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Live & Local With Maní

Find out more about Maní and listen to their new album at manisounds.org

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Maní’s newest album, icanthearwhattheyresayingbutithinkigetit, may best be described as a harmonious blend of experimental and folk music sometimes extremely tranquil in its blend of instrumentation. Yet undertones of rumination are at the album’s core driving the listener to keep hitting replay. Maní consists of Zach Farr (guitar/vocals), Steven Ledbetter (percussion), and Matt Boone (bass).  I spoke with Zach and Steven about the meaning of maní, their new album, inspiration from Twin Peaks, and their likeness to Shrek.

In your bio you say you are “a three-piece pretending to be a one-piece.”  Explain this.
Zach: The way that we play we try to really gel as one mind to convey a sound that I think comes from one source. We’re also on the same page and it’s more of our intention to connect on such a deep level that we’re thinking with one mind.

How do you think that mindset relates to the sound of your band?
Steven: On a technical level or a sonic level the music can be very rhythmic and grooving in a way that almost sounds like the instruments start to blur together.

Zach:  There’s lots of push and pull with tempos and rhythm. When we play live together it’s lots of eye contact. We’re not just necessarily keeping with one tempo or the same thing that we did the time before. It’s very much based on communication.

Explain the definition of Maní.
Zach:  Maní is in a lot of Eastern traditions and means the wish fulfilling jewel. And the mantra Om Maní Padme Hum is behold the jewel in the lotus of the heart. So it represents that pure place within, behind all the melodrama. It’s just that place of pure being. I think the name being that is just a reminder for us to try to speak and play and act in that place and not get so caught up in the melodrama.

How would you describe your new album?
Steven: Himalayan salt rock [laughter]. Yeah, that’s most adequate term we’ve found to describe the genre.

Zach: In comparison to the other music we’ve played this takes a little bit more of a serious tone. [There’s] more of a collective tone too since we wrote it as a band and previously it hadn’t been that way. There’s a little bit more of a heaviness to this music.

Steven: Definitely still a lot of playfulness.

When you say heaviness, what do you mean?
Zach: Just through the mood, not like hard rock kind of heaviness. A seriousness of looking within. The theme of the album had a lot to do with looking at the shadow and the mystery of the things that kind of freak us out and learning to make friends with it and being ok with it. But still a sense of humor is one of the tricks of seeing all that stuff as a positive thing.

Steven: It kind of follows the Shrek archetype, if you will. It’s this grotesque beast. It’s like the listener is Fiona. And Shrek or the Shrek series is the album. And as Fiona approaches Shrek it is truly a terrifying force. But it turns out that the monster has a heart of gold. And that’s what we want you to see. That beneath the grotesque exterior of the monster there’s beauty.

What do you think was your biggest influence making this album, band-wise, art-wise, etc.?
Zach: Twin Peaks Season 3 was going on during the whole process. Whether we wanted it to or not, it was a pretty big influence. There’s the whole exploration of the dual nature of reality in Twin Peaks, the balance to be struck between the light and the dark. That’s very much a theme in the album. And certain sounds. There’s the use of electrical humming and certain darker sounding drones that we heard in the show.

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