Behind this band is Mandala, who sings and does all the music, often with piano, which is then disguised as other instruments in the songs. When not performing as Witherwings, she can be found cosplaying Fleur at cons. Here's what she answered to my questions.
How did you get into wizard rock?
My first exposure to wizard rock was a Harry and the Potters show in, I think, late 2006. I couldn't believe the venue was packed with all these other Potter fans and there were bubbles and balloons and general craziness. I was in heaven!
I started my wrock band Witherwings a few months after Phoenix Rising, the HP symposium in New Orleans in 2007. It was an opportunity to start writing my own lyrics and music that I would actually share with strangers because I saw how loving and supportive the community was. I had been in a muggle band for a few years at that point, but had been too bashful to try out a project of my own.
I chose Witherwings for several reasons. First of all, I liked that it was a lesser known name - an alias. It was also quite fitting for me as my day job was working with over 100 species of birds. A name with "wings" in it just seemed appropriate :)
What characters, topics and themes do you write songs about ? Do you have a certain point of view?
I never intended to write songs from only one point of view, which is good considering I picked such a small character who cannot even speak. Then again, Matt seems to have made a career of singing songs from the point of view of a tree. So it can be done! I just write about themes that stick with me or story lines that I can relate to.
I have a song called Be S.M.A.R.T. that is my version of S.P.E.W. that calls for protection of magical creatures. Wizards are not so kind of the animals in the HP books. So "forget S.P.E.W. be S.M.A.R.T think of the creatures and have a heart. I need you to implement the Society for Magical Animal Respect and Treatment!" Then in the next breath I might sing about something serious like Harry's last walk to face his death. Then creep you out with scary lyrics about young Tom Riddle, and then sing a song from Buckbeak's point of view about eating Malfoy, in ferret form, as a tasty snack. I am all over the place.
What kind of musical style do you have, and what makes your music unique?
My music is a little bluesy, a little sassy, and sometimes just rocks-out. I love listening to bands with strong female singers. I get really inspired and want to rock-out too.
There are a lot of guitar-based bands, there are techno bands, and even girls who play piano, but there does not seem to be many piano-based rock-n-roll wrock bands out there. And then throw in the blues and sass and I think it makes my music unique.
Have you played live shows?
Witherwings has performed at libraries, bookstores, coffee shops, bars, house parties, YMCAs, and conventions including my biggest show ever at Infinitus in Orlando, Florida.
Who are your favourite wizard rockers?
My tastes in wrock reflect my tastes in muggle music in that, the genre doesn't matter as much as it needs to grab me in some emotional way. That doesn't mean it has to be sappy. It can be funny or clever or just be an idea told with pure feeling. I just love Oliver Boyd and the Remembralls. You can hear his heart in his voice. I also love The Weasel King, which I find in my car CD player more often than any other wrock CD. And my latest fascination is MC Kreacher, which is kind of funny because I do not listen to muggle rap, but man is he clever and I just can't wait to hear what he will say next.
Would you like to collaborate with other wizard rockers?
I would love to collaborate with other wrockers. I did a song a few years ago with Erin of the House of Black, and I really like getting to perform it with her. I love the camaraderie that comes from working on a song with someone, and I think in this case, it really shows when we perform it live.
What is the best moment you've had as a wrock fan?
I am not sure if there will ever be a show to top the wrock pub night at Infinitus. That was the biggest crowd I have ever played for. I honestly have no idea how many people were there. There was this one guy right in the center, a few rows back, that was just rockin' out to my songs. Pumping fists and everything. He was so awesome! As soon as my set ended, I ran to the merch table, grabbed my newest CD, and squeezed through the crowd to find him and give it to him. The audience was fantastic, but his enthusiastic reaction was priceless to me. Thank you tall, blond stranger! Thank you!
What has been the best moment as a wizard rocker?
I will never forget the first show I performed in Orlando at the big library downtown. It was a huge stage with lights and a great sound system. That was nothing though, to the shock of people singing along to my songs when I didn't even have a CD out yet. I couldn't believe that people listened to my MySpace enough times to have learned all the words! It was kind of emotional for me!
What future plans do you have with music?
I spent the last 6 months working on On Lighter and Darker Matters so I plan to take a break from recording to go out on tour. I have paired up with another female wrocker and we plan to announce fall tour dates soon!
Is there anything you want to say to your fans or fellow wrockers?
I am completely in awe of the opportunities wrock has given me. As a little girl, I dreamed of being a rock star, and because of this amazing fandom, and everyone's continued support and love, my dream is coming true. Thanks to everyone who has come to a show or has bought a CD. Every time you support wrock, you ensure that wrock will continue!
- Swept Away, released in 2008
- Witherwings Presents: Malfoy and other Musical Creations, released in 2009. "It is a limited edition, numbered CD with songs that were waiting for my next full-length CD, songs that would not appear anywhere else, and a few previously unreleased tracks that were either live or alternate versions (such as a guitar-based version of Letters From No One.)"
- On Lighter and Darker Matters, released in July 2010. "It is my best work to date. I poured my heart and soul into the lyrics and music as real life presented me with some extreme ups and downs. I could really relate to specific themes in the books and I am so proud of how it translated into songs."