Suiciderock: Let`s start the interview by introducing yourself. Besides being a singer and songwriter you are also modelling…
Manna: Yeah, I actually used to model when I was younger but I was always studying music. Music has always been my main thing. I released my first album “Sister” in 2007, my second album “Songs of Hope and Desire” came out 2009 and now I`m currently working on my third record. I have been related to music for a long period. As I already mentioned I have been studying it, I was singing in choirs, I also did some background vocals. So as you can see I have always been involved when it comes to music.
Suiciderock: So modelling has never been your main goal than?
Manna: No, no never but I had to finance my studies and the modelling was very good to do so. The model job was something that came out when I was dong something for the theatre. People were casting for different commercials and so on. So you could say that this things go a bit hand in hand sometimes. But of course music is my passion and you can`t compare this two jobs to each other at all.
Suiciderock: You mentioned your second album “Songs of Hope and Desire” already. It was released here in Finland. I read somewhere that you are planning to release it also internationally. Is that true?
Manna: Yes, my first plan was to release it internationally and record six new tracks therefore. But things have changed as I was more productive than I assumed and I ended up with so many songs that I had to do a new album. So let`s see what happens to that.
Suiciderock: That sounds interesting, can you reveal a little bit of your new record?
Manna: Well, I`m just in the process as we speak now. This is hard to say but I think it`s gonna be a bit different comparing to the foregoing ones. I like to challenge myself and I guess I change on each album. I don`t want to be stuck in a certain way of making music so I´m trying to do lots of new things and to go forward. When it comes to the sound I think that it will be perhaps a bit bigger and also more experimental this time. The melodies are very important to me. The main thing is that you can sing along to the songs.
Suiciderock: You do everything by yourself when it
comes to the songwriting and composing right?
Manna: Yeah that`s correct. I`m working with different musicians and producers but mainly I do everything on my own.
Suiciderock: Let`s talk about what`s out at the
moment. If you compare your first album “Sisters” to your second one “Songs of
Hope and Desire” what would you say is different?
Manna: Let`s say the first one was more ballet orientated in a way. It was very mellow and easy. I had lots of country and folk influences when I wrote “Sisters”. It is a typical singer songwriter album, very stripped down and pretty I would say. Since it is my very first album it is a very dear album for me. The second one was edgier and more up-tempo. I wanted to have a rougher production. I wanted to make it sound a bit like the bands I had been listening to for many years. I didn`t want the album to sound too much produced, I wanted the sound to be more classic. I wanted to create a timeless album. I wanted to bring back that 70`s feeling cause you can hear more life in this kind of albums and I`m very happy with the result. It turned out to be good.
Suiciderock: You just said that you mixed folk and country. You mix all different kind of musical elements so can you define your style? Is there a certain expression like Rock or Pop or whatever?
Manna: My style itself is always changing and evolving so I really can`t define it production wise. If I do the same thing over and over again it becomes very boring quite soon. My whole enthusiasm would completely die if I would start to repeat myself on every album and in every song. I don`t want to over – do the same stuff on and on. I can`t put it into a genre. The music itself has always be true to me, I want to make honest music but I also want to keep the right to change it for myself.
Suiciderock: In your biography you used a very nice definition for your style. You described it as “heartfelt” music…
Manna: Yeah that`s what it is. It`s the same when I say that he music has to be honest to me. This is complicated to explain. It really has to be true to me, it tells a story that I was going through or something that I really felt in a certain situation of my life. So it is a lot about feelings. We were earlier talking about that overproduced music, you can´t feel that kind of music. It is missing the real emotion when you sing or play it. To bring the real emotion to my records and my songs, that`s something I aim for.
Suiciderock: What inspired you personally for your
Manna: I got inspired by basically everything that`s around me. Of course my own life is a big inspiration for me, but also all kind of different emotion all around, my friends or even random people on the street can be very inspiring. It`s not like a diary for me. It`s more about how I see this world out there. So it`s personal in that way.
Suiciderock: What are your own musical heroes?
Manna: I have so many of them. I`m not listening to music these days. When you are making your own music you sort of want to have a bit of silence when you are done with it. You don`t want to over expose yourself to music. It could start to sound like a noise after a while. I tend to go back to my old favourites as Velvet Underground, Bob Dylan. My favourite bands might be old and classic but I like to try new things when it comes to my songs.
Suiciderock: Last year was quite big for you. You had
some exciting performances. For example you opened up for Muse here in Helsinki
and you where support act for Melissa Auf der Maur. How did that come together?
Manna: As for the Muse support, it actually came from them. I got an invitation. Their tourmanager was looking for supportacts for the European tour and he contacted my agent and we thought it would be great to do that. It was very nice, it was one of the hottest days in the summer and we were all almost fainting on stage.
Suiciderock: You also perform in smaller clubs. How does it feel if you compare this big events against the smaller once?
Manna: It is completely different. When you for example perform infront of an audience which is not yours they hear your songs for the first time and they are actually waiting for their favourite band to enter the stage. But everything went very well. The Muse fans treated me pretty good. Than on the other hand it is great if you have your own audience and you can perform for them. It`s more intimate But I like both, I don`t know what I would prefer.
Suicderock: Manna is not your real name. There is a sweet story behind that name. Do you want to tell that story?
Manna: Ok, when I was very small and I was still living in Paris with my parents I couldn`t pronounce my real name which is “Mariam”. I was just trying to say it out loud and all that came out was “manna, manna manna” so it stayed with me. Later on even teachers at school started to call me Manna. Many people think it is my real name.
Suiciderock: You even choose it as your artist name…
Manna. Yeah, that was funny story. I was working in two different countries with two different producers. when I produced my first album. I worked in Sweden and Finland. I didn`t know should I name it as a project or as a band. I was just trying to find myself when it comes to that and than somebody just said why don`t you use your own name. It`s your story and your record and I thought, why shouldn`t I go with that. You don`t know what Manna is when you read it the first time. It could be anything. Afterwards I found out that there are about four bands in the world with the same name. That was quite funny.
Suiciderock: You have a daughter. How do you combine
your musical life with being a mum?
Manna: Actually people might assume that it is more difficult than it actually is. You know as a musician you are home for a long period. You are not permanently on tour or away from home. I`m for example working at home, I make my music in my homestudio. I can choose and I prefer taking the small time periods when it comes to the touring. Touring is the best part of this but it is also very exhausting. It`s a lot of fun but you have to be tough and you have to take care of yourself. The speed is fast, you perform at midnight, you go to bed at 2am and at 8am the bus to the next place leaves.
Suiciderock: While talking about touring, you`ve
played some shows in the UK as well. Will you go on tour only in Finland or can
we also see you on European stages in the future?
Manna: I have to wait for the album. First you release the album and than you want to present the new material to the people out there. It is always like that that I do Finland first because it is usually released first here. So I will hopefully release the first single in spring, maybe in May and the album in October. Before that I will do some summer festivals here in Finland and than I will start touring in October when the record is out.
Suiciderock: Your future plans?
Manna: At the moment I`m just thinking about the album itself. I´m a bit behind my schedule. It is not so easy to pick out ten songs of all the songs you have written. I have to admit that I`m in a bit of a rush when it comes to the album but I just through two songs away that didn`t fit into my idea of the album so I get along. I`m planning to start the recordings by the end of march so we`ll have to see where I will do that. But basically it is all about the album at the moment.