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First Person

The Experience Questionnaire: Aimee Mann

Aimee Mann is a musician who got her start as the bassist and vocalist for the band Til Tuesday. She is a former Berklee College of Music student, and her 2017 album Mental Illness was her first solo release in five years.

Where do you come up with your best ideas?  
It depends on what’s going on in my life, and also partly where I am physically, because if I’m on tour I’ll be more in a performing headspace than a creating headspace. Having a dedicated space to do the work to allow ideas to come through is key.  

What is the best non-material gift you’ve received? 
A living room performance of a scene from “Rosemary’s Baby” by two of my friends. 

What is the best non-material gift you’ve given? 
I recently wrote a song for my friend Jimmy Smagula’s birthday that made him really happy, so that was nice. 

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced? 
Not getting discouraged by the algorithm.  

If you had to choose a different profession, what would you do? 
I don’t know; this job is for people who can’t fit in anywhere else.  

What is the most useful mistake you’ve made?
I try to learn from mistakes, but of course, if something good comes from a mistake, it doesn’t look much like a mistake anymore. 

“This job is for people who can’t fit in anywhere else.”

What’s the strangest experience you’ve had? 
I lived in England for a while and was befriended by a Member of Parliament named Tony Banks. Finding myself having dinner at the House of Commons was truly bizarre.  

What opportunity do you regret passing up? 
Anything I’ve passed up has usually been because of a lack of skill or stamina, but it’s not like I look back and imagine it could have gone any differently.    

How do you relax? 
Lots of crossword puzzles, books, and super-dumb text threads with friends. 

If you could go anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would you go? 
I’ve always wanted to visit the Black Forest. 

What is your most indelible childhood memory?
Teaching myself how to tie my shoes when I was three. 

What’s the most valuable thing you learned in school? 
When I was at Berklee College of Music, learning that practice can improve ANYTHING was life changing.

When you’re stuck how do you get unstuck? 
I have lots of little games I play when I’m stuck writing a song. Sometimes I’ll just start moving my hands randomly on the piano in the kind of feel I want, and let the accidental chords I play start something. 

What is your proudest moment?
Hearing John Mulaney sing a song I wrote for “The 24 Hour Musicals.” 

What would you like to experience before you die?  
The reversal of climate change. 

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Photo by Matt Rourke/Associated Press

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