MNDR leaves street life behind for synth-pop

Courtesy PhotoAmanda Warner

Amanda Warner would love to recount optimistic stories of her post-college years living in the Bay Area from 2003 to 2009, before she moved to New York and — with producer-partner Peter Wade — re-created herself as the brainy synth-popper MNDR.

But she doesn’t have any.

Retaining a publishing deal after her band Triangle failed, Warner became a hot Big Apple songwriter. An early effort there was “Bang Bang Bang,” a collaboration with Mark Ronson and the first hit single on the album “Record Collection.”

By last year, she had enough bubbly originals to release her own full-length CD, “Feed Me Diamonds,” which is lyrically inspired by esoteric subjects such as Patty Hearst (“#1 in Heaven”), Henry Ford (“Faster Horses”) and the artist Marina Abramovic, whose father was reportedly murdered by ingesting crushed jewels.

In The City this week, she opens for Tokimonsta, with whom she appears on a new iTunes single, “Go With it.”

For the Fargo, N.D.-bred keyboardist — who graduated with a minor in chemistry and a major in music (specifically stringed bass) — living in Oakland wasn’t a transformative experience.

Hoping to become part of the burgeoning local Deerhoof-Erase Errata scene at the time, she wound up crashing in East Bay warehouse communities such as Otherworld, Liminal and the all-punk Grandma’s House.

“Places that I would say were one step above a squat,” she says, none too wistfully. “And I was living on nothing, doing odd jobs like baby-sitting, moving, teaching music lessons — I did so many hustles I can’t remember them all.”

Food, not music, was the prime directive.

“I would eat like one burrito a day,” says Warner, who cleans up well as the gorgeous fashion plate MNDR. “I remember for a while only being able to afford Trader Joe’s sushi and one apple, and I was just exhausted by the end of each day, I was so hungry. And this is really bad, but I worked at a deli, and I would steal a ton of food — I had this system, and I would make sure that I was the one who took out the garbage. I mean, I couldn’t eat so I thought, ‘Whatever.’”

In turn, warehouse bandits stole from Warner. “There were always meth heads, drug addicts or prostitutes trying to get in,” she says. “I got punched in the face with my phone once — that was weird. But I opened my door one morning, and there was a pack of wild dogs running down the street. A pack of them! Living on my street! Now when I think about how rough it was, I’m like, ‘That place was crazy!’”


MNDR: Opening for Tokimonsta

  • Where: DNA Lounge, 375 11th St., S.F.
  • When: 9 p.m. Wednesday
  • Tickets: $17.50 to $20            
  • Contact: (415) 626-1409,

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