Since the begining of their friendship, Maya Vilaplana ’14 and Joel Mandella ’14 have been creating and sharing their music with the Macalester Community. Their songs range from love ballads about fictional Macalester students to Veggie co-op housing applications. The Mac Weekly sat down with them this week to hear about their songs, their relationship, and most of all their love for vegetables.
Maya Villaplana: Please preface this interview with the fact that Joel is really stressed because he never sleeps and is the busiest person?
Joel Mandella: Can we not say that?
If you don’t want something reported, say “off the record.”
JM: Fine, just put it in brackets. [Joel stressed, Maya bubbly].
Why are you stressed?
JM: I’m not saying but let’s just pretend that it’s a big deal. Today is the only day I’ve been stressed. I haven’t been stressed in…well a long time.
MV: Joel isn’t human. We have a saying in our house that Joel isn’t human because he does everything that the rest of us do, but then stays up all night doing the work he was supposed to be do for school. Then he goes to yoga and then to school and is just a happy person all the time.
JM: Maya thinks that I’m a cyborg or a robot and that I pretend to complain about these things so I can fit into a normal society.
MV: He only eats so that he can give off the impression that he’s an actual person.
JV: Mmm… wow that food was really good. I really needed that to sustain myself.
MV: Ok you can start the interview now.
I’ve already started recording. All of that is going in the interview.
MV: Oh, wow! That’ll be interesting.
When did you first meet?
MV: Orientation, right?
JM: Yeah, I sat at the table that you and your dad were chilling at.
MV: Oh yeah the confirmation dinner? Concoction?
JM: Oh yeah the concoction dinner. I enjoyed that food. I needed that to sustain myself.
MV: Yeah convocation was super awkward because my dad didn’t want to be there, so we stayed for about two minutes.
JM: I thought that you were in my FYC and I randomly wrote about it to my FYC professor. He just wrote back saying, “I’ve looked up her school picture and transcript, and she definitely was not in my class.”
MV: But we were in the same orientation group. Shout out to Jay Schwartz. Actually, my earliest memory of you is at the state fair. So we got there, couldn’t find anyone and just ended up walking around, talking for hours and joining a bunch of little kids who were learning a dance. We can actually do it for you if you want?
Sure, go right ahead.
JM: Can we add a video component to this interview? But remember that dancing is not our forté.
JM & MV: Don’t blame it on the sunshine, don’t blame it on the moonlight, don’t blame it on the good times.
MV: Now do the stanky leg!
JM: Oh yeah! I forgot that part.
MV: Wow you have no rhythm. So yeah we learned that with a bunch of little kids and then there were some old people waltzing and we did that too.
What were your first impressions of each other?
MV: He was a hippie. He had this hemp necklace that he’d been wearing for like ten years. I think it was growing mold.
JM: Yeah it ended in a severe infection. It was either my neck or the necklace that had to go.
MV: Yeah, all I remember was the hemp and thinking, “Thank God he doesn’t look like he’s senior year photo cuz then I’d be attracted to him.”
JM: What a relief!
MV: What about your first impression of me?
JM: After we started hanging out I was like, how does this girl ever do work? How does she find time? And then I realized you just don’t.
MV: Jerk. Elliot likes to say that I’m efficient.
When did you realize that you were best friends?
JM: Funny story, we’re not. We’re not even Facebook friends.
I gave her one chance. I was moving the mouse back and forth and I said “click on accept or cancel whatever it lands on, we’re gonna stick with that. Forever.” and she landed on cancel, so we’re not friends.
MV: Does that make any sense?
JM: It’s actually pretty inconvenient for our music relationship.
MV: True, but it’s kinda nice because I don’t have to be bothered by all the stupid stuff that would probably be happening on your Facebook. I was actually scared to move in with him, though, because I thought that he’d take every chance that he got to hack onto my Facebook when my computer was on.
JM: Yeah I used to do that a lot.
What did you do to her Facebook profile?
JM: I would just, you know, write about vegetables or hitting people with vegetables.
MV: One time I changed his info and he didn’t find out for two years.
JM: Yeah I was back home in Berkley and I just started cracking up because I saw this info that I had no recollection of writing, but then I realized that it must have been Maya. It was just too weird and vegetable-related to be anyone else.
MV: But yeah we’re not friends.
Why do vegetables keep popping up in this interview?
JM: It’s because of our—well, my—pent up frustration with not getting into the veggie co-op our sophomore year.
MV: Sophomore year we jointly applied to be in the veggie co-op but we got rejected because we didn’t answer any of the questions on the application.
JM: All we did was turn in a song.
MV: Yeah we wrote a song that was a creative and an artistic expression of our answers, and we thought that people would pick up on that.
JM: It was like a parable of our application.
MV: Our vegetarianism.
JM: And our necessary contact info.
MV: But yeah I got to live there later without Joel. But I think that the vegetable stuff happened before that, when we used to eat in Cafe Mac. Joel would stuff his pockets with vegetables and fruit. What did I say your room would smell like?
JM: Butt and oranges. But that’s off the record.
MV: No, that’s on the record. His room would smell like butt and oranges.
JM: Yeah but it’s different now. On the record.
So vegetables and music are the fabric of your friendship?
JM: Yeah, this stuff is really coming together.
How long have you guys been playing together?
MV: Forever. Since freshmen year. Joel said he was a guitarist and then blew us away with his skills. I think it goes back to the vegetable song.
JM: No, it goes back to Andrew Yansen. That was the first or second month of school. We didn’t even know Andrew really.
MV: We wrote a tribute song to Andrew Yansen, who is not a real person.
JM: Well, he could be a real person. It was supposed to be someone who applied to Macalester. We thought it was funny because my now-best-friend is named Andrew Hansen. And so we wrote a song for Andrew Hanson about Andrew Yanson.
MV: We imagined that they were the same person or maybe alter egos. He was either an evil twin or the same person.
JM: Right, we were trying to decide which it was.
MV: It was really a fantasy song. So I could express all my inner longing for Andrew Hansen but just say Andrew Yansen instead, so that he wouldn’t get freaked out. But he did get freaked out.
JM: Yeah we presented it to him in Cafe Mac while we barely knew him. We just handed him a CD with a song about him.
MV: So that was our first hit, and then we didn’t really do any music from freshmen year until senior year.
JM: Once in a while we did some covers.
MV: We won’t say the names. Ok we did some Regina Spektor covers.
JM: Shout out to Regina.
MV: This year we did some covers, performed at a farmer’s market and one day, Joel wrote this amazing, original song.
JM: Well we were playing around one night and you started making a beautiful melody and then I was like wow, that sounds really good and from there we made the beginning of a song.
What was the name of your first song?
JM: We’re really bad at names obviously since we still don’t have a band name.
JM: But I guess we have it listed in Itunes as Don’t Tell Him.
MV: Yeah, Don’t Tell Em.
JM: Him not Em.
Have you ever visited each other’s hometowns?
MV: It’s so annoying. Everytime I’m in California, Joel is in New York.
JM: It’s just a joke at this point.
MV: I’ll be like ‘Hey where are you going for spring break?’
JM: Oh New York where will you be? And she’ll say California. Every time I go to New York, Maya is in California.
MV: We overlapped for one day in San Francisco.
JM: Yeah, it’s just never worked out.
MV: It’ll work out one day.
What’s your home environment like?
MV: It’s dope!
JM: Oh but there’s a lot of stuff to reveal about our housemates.
Well, it’s a good thing that this interview is just about you two.
MV: Our house environment is so beautiful and I love it. Joel lives in the basement. I never go in the basement because it is Antarctica. We have environmental studies majors who like to keep the heat down.
JM: I’m gonna be honest. I’m an environmental studies major but I crank that shit up all the time and Mark turns it down when I’m asleep so I wake up freezing.
MV: We’re doing this thing where we share our food.
JM: By that, she means that she eats my food when I’m not home and then blames it on mice that we apparently have.
MV: We do have a mouse. There are traps, but it hasn’t been caught yet.
What’s your next project together?
MV: We have a bunch of songs, like seven, that we’ve been writing. We’ll be performing a few of them at a house show for friends in the near future.
JM: We’re really looking forward to that.