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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

New York Producer and DJ Manik on His Unlikely Influences and the Term "Underground DJ"

Posted By on Wed, Nov 12, 2014 at 10:45 AM

click to enlarge Manik performs at Monarch tomorrow, Nov. 13
  • Manik performs at Monarch tomorrow, Nov. 13

Never one to define himself by only one genre, producer, songwriter, and DJ Chris Manik, aka Manik, draws on a wide-ranging palate that stretches from progressive electro to soulful deep house. With an attitude of “it’s all good” to express his genre-spanning love of dance music, Manik’s sound references a multitude of classic and contemporary sounds, whether it be the pool-party vibes of summer or the underground afterhours of New York.

This past summer, he debuted his indie pop side project Shadow Lanes, whose debut single “Sea and Back” featured UK vocalists Eli & Fur. However, this fall he goes back to his house roots with Far and Away, an EP and tour that will showcase his latest release on the Anjunadeep label. Ahead of his headlining spot at Monarch this Thursday, Nov. 13, we chatted with Manik about underground DJs, his favorite musical toy, and his upcoming tour.

When did you decide that house music would be your main musical focus?
I think I became naturally interested into the 4/4 side of electronic music around college and wanted to take a chance. Once I had my first Ovum signed in 2009/2010 I decided to continue this route. I love house and techno, but some people don’t know, I actually love to make electronica and trip hop/left-field stuff even more.

Growing up in the NY where there's a huge house scene, which local artist has had the biggest influence on your sound?
I would actually say a non-house artist and also more so on the overall outlook of the career — as opposed to my particular house music sound. I think DJ Premier and just what he was able to do as a music producer really influenced me to become- and still strive to become- a true music producer. But also legends like Francois K and David Mancuso have always influenced me in their amazing music selection and professional ways.

Since you started making music in 2009, how do you think the term "underground DJ" has evolved?
It has evolved because there really isn't an underground. It is all relative of course and one can make an argument and compare specific artist. But at the end of the day, your bigger underground acts from 2011 are now flying around in private jets sometimes. The truth is, the underground is what you make it and every artist has their own goals in this short life. It's all good to me though.

Which piece of production equipment is your favorite to work with?
I love my Moog Voyager, but anything by Dave Smith really. I've also been recently getting into Elektron and it’s amazing. Their products are fantastic. Want to get more into the Elektron stuff for sure.

Having played over 40 countries, is there somewhere you haven't played but want to?
I would love to finally get over to New Orleans. Never been there. As for outside of the U.S., I would say South Africa. That would be really cool as well.

What's the best part of making music for a label like Anjunadeep?
I like to be able to make what I want, all while still being melodic. And Anjunadeep respects that. They are a great group of guys that are at the forefront of the deep house sound.

Above and Beyond recently featured your upcoming single “Far Away” in their weekly radio show Group Therapy. How does it feel to have those guys support your tracks?
I respect what they've done and it’s an honor to have them play my stuff. Just like Josh Wink, Matthew Dear, Shadow Child, all of these guys I look up to that have played my music is a great feeling for sure. Makes you realize you are sort of doing something right!
What are you looking forward to showcasing with your Far and Away tour?
Just some of my new music and also getting back into the U.S. markets that I love so much. Seattle, SF and Chicago are some of my favorite cities in the world so it will be nice to get back there.

In your down time, which artists do you enjoy listening to?
Toro Y Moi, Aphex Twin, Four Tet, Tycho, Com Truise, James Blake, Chet Faker, old school hip-hop, and weirder electronic music.

Lastly, from social media it seems like you enjoy great food. What would your perfect sandwich consist of?
Chicken cutlet, fried eggplant, fresh mozzarella, and honey mustard on a gigantic roll. Lioni’s in BK has this exact sandwich. Big up BK!

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Christina Li

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