Electro-pop up-and-comer, laser lover and self-professed sci-fi nerd, MNDR’s Amanda Warner takes us where no man has gone before—on a star trek of sorts through Chelsea’s best-kept secrets.
“Oh my god, I love Battlestar Galactica!” screams New York–based techno-pop juggernaut Amanda Warner. Apparently, she’s a science fiction fan. “You’re planning to write about how nerdy I am, aren’t you?” But the Fargo-born Warner—one half of retro-futuristic dance-pop outfit MNDR, alongside producer and collaborator Peter Wade—isn’t afraid to embrace her fangirl side. Over the course of an afternoon in May, she betrays a fondness for Blade Runner, legendary sci-fi author Robert A. Heinlein and, yes, Battlestar. Given the amount of time she spends in Wade’s Chelsea recording studio and the fact that she designed the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ synthesizer rig, it should come as no surprise that Warner treats music-making gizmos like old friends. “Different drum machines have their own personalities,” she says. “Some were made to be really synthetic. Some are stiff. Some can swing. I like trying to understand what makes each one special. But machines aren’t my slaves like they are in science fiction stories—they’re my little buddies.”
Warner moved from Oakland, California, to New York a year ago to work as a songwriter for hire. But it was only after meeting Wade that she began to consider fronting her own act. Before long, MNDR was opening for bands like Yacht, Massive Attack and Deerhoof. “It was totally natural,” says Wade of his partner’s career shift. “She was confident as soon as she stepped out from behind the table. It’s like there are laser beams shining on her at all times.” Together, the duo uploaded four tracks to MySpace last year. Glowing word of mouth spread like wildfire, and the songs eventually morphed into MNDR’s debut EP, E.P.E. Mega-producers Diplo and Mark Ronson have already remixed two of their tracks, and the band is currently at work on their first full-length album, tentatively scheduled for release late this fall.
Prior to landing in the Big Apple, Warner had been skipping around the country with the careless attitude of a true nomad. But she intends to stick around Manhattan for a while. “New York has been really warm to me, which has been nice because it’s a really discerning city,” she says. “It makes me a better musician, because everything I do here matters on some level. I have to be good at every show. There’s something liberating about that.”
This ‘N’ That Jewelry 124 W. 25th Street I got really into loud jewelry about four years ago. When I go home to the Midwest, there’s always hilarious grandma jewelry at flea markets. I have a collection of gaudy peacock broaches that are like that—sparkly and beautiful. It reminds me of my grandmas and my old neighbor, who made jewelry. She pounded metal and smelted stuff. It was totally amazing and not crafty looking, but loud in a way that only grandmas can pull off.
Black Door 127 W. 26th Street I like a dry, dirty vodka martini if I’m drinking, or bitters and soda with lime if I’m not drinking. When I lived in Minneapolis, I would drink every night. And then I moved to California, to the Bay Area, and I’d be like, Hey guys, let’s go to the bar! And they’d be like, “What are you talking about? What bar?” The next thing I knew, I was doing yoga and running every day. Now that I’m in New York, I’m back on the sauce.
Ace Hotel 20 W. 29th Street I come here [Stumptown Coffee Roasters inside the hotel] for coffee. Sometimes Peter and I make bets, and if one of us loses the bet, we have to buy the other one drinks at one of the bars at Ace. It’s really expensive here, so you don’t want to lose many bets. We were at South by Southwest recently at this shitty hotel, and we decided to go to the pool. I was like, I’m bringing a towel. He was like, “They’ll have towels at the pool.” I was like, Yeah right, dude. No way. In this shitty hotel? We got down there, and—of course—there were towels at the pool. I bought him drinks at Ace as soon as we came back.
Madison Square Park We go here to eat lunch because Peter’s studio has no windows. I feel like we don’t get enough Vitamin D. Chelsea is like vanilla, in a weird way. I enjoy how blank it is—you don’t really run into anyone there. It’s just people living their lives. It’s a good place to focus. That’s why I come here, so we can judge people and talk about them.
Johny’s Grill & Luncheonette 124 W. 25th Street I come here at least twice a week. On Wednesdays, I get the split pea soup because it’s the next level of delicious. Johny is sort of like my best friend. He makes great diner coffee. I haven’t eaten diner-style for so long, because in California I would only go to a taquería or a taco truck. Hey Johny! I think that’s my tuna fish sandwich.
Photography by Marley Kate Styling by Allison Miller Hair and makeup by Rika Shimada forMake Up For Ever