and Australia. Control This is doing well in Europe so it’s the natural way of things for us to tour there. Our European tour is shaping up for February 2011.
If you are in the area for any of these shows, don’t miss out on the nation wide 2Mex and Free Moral Agents Dead Hand Control Tour occuring right now:
Oct 30 2010 8:00P
Pike Room Pontiac, Michigan
Oct 31 2010 9:00P
The Frequency Madison, WI
Nov 1 2010 8:30P
Czar Bar Kansas City, MO
Nov 2 2010 8:00P
Casselman’s Denver, CO
Nov 3 2010 8:00P
Smitty’s Greenlight Tavern Pueblo, CO
Nov 4 2010 8:00P
Bar Delux Salt Lake City, Utah
Nov 5 2010 9:00P
The Palace Missoula, MT
Nov 6 2010 8:00P
SLABTOWN Portland, Oregon
Nov 7 2010 8:00P
Nectar lounge seattle, WA
Nov 10 2010 8:00P
SOL COLLECTIVE Sacramento, California
Nov 11 2010 8:00P
Cellar Door Visalia, CA
Nov 12 2010 8:00P
The Airliner Los Angeles, CA
Nov 14 2010 8:00P
Club 856 Stockton, CA