Every Monday we will be bringing you interviews with unsigned UK or Ireland artists for Independent Music Monday. Recently we caught up with Aran from unsigned duo Manyana to find out more...
Who is in the duo, how did you meet, where are you from and how did you come up with the name?
Aran: The duo consists of David O'Rourke and, myself, Aran Sheehy. We've known each other for a large portion of our lives, and have been making music together for ten years, barring a few life induced hiatuses. We're both originally from suburban Dublin.
David: I was reading Orwell's 'Homage to Catalonia' and in it, Orwell talks about his time spent with POUM militia and how they could not really get anything organised or done, that the excuse was always ‘mañana’ meaning tomorrow, tomorrow we will get it done. I thought that it was a nice follow on from our previous name ‘The Excuses’ but also the ease and I suppose laziness of the phrase resonated with me. Especially in music, it is hard to get things done and I am pretty lazy.
Who were your musical influences when you were growing up and who are your influences now?
David: Growing up my dad was probably my first and biggest musical influence. He played Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Rory Gallagher and much more. Then I have my friends to thank for much of the great music I listen to, Aran told me about Radiohead, I mean Radiohead were no big secret but he showed me how great they actually are. The artists I respect most at the moment are Nicolas Jaar, Timber Timbre and Jon Hopkins.
Aran: Actually it was my dad who told me about Radiohead so I’d have to give him a lot of credit too! I know I’m half a century late to the party but I’ve been listening to a lot of Pink Floyd recently, they were pioneers of the twenty minute song after all.
How would you describe your sound?
Aran: Well in terms of this release, I would definitely describe it as otherworldly. However we never restrict ourselves with genres. When we start working on something, it is usually the song that decides how it’s going to sound rather than us.
What is your latest single called and what was the influence behind it?
Aran: Our latest release is called 'There's Glasses Need Collecting the Wide World Over.' It is a two part ethereal epic which follows the life of an expat trapped in a dystopian wasteland, sustaining himself through collecting discarded glasses. I was inspired by seeing a friend of mine emigrate to try and escape some issues he was having, and while the title may seem convoluted it is actually a direct quote from him. I guess writing this song was an attempt to understand why someone would want to leave their family and friends behind to go somewhere with absolutely no prospects.
After putting a few rough ideas into the computer, Dave came along and beefed the whole thing up with synths, cellos, trumpets and vocals, and that was part ‘I’ finished. Part ‘II’ is completely surreal, and represents the endlessness of time in the world where this particular person is trapped collecting glasses indefinitely.
David: Looking back on it now, I think a huge influence in the soundscape of the song was the noise of Dublin city. The seagulls in Dublin are a constant feature of the Dublin skyline and the sound of the city. Especially at 3 or 4 in the morning when people on their night out are getting takeaway, and scattering chips on the street, it’s a feeding frenzy for them. I kind of became obsessed with the idea of their takeover, because when you go to other seaside cities, you notice how small the seagulls are in comparison. Dublin ones are huge! I started to try out the gull sound in some tracks, recorded some from my apartment window, and it really worked, they have a beautiful sound. I think their sound works in our imaginary dystopian wasteland as well. I can imagine Dublin’s seagulls inheriting the earth after we’ve destroyed it.
Aran: I can definitely see that happening too. Actually, since we wrote this piece I have become a lot more aware of seagull song, it seems to follow me everywhere. Maybe the takeover has already begun?
What’s your local music scene like?
Aran: We don't really have a local music scene currently as we are working together from different countries. David is based in Sheffield and I am working out of Dublin and we have shared projects that we work on remotely. I have noticed that there are actually quite a few independent acts that operate this way nowadays, and I guess that would be an abstract scene that we fit in to. We're just so lucky to live in an age where this is possible!
What do you have planned for the next 12 months? Any albums or festivals?
David: We have spent the last few years working on our debut album and hope to release it in the next 12 months as it's nearly finished. Having our own work stations means we're able to pour hundreds of hours into each song, which suits our experimental style perfectly. We've already released a single from it , '1ofmy,' earlier this year to really positive feedback, and we're really excited to see how the finished product is received.
Is there anyone you’d love to collaborate with?
David: It would have to be someone who enjoys taking FIFA breaks every hour. I wouldn't say that's up Thom Yorke’s avenue unfortunately!
Any funny stories surrounding your live performances?
Aran: Before we were Manyana, we were both part of a different band called 'The Excuses' with a couple of our other friends. Coincidently, there was a punk band from another part of Ireland with the same band name as us, and we were booked to play a gig close to their hometown. This place was in the back arse of nowhere, and the four of us had somehow managed to pile into my tiny car, gear and all, to go and find this place and play a gig to, probably tops, 20 people. Now although we had disbanded and became Manyana before the gig, we were annoyingly still billed under our old name ‘The Excuses’. And lo and behold, when we arrive at the venue we instantly notice two crusty looking punks in the corner of the bar with a suspicious looking burlap sack, with 'The Excuses' written on it. And we’re kind of thinking, you know, what the fuck, but just walk on in anyway and get started with setup and soundcheck. So we’re in the middle of soundcheck and these guys are booing us from the corner and at first we’re like ‘haha’ but pretty quickly we have enough of it, and David goes over to them to see what their problem is, and of course the guys say they from the real ‘Excuses’ and they reveal the rancid tomatoes in the burlap sack which they’re going to pelt us with when we’re playing later on, to teach us a lesson or whatever. It takes a while but we manage to convince them that we had actually changed our name to Manyana a couple of weeks ago, that we don’t care about the ‘Excuses’ name and we would never play under the name again, and he mercifully decides to spare us the ravaging. It was a bizarre encounter, can’t imagine caring about a name so much that you would want to pelt a couple of young lads for unknowingly sharing a band name. But that’s one of the reasons we love ‘Manyana’. How many bands can say their name has saved them from a barrage of rancid tomatoes?
What is the one thing that you want readers to know about you?
Aran: If you ever wanted to know what the soundtrack of the far future would sound like, give our new release 'There's Glasses Need Collecting the Wide World Over' a listen!