How did you think things would play out when you entered SITE?
My sweet Nana has always pushed me to pursue singing and had been asking me to enter, and I thought I’d keep her happy by sending in an audition video. To be honest, I wasn’t sure if I would be talented enough to even make it onto the show, so the idea of winning was the last thing on my mind ... I just didn’t want to make a fool of myself!
What happened after you won?
It was a real whirlwind year following the show. We spent some time in Tonga and returned to radio and magazine interviews along with TV appearances. We formed a band and I got to experience my first professional gigs, recorded my album (Mandy Pickering) and filmed a music video. Highlights were Sarah McLachlan requesting a copy of my performance of her song, my album launch and hearing my songs on the radio. 2010 was also a roller coaster year in many ways with my son being diagnosed with an aggressive tumour and undergoing surgery and the first big quake where we lost our Avonside home. Having music through this time was therapeutic and helped us stay really positive.
What piece of advice would you give your pre-SITE self?
Just enjoy the journey! I was so terrified of performing in front of the camera and the live audience ... I wish I had just enjoyed every moment.
How do you feel about ‘Angel’ now?
‘Angel’ is the song people request the most. I still love the song and the story behind it. Sarah McLachlan wrote it after the death of a fellow musician; she was touched by his story and felt so much empathy for him and that feeling of being lost, lonely and searching for some kind of release. Of all the songs I sing, people seem to really connect with ‘Angel’ and are moved by it.
Where’s your favourite place to perform in Christchurch?
A chilled out Sunday afternoon gig at O.G.B Christchurch. Jase accompanies me on guitar and my son, Isaac, plays acoustic drum and it’s such a relaxed, fun gig.
What’s on your rider?
A glass or two of Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc.
What’s it like performing with your family?
I love it! It’s so nice having Jase by my side when we head to different cities for corporate gigs ... kinda like a paid date night! Isaac joining us for some of our low key gigs has been fun. Proud mum moment!
What prompted your country move?
Close friends in Rangiora took us in after the earthquakes and we fell in love with North Canterbury. Jase had always wanted to build a barn-style home, and the opportunity arose when a beautiful 5-acre section became available in Ashley Forest. We love the views out to Christchurch, to the Port Hills and the ocean. There is something very calming about living in the country.
Tell us about your fave haunts …
Favourite places to be are O.G.B, partly for its cool vibe, incredible food and live music. Twenty Seven Steps is also amazing, the service is impeccable, delicious food and great atmosphere. When it comes to a favourite dish, I can’t go past King of Snake’s Penang curry of beef cheeks with green beans and fish crackling. I’ve tried to re-create it but haven’t quite nailed it yet!
What’s your favourite Sunday indulgence?
Sunday morning pancakes for breakfast. Jase makes them for me with fresh berries and a dollop of mascarpone.
What’s on your Chch bucket list?
Bamboozle. I love the location by the river in the heart of Christchurch and the idea of the open kitchen really appeals to me. I’m also looking forward to dining at Roots Restaurant in Lyttelton. I’ve heard amazing things from friends who have dined there and I like that many of their ingredients are sourced from local farms and their own garden, and their philosophy of every single ingredient having a story to tell.
Where can we catch you this month?
O.G.B on October 29.
Image: Dolce Wedding Photography