I was lucky enough to get a chance to ask ManicanParty, the male-female pop duo, some questions to find out what makes them tick. The duo experienced a rise to fame after the release of their first promising single, ‘Rebels in the Light.’ Check out the interview below! (P=Patrick, J=Jessica)
The first thing I always like to ask is for a little history lesson: How’d you guys meet and form together? Where did ‘Manicanparty’ come from? and how was the change from Minnesota to New York?
P: We actually met back in high school. I was in an indie band and Jess was doing the singer/songwriter thing and after the band broke up and everyone went off to college we reconnected over the summer and decided to collaborate. I started producing the music and Jess would take care of the vocals. We knew that first day we had something special so we went full throttle and moved to NY soon after that. The transition to NY wasn’t too rough because we had spent a lot of time in different studios in Minneapolis and Hartford before NY.
Now that that’s out of the way: We hear a multitude of crazy instruments and sounds in each of your songs, where do you find the motivation for these sounds and what process do you use to turn them into a cohesive sound?
P: There was a moment right around the time I moved to NY where I felt trapped creatively. I felt restrained as writer because I realized I had been composing these dense songs only through a computer screen and keyboard. I wanted to take it to the next level and I was getting tired of relying on midi. So I went back to my roots and once we started working at Treehouse Recording studios Jess and I really took advantage of the live room and the few acoustic instruments that I had at the time. By the time we started the EP I had collected tons of weird toys and old synths from thrift stores and eclectic music stores. Rebels in the Light was sort of the first breakthrough song for us and the whole tribal thing happened by accident. We brought in 8 of our best friends messed around in the studio, made up some language, and ended up with some dope vocals.
That inspired the worldly drum vibe and from there on that style or sound just stayed with us. In a very organic way. It was one of those things that just happened without reason. To answer the second part of the question, I basically treat the live instruments as samples and arrange them in Pro Tools. For example, I would record 4 separate drums at a different dynamic and find a different way to mic each drum. For Rebels I put a mic inside of an upright piano to get a weird ring from the strings. That added
a super cool timbre to the bass drum. From there I layer each sound and experiment in Pro Tools.
Both ‘Monarchs’ and ‘Rebels’ were epic in scope; where do you get your inspiration for this type of power behind your songs?
J: Well a lot of my writing concepts are either based on something that has happened to me or someone close to me or an emotion I am feeling in the moment. Rebels in the Light for example was such a cathartic moment. We had just begun working on our EP and felt this freedom of exploration. We had no expectations how anything would turn out. Pat began playing the beginning synth part and the song was literally written in 10 minutes total. Once we had a core foundation and lyrical concept down, we called in a group of our friends whom we have collaborated with throughout our writing career. In that one session I found such inspiration from their reaction to the track as a whole, that I wrote these very worldly, tribal vocal parts as the background vocals. That moment established a sense of community that became a common theme in most of our tracks. The same ensued for Monarch where I happened to really connect with a kalimba melody I came up with. Pat added in complex
rhythms and worldly drum parts. We then did the same process with the background vocals and out came a song talking about a personal experience of mine. Both songs have a very universal message that I think a lot of people can connect with and relate to.
I’ve heard that ‘Monarchs’ was partially inspired by the Hunger Games series, I myself haven’t finished the series, so without spoiling anything can you explain what drove you to use it as inspiration and what themes from the series you wanted to express in your song?
J: Actually Rebels in the Light was inspired by the Hunger Games. I read the series right around the time we started working on the EP and Rebels was born. It was such an organic song. Some common themes in it that I pulled from what I read were obviously rebellion, sense of community and an overall struggle for change.
How’s the creative process work between you two? How does a song develop, does Pat create a beat first or does Jess start with the lyrics, and how do you two bounce ideas off one another to ultimately create the elaborate songs you’ve released?
P: The process is different every time. I guess we’re pretty bi-polar when it comes to writing/recording. The best way to put it is trial and error. We spend an entire day in the live room playing with instruments, toys, trash, pieces of metal, etc. and when something strikes us we flesh it out until Jess can write something and then we build in Pro Tools from there. Its pretty fucking cool if you think about it. Considering we are the engineers, producers, and writers its free game. I feel like a little kid on a playground. There are no rules telling us how to do it and we just keep going until we both can say, “Okay. That’s the absolute best we can do”. I guess that’s why the songs end up so dense. Ha. You guys first started performing together this June, if I’m correct.
How was transitioning from the studio to the live performances for you, especially with such an array of sounds in each song? How was the whole experience of touring in general?
J: You know performing live is a whole other animal entirely. It took some time for us to find a nice balance between what you hear on the recording and that exciting, fresh element that can take place during a live performance.
P: The transition was actually pretty challenging. We’d been writing songs for so long without ever performing any of them and once we reached that first rehearsal with the band we were like “Fuck. How the hell are we going to cover all these parts with 5 people?” We had to be creative but we made it work. That’s why I think the idea of having 2 drummers is so effective when playing our songs.
Lastly, what do you think you guy would be doing, career wise, if you two hadn’t gone into the musical field? It’s always interesting to see what other interests or hidden skills some of my favorite artists have been hiding all
J: I think I would have owned a restaurant. While I was in college, I was working on developing a business plan to start one but once Pat and I came across a writing opportunity that immediately went on the back burner as music has always been my first priority. I feel further down the line I will still pursue starting a restaurant in addition to our music career.
P: I have no clue. I’m in deep shit if this music thing doesn’t work out. Ha.
Thanks guys, I really appreciate it! I can’t wait for more releases by you guys, and I hope I can catch you live in Boston sometime. Enjoy the success!