Four people & one funky dream. Can they make it happen?
Want an antidote to Berlin’s oh-so-grey winter? Get yourself a double dose of boombastic manic funk flavour with MANONO…here in exclusive interview with indieBerlin, in the middle of their powerhouse kickstarter campaign…
Meet MANONO: Petra – the sweet Slovenian singer, Vlad – the mysterious guitarist from Barcelona, Em – the kinky Italian bassist, and Jack – the mindful Swedish drummer. The band is on the cusp of releasing a debut album called Liquid Society.
indieBerlin: You’re all coming from different cultural backgrounds. How did you get together as a band in Berlin?
Vlad: Randomness or destiny, depends on what philosophical school of thought you’re into. Petra, Em and me happened to be at the same jam session one night back in March of 2016. We didn’t get a chance to be on stage together, but as we found out later over a drink after the jam at Mein Haus am See, we all shared a passion for making music and our personalities seem to be a good match. It felt very natural to meet the same week to jam, and we haven’t stopped since.
Em: I couldn’t keep up with playing bass and drums simultaneously! When we started getting gig invites, we reached out on our social media, saying we’re looking for a funky person to join our band.
Jack: I saw a post that MANONO was looking for a drummer and instantly went to record a video that I edited on top of one of their videos.
Petra: Out of more than fifty applications we received, Jack’s was the only one that had a personal touch. He drummed over our music and even to the rhythm of our speech, which showed his sense of humor. We only invited him to audition, it was a no brainer.
indieBerlin: Why did you chose the name MANONO?
Petra: We picked the name Manono after a tropical island of Samoa.
Vlad: It was a quest of finding something both unique and universal, plus easy to pronounce in any language. We had agreed from the start to play groovy music, so when we came across ‘manono’ on the list of tropical islands it just felt right. You might wonder why we were looking at islands in the first place, and the answer is a pretty simple one. The concept of a tropical island is tied to the ideal of escaping from your mundane routines to this paradisal place – which to us, it’s what music is all about.
Em: It was only after receiving many likes on our FB page from Africa that we realized Manono is also a town in Congo.
indieBerlin: How does the songwriting process work in your band?
Petra: We recorded an album commentary explaining how each song on the debut album came together. For now, it’s available only to our backers on Kickstarter. See what I did there? 🙂
Jack: I mainly focus on coming up with nice drum-parts and making unwanted brass arrangements on top of a song that already exists. Muahahaha!
Em: Sometimes I walk into the rehearsal room with some weird ideas on which I worked during lonely cold nights.
Vlad: We don’t write songs in the same way. Once it may come from the long instrumental jamming madness during our rehearsals, then some other time it comes from my thick black notebook where I keep all the ideas. Regardless from where we start, lyrics or an instrumental idea, we always end up creating something with the flavor of us all. I personally find that very unique.
‘It’s rock and ambient vibes at the same time, with just the right amount of funk.’
indieBerlin: You’ve worked on your debut album Liquid Society for over a year now. Since we can’t listen to it just yet, could you explain the concept behind it?
Vlad: Liquid society ties to Bauman’s concept of ‘liquid modernity’. We live in a society of constant change which affects every aspect of our daily lives, including our relationships. The speed of change in this era and the paradox of choice are influencing how individuals relate to society. Relationships can be easily born and destroyed, in big cities even more so.
Petra: All songs are heavily charged with passion, but also with a variety of different emotions. Our lyrics deal with topics of disruptive technology like social media, blockchain and dating apps, as well as our personal experiences of being young and living in Berlin.
Jack: The energy, dynamic and the contrast of these songs is much more wild, better and bigger than anything that was done on MANONO’s first demo EP, which was made before I joined the band. There are some songs that are calmer and others that are more explosive.
Em: Although the album is quite diverse, the songs come together very well and are intertwined. It’s rock and ambient vibes at the same time, with just the right amount of funk.
‘Everyone that has ever done it told us that crowdfunding is hard work and will consume a lot of our time. So, we took it as a challenge.’
indieBerlin: What made you decide to do a self-release?
Jack: We wanted a professional record and we weren’t ready to sit around and wait to ‘get discovered’. We thought it would be better to let them catch us being busy instead.
Petra: As an upcoming band you can’t really get an album deal until you have a fan base already. But how do you build a fan base without an album? It’s a catch-22! Since there was no way we were willing to compromise regarding quality, we empowered ourselves with Kickstarter and haven’t regretted it, yet. 🙂 Everyone that has ever done it told us that crowdfunding is hard work and will consume a lot of our time. So, we took it as a challenge.
indieBerlin: Do you go to concerts together? Which one was the last one you went to?
Vlad: Khruangbin, it was spectacular! Not only did they prove once more that instrumental funk is alive and that music can communicate without words, but they also managed to tastefully blend different influences. As a band with mixed inputs from all of our musical backgrounds it’s inspiring to see that happen.
Em: I loved that they played super tight. Each note felt expensive.
Petra: Agreed. So genuine and sexy. I call them Kurtcobain because their name is too weird to remember. The ticket was my birthday present and we came early to be in the front row. In general, I really enjoy when we go to concerts together.
Jack: I was out of town for that one, playing a jazz set in Brussels. But I remember we went to see Jamiroquai in the front row as well.
indieBerlin: Tell us a secret about yourself.
Jack: We like bananas and cashew nuts. Please don’t tell anyone that this is the secret behind our music making.
Petra: We all have a healthy lifestyle and we’re well educated, quite the opposite of rock’n’roll.
Em: The humor of the band is driven by sex jokes.
‘We dream of touring on a bus, especially in Japan!’
indieBerlin: What was the nicest compliment you ever received?
Jack: Nicest? I don´t know. ‘You´re an asshole … but a nice asshole.’ That kind of stuck with me. I like the paradox of it.
Petra: ‘I´m captivated by your voice and the way you move on stage.’
Em: ‘Oh man, that’s how I would like to be slapped.’
Vlad: We just finished rocking out a packed-up sweaty gig at Junction Bar in Kreuzberg on Fête de la Musique, when a stranger, standing all the way in the back, approached us to say that our show was the best one he had seen at the festival.
indieBerlin: Do you dream in colour or in black and white?
Petra: Regardless of the colour, we dream of touring on a bus, especially in Japan!
indieBerlin: Do you want to give a shout out?
MANONO: Shout out goes to Cameron Laing, our producer at the The Famous Gold Watch Studios, who is currently doing a fantastic job on the songs for our upcoming album Liquid Society!
indieBerlin: Thank you, MANONO!
Support the band by pre-ordering their debut album via Kickstarter. The campaign will be active until December 12th!
www.manono.band | Insta: @manonoband
Noel Maurice is one of the founders of indieberlin. Originally from the UK via a childhood in Johannesburg, he has been resident in Berlin since 1991. Describing himself as a ‘recovering musician’, he is the author of The Berlin Diaires, a trilogy detailing the East Berlin art and squat scene of the early 90s, available on Amazon and through this site.