The Temper Trap’s Dougy Mandagi on making indie smash hits and moving to Berlin
It’s been little over a decade since Dougy Mandagi first took to the stage to front Aussie alt-rockers The Temper Trap. 12 years on and the Indonesia-born crooner has traversed the globe countless times over with his bandmates, not to forget dropping one of the most emblematic indie anthems of the noughties with ‘Sweet Disposition’. We managed to bag an exclusive chat with Dougy to talk about growing up, moving to Berlin and what the future holds.
You guys came over to Europe pretty early on in your career, how come? Right, it was 2009. If you wanted to make a splash internationally, you had to leave. Australia is isolated. Although there’s a lot of good content there, back then nobody wanted to listen to it. Besides, we couldn’t really get any gigs back in Australia to be honest. Electro was really big at the time and guitar-led bands weren’t really getting much love. We were ready to leave and had spoken about it and decided on London. I took two jobs just so I could get some extra money. Around about the same time we got a manager and some interest from the UK. A label was also willing to fork out the cash to move us over. It worked out perfectly.
What was it like being in London in the tail end of indie’s golden age? To be honest we weren’t really in London that much, it was more of a base because we were touring a lot. Being in a new band means you don’t have the luxury of saying, “Nah, I don’t want to do that.” You’ve got to do everything. So we literally did everything. We toured Conditions for a little over two years. We played a lot of shows. So London was just a hub, I didn’t really get to know it all that well until the second record.
Did you guys expect Conditions to do as well as it did? No. I’m an ambitious person, so this was never a bedroom project for me. But I didn’t know it would take off the way it did. When we wrote ‘Sweet Disposition’, I felt good about it. We looked at each other in a ‘that’s awesome’ kind of way. It came along really easily. A lot of the other songs were really hard to put together and took ages to write, kind of like trying to work out a puzzle.