As she releases an album inspired by Girl, Interrupted, the US indie icon reveals how a childhood kidnapping and her repressive southern childhood left her with PTSD

In Los Angeles, it’s early and overcast. “It has that six-in-the-morning feel,” says Aimee Mann, eternally droll, from a home office wallpapered in fruity foliage. “So it’s been hard to get going.” Drab weather demands good knitwear, and Mann has paired thick-rimmed round glasses the size of ashtrays with a brown woollen sweater vest. She admits, with a whaddaya-gonna-do shrug, that she bought the Alexa Chung garm off Instagram. “I’ve actually bought several things from Instagram ads,” she says sheepishly. “How do they know?”

When it comes to her career, the 61-year-old songwriter has never been one for the hard sell. In 1985, Mann’s band ’Til Tuesday had a US Top 10 hit with their debut single, Voices Carry, a sublime new-wave anthem about the liability of expressing emotion. With her shocked peroxide do, rat-tail plait and unyielding stare, Mann resisted sexual and commercial commodification. Misunderstood by their label, the group ended, then Mann spent the 90s with her first three solo albums of brilliantly spiky, weary, erudite guitar pop mired in major-label politics, from collapses and buyouts to brazen apathy at what to do with a late thirtysomething classicist more akin to Randy Newman than Britney Spears.

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