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Monday, September 25, 2023


Nothing to be on the Fences about

Fences is the alias for Seattle-based indie musician Christopher Mansfield. Fences will perform at Warehouse Live tonight at 8 p.m. | Photo Courtesy of Big Hassle Media

If you’re looking to add another great indie artist to your iTunes library, look no further than Seattle-based singer-songwriter Christopher Mansfield of Fences.

His self-titled album was produced by Sara Quin of Tegan & Sara and released on Sept. 28. Though Mansfield is edgy in appearance, his music bears similarities to the likes of Elliot Smith, Bright Eyes and Mates of State. He also studied jazz at Berklee College of Music and was on Spin Magazine’s “10 Best Albums You Might Have Missed in 2010” list. The Daily Cougar had a chance to interview the musician while he was en-route to Houston for his show at Warehouse Live tonight.

Q: Your album was produced by Sara Quin of Tegan & Sara. How did she influence the album?

A: I think she was more inclined to leave the material the way it was meant to be. I think she just wanted to capture what already existed. There were a few times where she added some vocal harmonies, just really minor stuff.

Q: You studied jazz at Berklee College of Music. How has that influenced your music?

A: Well it hasn’t changed the album much, but it has influenced my musical taste, which influences the stuff that I write — you want to write music that you like. Had I not gone to Berklee, I don’t think there would be as many minor-key effects, underlying melodies or non-traditional chord formation. Just all the things that kind of sound interesting to me.

Q: What bands have influenced your music?

A: I can’t really say that I was trying to sound like anyone in particular. There have been a bunch of records, though. Bands like The Cure, really snappy, poppy music that conveys strong emotional content. You go through phases where you don’t have a band and you just go through your own stuff and correct everything. It’s been nice to be actually corrected — you know, to deliver what’s in my head correctly.

Q: How did you get started as a musician?

A: When I was a little kid, my mom’s coworker gave me a guitar and then I played bass and listened to Rush records and I had a pretty typical white trash vinyl collection. Whatever was fast was cool. I just listened to a bunch of records and took lessons seriously.

Q: If you weren’t making music, what would you be doing?

A: I kind of always wanted to be an actor. I’d like to be in film, probably, if we’re talking about what I dream of doing. It’s weird to step on stage and be that person, I feel like I’m acting in a play and the goal is to play music…I have to act completely natural while there’s bright lights and people screaming at me.

Q: What are your favorite songs from the album?

A: Probably “Sadie” or “Same Tattoos.” I think “Same Tattoos” is really captures my sound, lyrically and melodically. Also, “My Girl the Horse” — I think it turned out beautifully. It was originally just a song that I was singing to my roommate’s dog and it turned into a song for the album. I kind of like “My Girl the Horse” because lyrically, it’s relatively vague and people can make it whatever they want.

Q: There’s a lot of traveling between shows. What do you have to have with you when you’re on the road?

A: I definitely have to have my phone, just to keep in contact with people. Technology is really important, it’s just part of the job. I have an app on my phone that talks you into relaxation and sleep and I always sleep with the sound of fake rain in my headphones. Of course, clean clothes and a bathroom bag — it’s kind of like “Eurotrip” with the plastic container.

Q: If there’s one thing you want people to know about your music or gain from your music, what would it be?

A: I’m not trying to bulls**t anyone or hop on any bandwagon of the music scene. I really love doing this and I appreciate every last person that comes to the shows and listens to the album. I’m really grateful and I’m not just trying to do it because it’s cool or because I don’t know what else to do; it really means the world to me.

Fences is performing at Warehouse Live tonight with Against Me! and Cheap Girls. Doors open at 8:00 p.m.

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