At a recent event at Temple SF, I had the pleasure of interviewing MANICS, an SF based edm duo signed under Temple Music Group. MANICS is composed of 2 producers by the names of Chris Sanders and Jordan DeHerrera. The duo does not wish to be genre specific which is demonstrated by their diverse EP titled Personalities. The EP has influences from all over the place with Moombahton, Disco, and Electro being the most prevalent. On top of this excellent EP, these guys threw down one hell of a live set by utilizing several midi instruments to make intriguing edits on the fly. Manics is a duo you’ll definitely want to keep your eye on. Download the free track “Split” and explore the minds of the men behind MANICS.
1. How does the writing process work when you are in a duo?
Chris: Our writing process is pretty open format. Sometimes its an idea skeleton one of us started and then we go into the studio to turn it into a full track and record outboard synths. More often than not we start with a solid drum track built using individual tracks for each sound (as opposed to using a midi kit) and then bussing those before creating the rest. Jordan writes most of the instrumentation parts while I (Chris) handle most of the EQ and mixing. Its definitely a team effort and all of our tracks would be missing a fundamental element without the input of both of us.
Jordan: Sometimes it starts out as hum or just a vocal melody. Our most recent track skeleton started out as a vocal hook and a bass line recorded with a Casio SK-1 into a phone because it was the only thing I (Jordan) had in front of me at that moment. Every time we come up with something we make sure it gets recorded on any format so that we can eventually come back to it even if it’s months later.
2. DAW of Choice/Favorite plug-in? (I know I asked this one already, just want to make sure I didn’t miss anything)
Chris: Ableton hands down. We both learned on it so anything else feels awkward. Plus we like to play with different BPM’s for songs and its not so easy to switch your BPM in other DAWs. We’re not the biggest plug-in junkies. We use Massive and Arturia V-Synths and Spark for sounds and the Waves Bundle for mixing/mastering but we like to stick to outboard synths as much as possible. Our studio includes a Korg MS-20, MS-2000 and R3; Roland JP-8000, V-synth and MC-505 drum machine; and various outboard compressors for vocals and synths alike. Tweaking sounds with the analog stuff is so much more fun. We usually record the midi part and then we’ll record in 3-6 different sounds playing the same part so we can choose later or layer them up.
Jordan: More often than not we will use plugins to write the music, then go back and record the parts with analog keyboards. More and more we are using live bass and guitar as well, most of the time plugins don’t sound as slick or sleazy as we want them to. Despite the advancements being made nothing compares to analog. Although lately the Alturia Mini Moog has been extremely useful for vocoder sounds.
3. From watching your set, you guys clearly like going above and beyond the abilities of turntables by bringing various midi instruments. Which of these instruments do you find to be most essential to your energetic improvised live sound?
Chris: We have a few ways of organizing our live sets. The more DJ oriented set up includes 2 APCs and a Axiom 49 keyboard. 1 APC has the tracks we DJ with. The other APC has various acapellas, samples and 1 hits as well as the different keyboard sounds to swap in and out. We usually have some Massive and Arturia V-synth Mini-Moog and Jupiter 8 sounds loaded up for Jordan to switch between. He also has a ton of samples to use whether its hip hop acapella’s or drums to play on the finger pad of the midi keyboard. Meanwhile I’m doing track selection and the basic mixing with some audio effects thrown in to keep it interesting.
Jordan: Our full Live Set is everything above, as well as the Korg R3 for live vocoder, Arturia Spark Drum Machine for Improve, Vocals with out board pedal effects and on occasion the Roland JP-8000. Things get complicated quick.
4. What advice would you give producers trying to break into the scene?
Chris: Forget the hype. EDM these days is so full of Hype. If you focus on your productions first, everything else will fall into line.
Jordan: Try not to limit yourself by telling yourself “i’m this kind of producer, or that kind of producer”. If you can let go of the thought of what other people are making and write parts that YOU want to hear you will create something great. People seem to be getting stumped these days by trying too hard to be the next big “whoever”. Also, TAKE ACID.
5. I read on your Soundcloud that you have a remix version of your EP, Personalities, coming out this summer. What else does MANICS have in store for listeners?
MANICS: New Single entitled “The Way You Move” is almost done and will be out once we finish the video for it. If anyone has ideas for a video feel free to hit us up. We’re open to suggestions. We also have a slew of remixes coming out from some big name labels we can’t quite announce yet. But follow us on the inter-webs and hear them soon enough. Thanks for reading!
As a special gift, MANICS wanted to give you a free download of “Split” from their EP Personalities!
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