In a largely male-dominated genre, MAMA is an impassioned catalyst, unafraid to tackle the status quo head-on with its raw and subversive pure energy.

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In a captivating collision of rebellion and sonic experimentation, MAMA Ft. Antonella delivers us a brand new, formidable force in the realm of EDM.

With a fresh and distinctive sound, MAMA is uncompromising, unfiltered – and the antidote to what ails you. This week, we have the pleasure of chatting with MAMA front-woman Antonella, who is transforming the music scene… One rebellion at a time.

Image Courtesy of: Derek Ridgers | Agent: Sarah Appelhans

So, Antonella – how did you and Gavin first meet?

I needed a producer, and a record company CEO told me that Gavin was a genius and I should move heaven and earth to work with him. At the time, I had a band; after listening to the track I sent through, Gavin said, “Your voice!” But he wanted the musicians gone, which was awkward. His manner was abrupt but fundamentally respectful. Gavin has no tolerance for nonsense in the studio – it’s all about the music. He loves music.

The issue was that I had almost no confidence in my singing. Add this to the fact that I’d lost my voice from nerves two or so weeks earlier and you can imagine my terror. There I was with a multi-platinum award-winning British producer who has Robert Plant dropping in for tea and who has worked with some of the finest musicians in the world, and I was dying.

He’s constantly batting away offers to join bands. While he loves performing, he absolutely detested touring with the Cult, Zodiac Mindwarp and others, so he stepped into Mama very gingerly – one toe at a time. And then it became a no-brainer. When we work together, everything just makes sense. We get on so incredibly well. I’ve never really collaborated before – writing is so internalised – so the whole experience is such a joy, even when we clash over my relentless, agonising perfectionism.

I need every little detail to be right or I can’t function – it’s like hearing fingernails down a blackboard. Gavin is significantly more fun, all heart and instinct. He’s just wonderful.

Tell me more about Mama ft. Antonella. How would you describe your sound and style?

After working on my song, Gavin decided that he didn’t like it, so it was never released. I was devastated – I’d worked on that song for months with the band. Gavin explained that he wanted me to change genres on the basis that I needed a “bigger framework” for my voice. So we decided to go with dance, which we both madly love, but it ended up being a fusion of Berlin techno and punk nouveau, which was something of a surprise. I just sang the song as I felt it – I do that with all our songs – so the feelings weren’t premeditated. They just came out.

When I sing, I go into a kind of fugue state; afterwards, I can’t really remember what I said or did. It’s the opposite of working on a book, where every word – every thought – is calibrated. Music is just so freeing. Oddly, that has taken some getting used to, as I was accustomed to siphoning emotion through my mind. I was like an animal that just sits there, baffled, when its cage door is opened, incapable of understanding that the barriers have gone.

Our first album is techno/industrial with a few surprises. Expect a lot of pounding bass and drums. Expect to dance!

Tell me about your debut single, “I Want What I Want”. What is the inspiration for the track and how did it come about?

Gavin sent me the music and told me to come up with a killer top line and lyrics. No pressure, then. He’s very tough in this way, rejecting this and that.

The goal with I Want What I Want was to make it sound like the underground raves Gavin used to go to in Berlin – all amyl and tribal dancing, that whole statues-of-angels-against-the-darkening sky-vibe with people in heavy black coats in the subways. Using 8-bit samples and classic analogue equipment, he recreated the very same pulsing industrial and early techno sound.

I wrote the lyrics after seeing a TikTok video of a woman expressing her acceptance that she will never be her lover’s priority, and that he will hurt, and eventually leave, her – you know, that whole Retro Victimhood thing, where women are made to feel validated in their love by being trivialised or ignored. That “I’m nothing without a man” attitude drives me up the wall; it’s not only pathetic, but really dangerous. UN data reveals that around 140 women are murdered every day. I mean, insane. And the more women accept being secondary, the more they normalise submission, and the less human we become in the eyes of men.

So I Want What I Want is really the counterpoint to that deadness – it’s a song that emphasises feminine power, written to make women feel as if their desires not only matter, but are, at times, the only priority … not in terms of presenting the feminine through a patriarchal prism, like WAP, where the feminine ideal is, in essence, presented as being a bottom bitch – ‘Look at me, I’m the freakiest of all your hoes!’ – but in terms of a woman’s refusal to play anyone else’s game. You know, like that fantastic English expression meaning uncooperative: arsey.

We’ve been blown away by the response on Spotify – over 13K streams in no time at all, with no advertising or gigs, ever. So that has been amazing.

Who are your major musical influences – and how have they impacted your music?

Gavin and I are relatively different in our musical tastes although we meet in certain territories – the Sex Pistols, say, whom we both passionately love. Amy Winehouse, Patti Smith, Nirvana. We both adore Die Antwoord’s music although their behaviour is sick-making, and – this is weird – we’re both devoted fans of Taylor Swift, although it took me longer to convert.

I’m completely entranced by Florence Welch – I cannot get enough of her; I stalk her online to the point of watching videos about her taste in interior design. She is extraordinary, wild, magnificent. I saw her in Bournemouth a few months ago – one of the three best performances I’ve ever seen and as a former NME critic, I’ve seen a few.

Gavin has a deep love for really noisy music – Atari Teenage Riot, early Iggy – whereas my thing is dark slowcore – Lana del Rey’s American Whore, Nietzsche by the Dandies, Waiter by Moses.

What do you want listeners to take away from Mama feat. Antonella?

The goal has always been to get people on their feet. We love the idea of shaking free the stresses of work and all responsibility in order to return to the animal self, if only for a few hours. And through the lyrics, I’d like to make women and the LGBTQ+ crew in particular feel empowered – to feel as if our needs and desires matter, as if we don’t need to conform or tone it down to belong. Imagine being loved in your entirety. That feeling.

Has anyone ever criticised your music/work for being too political or feminist? If so, how do you respond to these criticisms?

Not to my face! I’m pretty logical, so I don’t come at an argument without substantial evidence. People often disagree with me until they hear the explanation. I don’t bring the same intellectual weight to music if only because it’s a realm of feeling rather than calculation.

Despite the Second Dan black belt in karate and weaponry skills, Gavin is the emotional one.

Do you see your music as playing a role in the larger feminist movement?

I would love that to be the case. It would be hard to think of anything that appealed to me more. The next single is very, very, very much along those lines. It was, in fact, inspired by two trans girls. Another dream would be to have our music played in fashion shows. As a former Vogue, Elle and Harper’s Bazaar writer, I love fashion. Love it, love it, love it. Don’t get me started!

Any upcoming tours or shows coming up?

Yes! We plan to go properly live a little later in the year, when all the mayhem of the English summer has died down. Gavin has a lot of ideas for the live shows – his capacity for creativity is bottomless – so they should be great fun.

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