Niall Mannion as Mano is known to his parents, is originally from Greystones, a seaside village near Dublin, Ireland. After an eclectic musical youth and a move to Berlin, Mannion first popped up on the electronic music radar in 2009 with an ep on legendary disco Viking Prins Thomas’ Internasjonal label. With his unique mixture of modern disco, atmospheric house and electronica (although musical genres like these do not quite capture the essence of Mano’s music; he prefers to describe it as “cool songs” or “Folkal House” which seem in some way more appropriate), Niall quickly gained massive interest in his music. So it was no surprise that eps on such acclaimed labels as Tensnake’s Mirau imprint, Dirt Crew recordings and Ben Watt’s Buzzin Fly followed his remarkable debut. In no time Mano also became a much sought after remixer for the likes of Aloe Blacc , Midnight Magic, Flowers and Sea Creatures and Roisin Murphy.
Musically, what drives & inspires you?
I suppose from an early age I knew I wanted to do something creative which eventually manifested itself into a drive to make music… what inspires me is usually subject matter from my everyday life. Quite often I have an idea or a feeling when im away from the studio that I try to represent musically later… I always write stuff down in my phone for future use… it can be a phrase or an idea or whatever… I guess that’s the conceptual side… I also get inspired by various types of music that I hear which I incorporate or mutate and use in my work…
People were emigrating Ireland for centuries. Why did you move to Berlin? Was that because you wanted to, or because you had to?
I’ve moved there because I wanted to. I went there because of techno music and it’s still working for me for the moment. There’s no city like Berlin when it comes to music and club scene.
How would you describe your sound and what you do?
I think maybe it is easier for others to describe my sound and what I do than it is for me. For me it‘s changing all the time but I guess there are some constants which re- cur in my work, there is usually a lot of melodic elements and I try to make every song special in some way. It‘s really important for me to keep improving and to challenge myself with every track, I try my best not to make filler tracks or to repeat myself. I guess I just want to create songs that express who I am and I hope that people like them.
When you start making a track, do you have a direction for it from the beginning or does it happen more organically as you work through the process?
When I start a track I often have an idea or a feeling but often as I get deeper into it the creative process takes over and it turns into some kind of journey. This is certainly the case with the special tracks… it becomes much more intuitive and fluent but the basic concept is usually still present.
Do you feel most creative when you’re in the studio or do ideas come to you more sporadically? If so, do you have a method of remembering them or recording them….say like you’re at the pictures or something?
As I said earlier I use my phone to record stuff when im away from the studio but usually its a phrase or idea rather than a melody or whatever… the studio is more my creative space for translating my ideas into music.
Is there a time or a moment that cemented in your mind that playing / making music was the way forward for you?
I guess when I was around 17 and started writing music it was a big moment…that was more guitar/indie music. it was really great to start being creative musically. Then getting software and starting to make electronic music was also a sort of moment of epiphany. I guess it was the realisation that you could produce a complete piece of art using a limited amount of equipment which was important to me.
Producing music is obviously quite a personal thing; when you’ve finished and released a track (E.P.) is there any detachment for you, like do you need to let that one go so you can move on to the next project?
I don’t think I become detached from my music when I release a track. The track is still personal to me, the music is always mine in a way but after its released its shared with all these other people too. As for letting go to concentrate on the next project, projects are usually overlapping all the time so that isn’t so much of an issue…
You’re a talented musician as well as a DJ, which I feel is quite audible in the music you make. Can you describe how each facet helps you to produce?
The musician side of me is the most important when im making music. I guess my music is pretty melodic which comes more from playing instruments than from djing. The dj side influences me also as I am still making stuff mostly for the dance floor. It mightn’t be like that forever but for now it seems pretty natural for me to that.
Away from music what excites / inspires / pushes you?
I guess what excites/inspires/pushes me away from music are the usual things, literature, good food, my family and friends, sunsets, telling jokes…