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Q&A with Becca Mancari in advance of performance at The Jefferson Theater

Indie-pop artist Becca Mancari uses songwriting to delve into spirituality and queer identity

In advance of their performance, Mancari candidly discussed their recent record, a culmination of self-acceptance and lyrical lucidity.
In advance of their performance, Mancari candidly discussed their recent record, a culmination of self-acceptance and lyrical lucidity.

“Honey, where do you go when you got nowhere to hide,” sings Becca Mancari, an indie-pop artist from Nashville, on the opening track of their recent album “Left Hand.” Mancari’s music exudes transparency and emotional rawness, and their whispering, delicate vocals inspire listeners to follow suit. 

Mancari is set to return to Virginia to hit The Jefferson Theater Sept. 23, opening for artist Joy Oladokun before kicking off their own North American Tour. 

Mancari, whose parents live in Virginia, is no stranger to Charlottesville, even making sure to shout out East Main Street’s Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar during an interview with The Cavalier Daily. 

“I have deep roots in Virginia,” said Mancari. “The Jefferson is a bucket list show for me, so I’m really excited.” 

In advance of their performance, Mancari candidly discussed their recent record, a culmination of self-acceptance and lyrical lucidity.  

You shared in a previous interview that the symbol of the “Left Hand” is a reference to the Mancari family crest, which depicts a left hand holding a dagger. What does this image represent to you? 

“I tied it back to when kids were born with left hands back in the day, they oftentimes were made to use their right hands because the parents said, ‘It's unnatural,’ or ‘You're gonna live a harder life.’”

“I just thought that was so interesting that that was so embedded in my own story as being queer. Being told, ‘You're not normal, you have to change. You have to bend a certain way to fit into society.’ I just love that my last name, Mancari means left hand in Italian and I just thought, What a perfect image. What a perfect feeling. It felt rebellious to just love the imagery of this dagger, it felt powerful. I really wanted it to reflect in the record this feeling of defiance and self love.”

On one of the most intimate moments on the record, the title track “Left Hand” explores mental derealization through a conversational, stream of consciousness-like monologue, in which the speaker urges themselves to wake up, love themselves and forgive. In what ways does this track represent themes on the record as a whole?

“That is all truly a stream of consciousness. So I recorded that in this room that I'm speaking from right now. And on a little GarageBand session on a 58 mic, you know, and when I went back to it, I remember thinking, this is something you really can't recreate… it's almost like reading somebody's diaries, Iike reading somebody's notes themselves as they struggled to stay alive. The importance to me is that I think a lot of people feel this way, but they don't know how to say it.”

“It just allowed you to hear me be as vulnerable as I've ever been.”

You are open about having faced religious trauma while growing up in a Christian household, which stood as an obstacle to finding your identity as a queer person. How does this experience inform your songwriting?

“I think what happens in religion is what I think is so divisive... Love should be the anchor to all things, you know, and to me, I still have a spirituality that's part of my being and what I care about is bringing people together.”

“A song called "To Love The Earth," the last track on the record, really does speak to this new idea of spirituality. And I really value the fact that I was raised to believe in the unknown or the unseen. And I think for me, I translate that now as the magic of what it is to be a person and to fight for the earth that's literally dying around us, you know, not to go too dark, but it's true.”

“Being raised very religious, it was really, really difficult but it also gave me a lot of compassion. And I have a lot of understanding for people in a way that I don't regret. It helped me love people that hate me.”

Your music is often characterized by its lyrical vulnerability — do you find the process of being transparent about personal experiences in your lyrics to be somewhat arduous and vulnerable, or self affirming and strengthening? 

“I think very much both, I think you have to go through the vulnerable to get to the strength.”

“The difference with this record, because I feel it so deeply, I do feel exposed. And yet I do think that now, it's like, falling off the cliff and saying, ‘It's okay to allow people in, Becca, it's okay to let yourself be loved.’”

“We all have choices to make as artists. And I think for me, my music comes to me in a way that feels really, really vulnerable in a way that I can't describe. It's just like it was given to me and it saved me. So I hope it does the same for others.”

The record sees collaborations with boygenius’s Julian Baker, Paramore’s Zac Farro and Brittany Howard, all longtime friends. How would you describe the creative process working with these artists?

“When you get two really good friends, and I think two really great artists together, you can make magic, you know.”

“Collaboration like that is just so pure, and I get to celebrate my friends and what they do. And they could celebrate me.”

For our final question, I’d love to ask what you’re most looking forward to at the moment, particularly ahead of your upcoming tour dates?

“Whew… You know, I am really looking forward to translating the songs live with my band. We've worked really, really hard. We've just spent a month just playing through these new songs. And I leveled up in a different way.”

“Touring is so hard right now, getting people to buy a ticket is just like, 'I'll name my first child after you', You know what I mean? But I know that I'm committed to this for life.”

Not only does the album represent Mancari’s emotional maturity, but their musical maturity. “Left Hand” stands as Mancari’s first partially self-produced record, allowing for their creative control over the production process and total freedom of expression. 

“I feel really connected to it in a deeper way than anything I've actually ever put out,” Mancari said. 

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