Meet Mousey, the singer-songwriter who defies the restriction of genre

The musical journey of Sarena Close in the lead up to the birth of her now critically acclaimed project Mousey, has been one of consistent rebellion. Fresh off her performance at Ones to Watch, Ash Wallace sat down with the indie darling to dive into her song writing roots.

Coming from a musical family, Sarena had a talent and an ear that was quickly recognised. Straight away she was put into piano lessons to make the most of her potential- but there was one hiccup. Sarena hated being told what to do and rejected the idea as soon as it was presented to her. “A common thread through my life is that I instantly stop anything as soon as someone tells me to do it”. So began a tug of war between her interest in music, and not wanting to do as her parents said. Instead of giving in- she secretly played around on a crappy keyboard with the volume turned all the way down, to explore the instrument without attention. 



This attitude has run through Sarena’s life as an artist and no doubt led to the complex sound of Mousey. She enrolled in Music School in Christchurch to commit to her craft but felt frustrations at being unable to work on her own time and follow her own compass. After leaving University she had a handful of songs that she really loved, but didn’t have an outlet to release them in. “I knew I wanted to make an album with all these songs I had written over 5 years. It was always called Lemon Law from the start, but the album that came out was my 4th attempt at Lemon Law!” After finding the right fit of engineer in Ryan Fisherman, the final version of Lemon Law was completed – and Mousey was born.

 

The sound of Mousey is hard to define. Sarena has curated an ever dynamic, ever-changing sound that twists and turns to keep the listener on their toes. “I wanted an anything can happen type feeling, where it’s completely unsurprising for me to change my mind. If every album is different than I can keep my playground big and explore”. This boundaryless approach to song writing is reminiscent of a key influence of Mousey’s, QUEEN. The core of the songs are built around killer piano parts, and strong melodies that create colour and tension against the chords. “That influence will never escape me. The strong, intentional, dramatic quality of those songs.”



Since Lemon Law, Mousey has gone on to release a second album titled ‘My Friends’, a 9-track journey through Sarena’s most delicate, and most defiant song writing. A stand out track for lyric lovers is the vulnerable and fragile ‘Rachel’. “I am really proud of ‘Rachel’, it came out really naturally and was completely following my intuition. I don’t usually strive to be smart, I just let it be- but this one was unintentionally really clever”.

Following in the footsteps of many other great indie acts from New Zealand’s South Island Mousey has made a quick impact. Particularly impressive is her nomination for the IMNZ Independent Debut Award for “Lemon Law’, an accolade that has marked the beginning of some of Aotearoa’s greatest music careers.


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