Becca Mancari: “I’m excited for cities that really need queer artists to come through.” (9/25 at The Foundry)

“I just want Philly to know I deeply want to build a fanbase there.  I really respect Philly, because y’all are so real,” says Nashville-based musician Becca Mancari during...

“I just want Philly to know I deeply want to build a fanbase there.  I really respect Philly, because y’all are so real,” says Nashville-based musician Becca Mancari during a recent phone chat.  They go on to add, “They’re such great music fans, but you have to win them over.  You have to crack them open!”  Last Friday Becca released Left Hand, their third full-length (via Captured Tracks), and they’re about to hit the road, starting September 10th, supporting Joy Oladokun, before kicking off their own headlining run on September 25th, right here at The Foundry at The Fillmore.  “Okay! SO, do I have fans in Philly? I am playing there on on Sept 25th at The Foundry and really want to work on getting folks out will you spread the news with me?!” Becca Tweeted on August 30th.

During our chat, I found out that the reason behind Becca’s enthusiasm is because, despite being born in Staten Island, they actually grew up in the area: “Y’all are like my hometown in a lot of ways…  I remember going to Sisters as a baby gay…  My first gf went to UPenn, and I was a lot younger than her [laughs].”  And joining Becca for the first batch of dates will be Nashville indie rock singer/songwriter Wilby, who is actually from the suburbs of Philadelphia, herself.  “It’ll be like a Philly show!” Mancari proclaims.  Although it’s not just the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection that Becca is excited about.  New York holds a special place in their heart, both because of their roots and because that’s where Captured Tracks is based.  But they admit that they’re happy to play, “any place that is down to listen to music,” and tell me that they actually like the idea of playing a lot of the smaller cities, such as Pittsburgh and Boise: “I’m excited for cities that really need queer artists to come through.  That’s part of the reason for doing this tour.”

Becca tells me that this very sentiment is something that they felt upon moving to Nashville: “It has been amazing, but it was very difficult when I got here.  Being an openly queer artists was just not accepted when I got here, but I think I helped open that door for change…  In a weird way, I’m able to grow more here, because I have to fight more…”  And Left Hand features a handful of Becca’s closest Nashville-based musical friends, including Julien Baker, Brittany Howard (former vocalist for Alabama Shakes and current bandmate of Mancari’s in Bermuda Triangle), and Paramore drummer (and Elke’s significant other) Zac Farro.

Left Hand lead single “Over And Over” — which Paste called, “dancey and lighthearted, a slice of pure indie pop at its best” — features Julien Baker on backing vocals.  The second of three singles (both released in June), “Don’t Even Worry,” is a collaboration with Brittany Howard, who co-wrote the song, in addition to playing a bevy of instruments on it.  The song had The New York Times saying, “In dire times, Becca Mancari offers determined reassurance with ‘Don’t Even Worry’… a whispery, unthreatening voice that somehow isn’t overwhelmed by a brawny beat, a forthright string section or Brittany Howard’s vocal harmonies.”  However, Becca admits to me that it was actually the hardest song on the album to record, “Just because when we started the song, it was a demo.  We were just two friends having fun, but the parts were so good [Brittany provides backing vocals, guitar, keys, sub bass, percussion, and snaps on the song.], I didn’t want to lose it!”  And when I ask Becca if there are any artists they dream of collaborating with, outside of their close circle of friends, they admit, “There are many people that I fanboy for, but I’d say Leslie Feist.  What an icon!  She does her own thing and does these iconic records that are just massive.”

The album has been getting rave reviews, both from critics and fans, who have been telling Mancari things like, “’Becca, I knew it was gonna be good, but I didn’t know it would be this good,’ and “This is next level for you!” for which they explain, “It’s very word-of-mouth right now, like a ripple effect.”  However, Becca admits to me that, unlike 2020 sophomore album, The Greatest Part, they didn’t always know how or if the latest LP would come together.

“It was such a different process…  I had started this record at the end of 2021, and then worked on it intensively in 2022.  And, at the time, I was kind of considering what I wanted to do with my life, and doing that on social media.  I went through some really personal things that kind of chipped at my perspective.”

These hardships that Becca struggled through include illness in their family and a troublesome studio session with the songs’ intended producer.  However, that led Becca to get introspective and take control of both their personal life and their art, going on to grant themselves the freedom to experiment more than with previous releases, doing a lot of it on GarageBand, and self-producing the album, with co-production from Juan Soloranzo, who has played on all of Mancari’s releases, and mixing courtesy of Carlos de la Garza, who produced their buddies in Paramore’s last record.

Becca’s latest album art and music videos have the singer/songwriter in stylishly oversized suits, baggy jeans, various leathers, and even ruffles.  Inquiring about their sartorial tastes, Becca tells me, “I like to present in a way to feel strong and powerful.  Like, for the album shoot, I wanted it to look like putting on some kind of queer armor.” They also tell me that this is something that’s especially meaningful to them, before revealing another aspect of their appearance that they’re currently working on: “I think as a queer person, the way we put on clothes is very particular to being queer and our experience with our body…  I haven’t announced this yet, but I’m trying to get top surgery, maybe this winter.”  However, the mood with which they announce this is far from intense, with Becca as lighthearted as they were when discussing their younger self haunting Philadelphia’s Gayborhood.  And that’s not the only thing that Becca is excited about in the near future.  When I ask them what they have planned for after their current batch of live dates, with possibly a bit of a hint, they tell me that a very big announcement will be happening in the very near future: “I have a really cool opening tour early next year.  I’m opening up literally for my heroes, my queer icons… Do what you want with that…”

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During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.