Hailing from Katoomba, Australia, Mahne Frame  is no stranger to the many shades of isolation, something that has informed his musical and personal journeys over the past few years. Today he releases his third EP I Gave My Legs to a Snake at a very different point in his life, evolving from his musical beginnings of grainy electropunk to a more intentionally atmospheric type of rave-pop, with six hazy tracks that speak to a newfound level-headedness upon moving back to his hometown.
Distinctly different from the Tokyo cityscape Frame found himself in at the heigh of the pandemic, life in the Australian bush has coaxed a new sound out of him, focusing on a certain melancholy that Frame feels music allows him to explore. Following two stellar EPs that speak to a different kind of isolation, I Gave My Legs to a Snake paints a delicate picture of the vastness of his geographical and emotional situation, albeit a blurry one.
Firstly, congrats on your release on Monkeytown! Your EP gave me lots of moments of fuzzy goodness, with a little bit of melancholy. What sensations were you trying to emulate with it?
Thank you! I’ve signed with them for two more albums, so it’s the beginning of the next couple of years at least. I tend to write from an instinctual place rather than coming outta the gates with intention. And this is pretty stock, but I keep a lot of my emotions and convictions to myself and then put them in my music. It’s a way to release some pressure without force-feeding anyone. So, unfortunately, melancholy makes sense. Fuzzy goodness – I hope it’s in there.
Tell me a bit about your time in Tokyo a few years back. Were you stuck there during the pandemic? I’ve never been there myself but can imagine how influential the city would be on one’s musical development.
There were four years where I didn’t get home because of border restrictions and not wanting to end up separated from my wife. There were high highs and low lows and I’m grateful for both. It’s the most populated city in the world but the isolation was actually really important for starting this project. There’s two types of isolation, physical and mental.
Mental isolation is probably easier for me in the city, and add on the language barrier, plus at the time my wife and I were still using Google Translate to communicate. When I got there I deleted Instagram, my phone number and only gave my email to a couple of people. I managed to refresh and lose a lot of judgments and hangups and start this project from an honest place.
I read that you toured as a drummer with avant-garde pop artist Kirin J Callinan during this time. Is drumming still a part of your life? And any other instruments?
That was before Japan and the last show was in Tokyo. Big Love Records brought us over in 2018. I met my wife on that trip and moved over pretty quickly after that. Drums are the only instrument I can play and I got pretty jaded with them, but recently at 2 am I spent my last savings on a ‘70s Ludwig kit from the States, so I’m romanticising that as long as I can.
Upon moving back to Australia recently, to your hometown of Katoomba, what are some of the differences in environmental influences you’ve noticed? I would imagine producing in a little town in the Blue Mountains would give you more solitude in your creative process.
That’s sort of correct, but in a twisted way I was more lonely in Tokyo. I spent long periods of time in my own head over there. Everyone that comes to visit me here says time goes faster in Katoomba. I feel more level headed here and I think this EP does have a more consistent flow.
Did the title of the album, I gave my legs to a snake, have anything to do with being reunited with nature in a way? What’s the meaning behind it?
It’s more about deception and naivety and about channelling energy into the wrong people as a kind of self sabotage. It’s all in the lyrics of Vacation.
Looking to other EPs of yours, I noticed a lot more pitching and distorting of your vocals, for example in your first EP, Kiss my Ass, Death than in this newest release – I associated these earlier sounds with what influences a metropolis might present, and your newer sound with a more pared back environment.
I keep deflecting nature questions but maybe there’s something to it. It’s a nice thought. But also, I don’t know how to sing so I have to work out ways around that. When I got to Tokyo I couldn’t sing at all and I learned as much as I could through karaoke. Without karaoke I don’t think this project would exist.
Would you say I gave my legs to a snake is a more atmospheric EP than your first two, with less harsh textures than what might be heard earlier in your career? What happened to you artistically in the time between these releases?
Ok, that was actually intentional. I’m definitely trying to be less guarded and allow more fragility through into my music. I’m becoming more self-assured and nihilistic, so I’m not afraid of criticism landing in a soft spot. It actually feels kinda good.
Out of curiosity, do you have a personal favourite track on the album?
And finally, you’ve released a music video already for the song Walk Like and Flawed. Do they have a sort of shared narrative? How do they evoke the overall world of the album?
Yeah, Flawed is kind of the day after Walk Like. I’ve worked out how to move the stone but I still don’t know where I’m going with it. I mean that’s probably a good metaphor for my whole project so far, just slowly engineering each element and getting closer to a bigger picture that is still blurry. And if it ever becomes clear that might be the death of it.
Are there any more accompanying videos planned? And how about a tour?
Nothing at all.