Katherine Allan spoke to The Preatures leading lady Isabella Manfredi about getting the thumbs up from Pitchfork, learning to love Melbourne audiences, and the person she’d most like to get a Twitter shout-out from.
If you’ve been anywhere near a TV set, a radio, or a music blog in the last few months, chances are you’ve heard Sydney band The Preatures tune ‘Is This How You Feel?’ The catchy as hell pop-rock jam reached number one on Triple J’s airplay charts, has been streamed hundreds of thousands of times on YouTube and SoundCloud, and even played in THAT episode of Offspring. But despite the ongoing wave of success, it was still kind of a big deal for lead singer Isabella Manfredi when the notoriously fickle music blog Pitchfork picked the song out for their Best New Music series. “We all breathed a sigh of relief,” Manfredi tells me. “We were quite prepared to be ignored by Pitchfork, so for them to get on board with it was a big surprise for all of us.” While Manfredi describes the shout out from Pitchfork as a turning point for the band, she admits she wouldn’t have minded if the website had dismissed the song. “If we had been panned by Pitchfork I wouldn’t have been upset,” says Manfredi. “The worst thing you can have when you release something into the world is indifference. If it starts a conversation and someone has a reaction to it, then that’s the important thing.”
Pitchfork might have started a conversation, but The Preatures meteoric rise was truly confirmed by Manfredi’s recent win in the Vanda and Young Songwriting competition, an industry voted award previously won by artists such as Kimbra and Megan Washington. ‘Is This How You Feel?’ scored the band $50,000 cash, but for Manfredi it’s just as exciting to see a shining light on Australia’s burgeoning music scene. “Vanda and Young is so great because it creates a snapshot of what’s happening in the music community in Australia,” she says. Manfredi was in The Preatures Sydney studio recording demo tracks for the band’s forthcoming debut record when they heard the news, and while they were blown away by the win she says it didn’t spark a huge change in the band’s workload. “To win that amount of money is a huge leg up from APRA, and it’s a huge vote of confidence in us. It’s phenomenal, but we’d still be doing what we’re doing now if we didn’t win.”
the band is doing now is gearing up to embark on a nationwide tour, including three sold out dates at the Northcote Social Club. Manfredi admits that while the band loves playing in Melbourne, it hasn’t always been the easiest city to win over. “It takes a while to get used to Melbourne audiences. They’re a very particular audience, but as soon as you understand that they’re actually the most receptive audience in Australia it changes the way that you perform.” Melbourne audiences are certainly familiar with The Preatures. The band was just in town supporting LA band HAIM during their recent Splendour In The Grass sideshows, which Manfredi describes as an amazing experience. HAIM aren’t the only international artists impressed by The Preatures sweet sound. They’ve had tweets of praise from all over the globe, including one from Tegan and Sara, but who’s the one person Manfredi would love to get a tweet of approval from? “Probably Dr Karl,” says Manfredi with affection. “I think that would be pretty cool”.
‘Is This How You Feel?’ is out now on Mercury Records.