Ausnahmetalent Máni Orrason aus Island veröffentlichte erst letzten Sommer seineBaby Angel EP. Nun überrascht er uns nicht nur mit seiner neuen Single I Go Up, sondern auch mit der Ankündigung einer neuen EP, die dieses Jahr noch erscheinen wird. Mánis Musik spiegelt alles wider, was er mag und ihn beschäftigt. Über Pop, Punk und Indie ist alles mit dabei. Ich hab mich mit ihm im Studio seines Produzenten getroffen und über seine Musik und Pläne für 2020gesprochen. Außerdem erzählt er mir, wie es ist, mit seinen Headlines Shows einen positiven und sicheren Ort für die LGBTQ* Szene zu schaffen. Wer Máni noch nicht kennt, hat ihn spätestens am Ende dieses Interviews ins Herz geschlossen.
Anna: So starting with a question to introduce yourself to people who don’t know you yet: How would you describe your music?
Máni: I describe my music as a collage of all the things that I like. Whether it’s Blink 182, My Bloody Valentine, Charlie XCX or The Clash or whatever. My music is kinda like an electronic pop soundscape build around all kinds of references in music I love.
Anna: And how did you get into making music in the first place?
Máni: My dad had a guitar (smiles). I remember when I was like 13 starting to play music, my dad gave me this songbook with all these classic American songs in it. There were a lot of songs I didn’t know what they sounded like in. I only had the lyrics and the chords, so I would just play the chords and make up my own melody to the words. That’s kinda how I first started playing. Then I saw Green Day playing at Woodstock ’94 or something? Their whole performance made me go … Fuck. This is what I am gonna do. It was just amazing, it was a world I didn’t know. I lived on a farm when I started playing music and there was … nothing around. In school, there were like 5 kids in my year. So I listened to everything that I could find online. And that was it. Then I started a band and writing songs.
Anna: So you grew up on Iceland and then moved to Berlin?
Máni: Yeah, I first moved to Spain when I was 3. Then I moved back to Iceland, lived there until I was around 13 and then moved back to Spain again. But where I lived in Spain it wasn’t like Barcelona or Madrid where there were cool things happening. So I decided to move somewhere else, somewhere where I can properly do this. And also just to move away from home and start a new chapter. I was 20 and just couldn’t stay in Spain anymore.
Anna: Did that influence your music?
Máni: Yeah, I think forme it was a big moment of I can do whatever I want, like I’m not chained down to any kind of image that I have of myself. Like, these things that interest me, whether it’s pop music or things I flirted with on my own in secret … I think I had to move awayto give myself the space to be whoever I wanted or inspired to be.
Anna: That worked out pretty good.
Máni (laughs): Yeah it worked out pretty well.
Anna: What’s your process of writing and producing your songs?
Máni: When I’m writing by myself, I have to be in a good state of mind where I’m like present in the moment and willing to experiment. If I start writing and I’m not init, I’m not gonna do anything good. What I’ve been doing a lot lately is building good loops and going on the mic and then recording 20 minutes of just random melodies and just do that over and over again. Then I listen to it and pick out things I like and make changes. I kinda build a song out of like these random ideas and piece them together to see how they float together. I believe that all the best shit, like all the best melodies, you can’t consciously like write these things. All the things that I’m proudest of that I’ve written just come from a place of flow, where it just happens.
Anna: You identify yourself as part of the LGBTQ* community.
Máni: Yeah. I’m bisexual (chuckles).
Anna: When I first saw you live, you supported Bloodhype and apologized on stage for spreading glitter in the men’s room.
Máni (laughs): Oh yeah, I remember that.
Anna: In that context –do you feel like it’s important to break with some unwritten rules of gender?
Máni: I think for me personally, absolutely, like I really enjoy wearing glitter (laughs). To be on stage and to present yourself publicly as queer, can be vulnerable and a bit scary … But it feels really freeing to just do that, to just be myself. I think it would really suck if I didn’t, if I felt embarrassed or afraid do that. It’s just an aspect of me that I feel comfortable today with expressing. Especially last year after releasing the EP and the song Privilege of Time, to see how like these songs attracted a lot of queer people to the shows. To bring joy to people and queer people is like really amazing and joyful. Privilege of Time feels really good like it’s not a dark song about hating yourself for who you are, it’s a party and a celebration, it’s a love song. So yeah.
Anna: Your next project is called Baby Angel Loves You. Is it continuing your previous EP Baby Angel?
Máni: Yes. It’s gonna be interesting to see how things float together. There has been massive changes in production and style and everything but I kinda picture that once this next record is done and whatever comes after, it’ll be this big package, this closed solid thing.
Anna: And what’s the meaning behind the title?
Máni: Baby Angel originally was this necklace I got when I went with my ex-partner to Texas. We had this two-week trip and at this thrift shop I got this necklace that was basically like this angel with a cowboy hat. I started to collect new songs I was writing then under the title Cowboy Baby Angel, that slowly became Baby Angel. It felt like a good title for the EP just because of what it represented, like this trip and the time in our relationship. There’s a lot of beautiful things that you associate with angels. I think that all that people desire is to be validated and accepted. … I just want unconditional love so I think of Baby Angelas kind of like a symbol for this desire. I’m not religious or anything but I love this imagery, this idea of something bigger.
Anna: So your Baby Angel Tour is kicking off in May, you postponed it to focus on finishing your EP.
Máni: Yeah right. So we postponed a whole bunch of shows because of the EP production. We did two shows now and we’re doing the third one tonight in Berlin, and it was so good. Like I just got back from Dresden, it was really crazy. These are the first headline shows I played basically since we released the last EP. I’ve just been playing festivals and support shows and things and it’s like the first time that I ever played for a crowd that was shouting my lyrics. People were so into it, it was like … Because when you’re playing for an audience that doesn’t know you, it’s really such a totally different energy, like you’re not fighting for peoples attention, but they are giving you more than you are able to give them. Its such joyful thing.
Anna: Because they only came to see you.
Máni (excited): Yeah! It’s like .. fuck. It felt so amazing. I was on stage and just thinking like I wrote this song in my kitchen in Spain when in was living in a shitty ass apartment, feeling so, so sad. And now people are singing it. And it’s a cheesy artist thing to say that, but I never had that before. It was really incredible. … And also so rewarding. Cause this music shit can be so lonely. I work with Nicolai, my producer, and my managers but we’re like a tiny little circle. And it’s just the four of us trying to figure out shit, and me by myself trying to write songs, and then it’s like… fuck. People are actually there. This is so much bigger than just my daily life of replying to emails and wondering what my purpose is (laughs).
Anna: That’s really nice, I’m happy for you! So what are the next plans for this year?
Máni: Thanks (smiles). I’m just trying to play as many shows as I can and I’m just working super hard on finishing basically a new EP. I’m just trying to figure out how I can make this go as long as possible. Cause it’s like really hard but also so, so worth it, and this year I just wanna finish all this new music I’ve been working on, play for as many people as possible, makethe best photos, take the best videos, make something of value. I just wanna keep going.
Anna: Sounds like a good plan.
Máni (laughs): Yeah.
Anna: So at Untoldency, we leave a blank space in our interviews for the artist to fill out however they want. Self-promo, music recs, you name it.
Máni (after thinking really hard about it): Hey, I just released this new song, it’s called I Go Up, it’s fast, it’s crazy, it makes me want to scream really, really loud and jump up and down really, really fast, and break windows and whatever. So, stream that shit, come to my shows, buy my posters, I’ll sign them myself, it rocks. Thank you.
Fotocredits: Massimiliano Corteselli.