Agnes Manners is the brainchild of Matt Gravolin, the former principal songwriter and guitarist for beloved Sydney hardcore heroes, Hellions.
Gravolin debuted his first release under Agnes Manners last month with ‘As Long as You’re Mine’. A lush and radiant sax-laden pop ballad recorded with longtime collaborator producer Shane Edwards, with guest vocals from Gravolin’s girlfriend and creative contemporary, Charlotte Gilpin of Dream State. Agnes Manners is back with another cut, ‘Sydney’, and he’s recruited the help of John Floreani of Trophy Eyes.
“During that recording trip, I ambled down to a beach after a long night at the bar to try and get a voice recording of sea sounds to put in one of the songs.
“I had too much to drink and I ended up vomiting on the beach—I forgot that the voice memo was still recording all the while. I revisited the recording the next day and salvaged the sound of me being sick over the sounds of waves. After some cutting, the result can be heard at the end of ‘Sydney’. Although admittedly a bit uncouth, I feel that it suits the lyrical content of the song.”
To celebrate the release of ‘Sydney’, we sent Matt through a bunch of burning Get To Know questions. Listen to the track below and get to know all about Agnes Manners.
Check out ‘Sydney’ by Agnes Manners:
How did your artist name come about?
I felt that a female moniker best reflected the androgynous nature of the music and lyrics of this new project. I’ve always liked the name ‘Agnes’, it’s succinct and distinguished in a creepy way. I’ve had a folder named ‘Manners’ on the desktop of every computer I’ve owned, any musical idea that was incongruent to the bands I played in would go in there. ‘Manners’ seemed like the appropriate designation for the way the words and music tended to feel. The two words came together and stuck in my mind when it was time to give this project a name.
How would you describe your music to your grandma?
“It’s like the other band [Hellions] but with quieter guitars, less yelling and slower songs”
Tell us about a few of your tracks; their titles and what they’re about?
‘Sincerity In Retrograde’ is a two-movement satire on pop culture that’s embittered, sarcastic and sincere in turns. It’s the most heavily orchestrated song I’ve written to date and the first song I’ve written that features a chorus without vocal. It was founded upon a traditional-sounding folk chord progression and I made a test of widening the scope of it as far as I could.
The title of ‘Spiced Plum and Cherry’ was conceived whilst reading the back label of the wine bottle I was drinking while composing the song, I wanted a working title that elucidated the mood of the moment and the reclusive tone of the music. I envisioned a clawed hand brandishing a wine glass by the bowl, I contemplated that image and the character behind the hand and went from there – it’s the first song I’ve written where the lyrics are informed by the title and not the other way around. It ended up as a sort of meditation on the shadow self. I made a new friend by the name of Flora Von Zitzewitz during the recording process and she was kind enough to translate the chorus lyric into French and sing the outro for me – her performance really solidified the eerie vibe I was after.
‘As Long As You’re Mine’ began as a paean to my partner Charlotte, who features in the middle eight and final chorus of the song. I built the verses around the feeling of hope that the chorus gave me. It was an ordinary ballad until Shane and I stumbled across some drum loops that gave the songs its 90’s R&B feel and galvanised us into recording a more energetic vocal performance.
What do you love about your hometown?
My family and Hellions.
Check out ‘As Long as You’re Mine’ by Agnes Manners:
Career highlight so far?
There was magic in the air during the Hellions performance at Unify 2018, I still can’t quite explain it. The five of us (Jem Siow of Endless Heights played bass with us) and the audience were one in spirit, it was like this beautiful exorcism. We were all in tears when we came off, as were the friends and family that accompanied us. It was as close to a holy experience as I’ve encountered
Fave non-music hobby?
I like to read and watch movies.
What’s on your dream rider?
Jameson, coke, beer and tequila. Nothing too fancy!
Dream music collaboration?
To work alongside Frank Ocean would be insane.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Dying slowly in service of authorship.
What’s your go-to karaoke song?
The George Harrison version of ‘Got My Mind Set On You’.