MANIK Talks Influences, Breakthrough Years, and Debut Albums
Having released his debut EP to immediate acclaim on Josh Wink's Ovum label in January 2010, NYC wunderkind Chris Manik made the leap from virtual unknown to internationally celebrated "It" producer in little more than a year.
MANIK has since joined the artist rosters of chic labels like Poker Flat, Culprit, and Hot Creations, while his fledgling discography gets charted across the board -- among his many DJ fans are international heavyweights like Steve Bug, Jimpster, Anja Schneider, and Jamie Jones.
MANIK will be making his Ultra week debut in Miami with performances with the Air London showcase at the Electric Pickle on March 22 and the 15th Annual Ovum Party at the Shelborne on March 22.
We caught up with the talented Mr. Manik to talk about his early influences, his breakthrough year and upcoming debut LP on Ovum Recordings.
Crossfade: What music did you listen to growing up in NYC and how did you first get drawn to EDM?
MANIK: Basically a lot of everything. Synth pop to hip hop. Dilated Peoples, Biggie and Mobb Deep were some of my favorites. Pharcyde as well. I also listened to PSB, Depeche Mode, Modern Talking, etc. When I grew up as a young teen in the late '90s, there was some really good R&B floating about as well, so I listened to that too. Eventually, I got into the more electronic end of it with Prodigy and also guys like Jamie Jones, Trentemøller, and Mathew Jonson.
How do you normally approach a track from inspiration to completion?
I just sit down and be myself -- I do me. It's as simple as that. I don't really have a formula. I like a lot of various stuff and it's evident in my work. There is usually a lot of material brewing in my studio at once, but that is just a result of being passionate and having a drive. I play keyboard quite well so that helps a lot too. I am almost always inspired because I am having fun making music.
You kick-started 2010 with a January debut release on the prestigious Ovum label -- as auspicious a career beginning as it gets in EDM. How did you hook up with Ovum in the first place?
I ended up giving them some of my music and they were totally into it. Park To the Slope is what started it for me. From that point on our work relationship grew and I put out a second EP with them called Keep That Fresh, at the end of 2010. The label is really open-minded and that is important to me. They are great people, which is hard to find in this biz.
It seems like so many emerging producers are introduced because they're part of a specific regional scene, label or grouping of artists who know each other personally -- hype by association, as it were. But in your case it seems like you broke through on your own and are flying solo -- the author of your own success. What would you say to that?
That is true. I like it this way though. I started out with practically nothing and have broken through on my own and gained a lot of respect because I make real music and songs, not just tracks. I mean, I got some crews here and there that I am proud to be a part of, like Culprit, Ovum, and my agency Air London of course. But yeah, I never had anyone put me on based off association. I just stay on my grind and focus getting better each day.
The rest of 2010 was tremendous for you, with follow-up releases on hot labels like Poker Flat and Culprit and several high-profile bookings. What were some of your personal highlights and achievements?
Yes, it was a great end to a great year. Having that many successful releases was probably my biggest highlight. Also working with Poker Flat, which I have admired for years, was a highlight. Specific songs like "She's Slow Motion" and "Good 4 Me" as well as "Pure Liquid" and "McLovin You" were all special to me because they slammed charts and helped put me on the map. Also the top-caliber DJs' support was huge. You know when a diverse group of artists like Lee Foss and Steve Bug, or Phonique and Matthew Dear play and or chart my music, it means I have done my job. Another achievement was finally finishing my debut album which will be released on Ovum end of May.
So far, what are your impressions of being an internationally-recognized artist? What are the pros and cons?
Good question. I haven't really thought of myself like that, but positive results come because you put in the time and effort. I think some pros are that I have my own fans now. People are coming out to specifically see me play which is great. It's also a pro when people come up to me in cities all over the world saying my music inspires them or motivates them. There really aren't cons in this, but I get a ton of amateur music sent to me from labels and people that want my DJ support, but I am not sure they themselves have actually listened to what they are sending me. That would be the only con I can think of. Oh, it's also a con when the person sitting next to you on the airplane has massive B.O. or is speaking abnormally loud on a phone before take off. It's like, dude, get a clue!
What do you have in store for the rest of the year?
My debut album entitled Armies Of The Night is out May 23rd on Ovum. Really looking forward to that. My album is strongly influenced by my home of Queens, NY and my favorite film, The Warriors. I built my LP from The Warriors story and my overall experiences in NYC -- hence the title of my album. I also have my debut music video coming out sometime in early April. Keep an eye and ear out for that. It is for one of the album tracks. Then later in the year, I have a really dope release coming out on Hot Creations. I am very excited about working with Lee [Foss] and Jamie [Jones]. Lee has been one of my biggest supporters over the last few months. I also have my second Culprit 12'' single coming later in the year. It's my follow up to the McLovin You EP from 2010, which was one of my most successful EPs last year. Tour-wise I am going on my debut European tour in April and May, and I will be playing in about nine different cities all over Europe. Playing at Rex Club in Paris, London, Barcelona and so many more. So overall, very exciting times right now! I am also debuting a brand new project later this year which I am really looking forward to as well. Stay tuned!
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