1. Can you tell us a little bit about how The Mrs came together – when you started playing music, how you met, etc.?
Great question! And like many things…it starts with a close buddy.
Jenny Mason, our bass guitarist, has been my best friend for over 15 years. I fell in love with playing the drums after taking my daughter to music lessons, and after getting deeper into music, I was inspired to start something. Jenny, naturally, was my first call, and she tried a few instruments out, but really connected with bass in the end.
When we decided to pursue this dream, we held auditions, kind of like our own little version of “The Voice.” When we met Larissa (Ness, keyboard/vocals) and Mandy (Prater, on guitar and vocals), we knew that not only did they have the talent we were looking for, but they had the passion for our message of empowerment.
Larissa and Mandy have had music in their lives since they were young, and were both actively pursuing their passion when they joined The Mrs. Larissa still teaches piano and flute to my girls, and gives vocal lessons here in Austin. Mandy was playing in a band in New Orleans when Katrina hit; that’s when she relocated to Austin. I feel so grateful to share this journey with these amazing women!
2. You live in Austin (the live music capital of the world!) – What are some of your favorite Austin venues and why?
Austin is our hometown, and every time we get to perform here we consider it an honor and a privilege. The Austin scene is amazing! We’ve gotten to travel to many places, but there is always something special about playing back home in ATX, with our people cheering us on.
Our favorite venue here in town is probably ACL Live at the Moody Theater: it’s so iconic, and there’s literally not a bad seat in the house.
3. Who is your dream producer or band to collaborate with on a project?
Well, Prince was a gift to the world. That’s a dream collaboration that won’t happen of course, but I like to think he was a dream collaboration for many of us in pop music. He continues to inspire.
We’ve been fortunate to work with some of our dream producers and collaborators already, including Paul Oakenfold, who remixed “Blink of an Eye” for us! But we are always open to working with artists we admire – creative collaboration puts us on a huge high.
4. Can you give us a little background on what The Kindness Campaign is and what they do?
Yes! TKC was born as a response to one of my personal experiences, when a friend of mine lost her child to suicide as a result of bullying. I couldn’t imagine the pain she must have felt to believe that was her only way out, and I also couldn’t believe that suicide is so shockingly prevalent among teens and preteens. Today, it’s the second leading cause of death among that age group.
So, I became determined to make a change. I had this idea that if kids could truly see themselves for how beautiful they are, and how valued they are, they wouldn’t bully each other anymore. What followed was an initiative for schools – we launched in 5, and now we’re in over 80! – with a kindness curriculum. It gives kids modern tools for cultivating cultures of kindness, which are now thriving at these campuses. I say “modern” because bullying is so different now than it was when we were kids – and children in 2018 need a safety net that’s specific to them.
5. How does your philanthropy and commitment to spreading love and kindness affect or influence your music?
Ever since we started The Mrs, we have been so unbelievably fortunate to have the opportunities we do – the artists we meet, the people we get to play for, the music we get to create. It’s been an absolute dream, but that’s why we believe in giving back. We aren’t just members of a band…we’re mothers, daughters, wives, sisters, friends, Austinites. We have seen first-hand what is possible when you harness the power of community, which is why The Mrs will always be devoted to lending support to those in need.
As an example, our song “Draw the Line” was written about a situation too many have had to endure…domestic abuse. The individuals that “Draw the Line” represents are real people that we see everyday around us. Real men, women, and children that have been impacted by violence, abuse, and assault. These are victims whose lives have been irreversibly changed.
Every cent that comes in from the sales of “Draw the Line” will always and forever be donated to SAFE Alliance, a nonprofit whose mission is ending sexual assault and exploitation, child abuse, and domestic violence through prevention, intervention, and advocacy for change.
6. What’s the story behind your new song, ‘Five Minutes’?
The message behind “Five Minutes” is that you can change someone’s life in five minutes: all you need to do is support them. Modern life is incredibly fast-paced and busy, and every single one of us gets locked into our own worlds. But, if you can break out of that for five minutes to give another person the love and attention they deserve, it could be exactly what they need to turn their own life around.
7. Can you tell us about KINDNESSPALOOZA and your upcoming event May 5 in Austin?
Yes! The Kindness Campaign puts on these wonderful events, “KINDNESSPALOOZAs,” to empower everyone – young and old – to help stop bullying and spread kindness to themselves and those around them. Our last one was at SXSW with concerts, our signature Magic Mirror activation (where you walk up to a mirror and tell it what you see…then it talks back), huge immersive art installations, and more.
On May 5th, our next KINDNESSPALOOZA hits the Hill Country Galleria in Bee Cave from 12pm to 4pm. It’s free! There will be live performances from The Mrs, SaulPaul, and Madison McWilliams, as well as a splash pad party, face painting, a coloring station and of course, our beloved Magic Mirror.
8. RADD’s mission is responsible driving to keep our roads safer. Can you please speak to the importance of having a designated driver or rideshare – and why people should never drink and drive?
I am a mother of two daughters myself, and we live in – let’s face it – one of the most congested traffic cities in America! (Austin.) In addition, it’s a college town, there’s a huge live music scene, people stay out late…drivers sometimes make irresponsible choices.
But life is unbelievably precious, and our young people are some of the most vulnerable when it comes to drinking and driving. It’s shocking, but over 40% of all 10th graders drink alcohol. On top of that, about 800 people are injured every day in a drunk driving crash. In 2013, a total of 1,149 children 14 and younger were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes, and of those, 200 (17%) occurred in alcohol-impaired driving crashes. (These stats are coming from MADD, who supports and drives research in the area of drunk driving.)
I am so grateful for the advent of rideshare companies – we’ve got a variety in Austin, from the big ones like Lyft and Uber, to smaller ones like Ride Austin – so if you don’t have a designated driver among you and don’t know what to do, download one of these apps. They are quite literally life savers.
9. Two of you are mothers – how are you planning to talk to your kids, when they get to that age, about drinking and driving and making sure they always have a safe ride home when they go out with friends?
We are pretty frank with our children about the subject of drinking and driving. We emphasize to them always that we trust their judgment and decisions, but, drinking and driving is a non-negotiable: it doesn’t matter if someone has had one drink or 10, they cannot drive.
So, we make sure our kids understand the options if they are ever in a situation with a friend who is unable to drive, which primarily means downloading the rideshare apps, and having numbers in their phone that they can call. It’s our goal always to keep an open dialogue around the topic, so they feel comfortable if and when the situation occurs. The same goes for texting and driving. This one can be more subtle but just as dangerous, so we emphasize to our children that not only is it absolutely not permitted when they are behind the wheel — it’s also not OK for their friends to do it. So we empower them to speak up when they see it happening; overall what we’re trying to do is create a larger culture of awareness and responsibility.