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Manticore Kiss Are Intertwined in Their Own Dark Romance

Written by Johnny Papan


Stories of finding love, embracing relationships and heartbreak have seen time and time again in all facets of the arts industry. Whether realistic or thematic, it’s hard to find an artist that doesn’t, in some way, pour their emotions into their craft. It’s a way to lighten the weight of your emotions and connect with your audience.

Vancouver-based synth-goth duo Manticore Kiss blur the lines of reality and fiction with their debut EP Intertwined. Romantic partners Kat Bastow (keyboards/vocals) and Ari Mansell (cello/vocals) take their personal love story and wrap it in a gothic, dark fairytale. Spearheaded by the lead singles “Intertwined” and "Aboulia", the record was produced by ACTORS frontman Jason Corbett at his personal recording studio, Jacknife Sound.

“‘Intertwined’ is in a way, our story, but a romanticized version of us,” says Bastow. “The song 'Intertwined' is about two people who love each other intensely; despite all their earthly suffering, they remain companions, dedicated to one another, facing this cruel world until they can face it no more. After spending their lives together, surviving every hardship, now facing old age and illness, they drink the poison together and slip into eternity where they will suffer no more.”

“The vibe of this album definitely tells a dark love story,” adds cello/vocalist Ari Mansell. “We have individual songs depicting personal stories of pain, then it moves to the story of the 'birth' of this dark romance.”

What’s most interesting about this record is how it’s told from both perspectives in the relationship. So often we hear stories of couples who cannot seem to understand where the other is coming from. With Intertwined, Bastow and Mansell are able to wrap their frames of mind in picturesque artistic outpourings that create a greater understanding of each other. An unconditional openness that keeps their relationship strong.

“Each song has a theme, reflecting either me or Ari’s perspectives and experiences, with an underlying theme of love and support, no matter how miserable life is,” Bastow explains.

“It’s been amazing working with someone who not only understands the same personal struggles but also has the same musical chemistry and style in writing,” Mansell adds.

This shared creative connection carries beyond their songwriting. The name Manticore Kiss represents both Bastow and Mansell. The Manticore is a mythical creature reminiscent of a lion with bat wings and a scorpion’s tail. While the name “Ari” means “lion” in Hebrew, Kat’s influence comes from her nickname, “Little Bat”.

“The scorpion tail represents the “kiss” of our music, it is sweet but it can come with a sting!” They laugh.

Though the overall theme is about their relationship, the duo also draws from other aspects of their personal lives. Mental struggles, the loss of loved ones and other events from their lives are discussed on the record. Splitting vocal duties, songwriting and the overall creative output of this project, Manticore Kiss serves as both personal journies and a shared experience for Bastow and Mansell.

“Each song is a piece of the puzzle,” Mansell concludes. “We have individual songs depicting personal stories of pain, then it moves to the story of the ‘birth’ of this dark romance. They are messages that relate to people’s real-time struggles, but also offer a story of hope.”

Find Manticore Kiss on Bandcamp

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