Menno from Hollerado, Anyway Gang, Mav Karlo and now Menno Versteeg
Mav Karlo was moniker adopted in homage to Menno’s friend that had lost his life that year. A tough record of a tough time, the first EP, recorded alone, on a four track cassette machine, in a thirty dollar a night casino hotel in Reno, Nevada over Christmas 2019, delved into the humour found in darkness and the release found in madness. And from the darkness, the LP “Strangers Like Us” which documents his journey of coming to terms with his own bipolar disorder and addiction, and finding the light in oneself. A collaboration with producer Chris Coady, and Nixon Boyd that Exclaim called “an instant classic”.
“There's nothing overwrought about this album; it's simple and safe, and this is why it's so effective. It makes no grandiose claims. The words focus on deeply idiosyncratic and lonely impressions, on microcosms gravitating around and within Versteeg, but they tap into something so deeply human that you see yourself in Versteeg's place. The tracks are like parables that, while telling Versteeg's stories, serve in turn as advice and as cautionary tales to listeners. Mourning a city lost, hoping for a safe individual and collective future, hoping for a stable mind, for bravery, the album speaks to a desire we all have: to be okay. He tells gritty stories — sometimes with a wily sense of humour, other times with grim realness — of a life deeply felt.
Versteeg has stated that writing this album served a therapeutic function for him, but listening to it is also deeply healing. You're left feeling as though you're not the only one in pain, mired in confusion, or blinded by anger. Not so much a rallying cry as a reassuring hand on our shoulders, Strangers Like Us is a relatable and beautiful debut from Mav Karlo, artist of the people. After all, its title is effectively "us."
And yet, ever the chameleon, Versteeg is ready for one last name change. And that’s to Menno Versteeg.
“I finally think I’m ready to be me”. To tell the stories I want to tell without any expectations or filters or coloured lenses shaping my view. “Just my truth and some really easy chords.”