FEATURE: Manna “The World Is Not That Big Music Wise”

“People will always compare. I do that when someone asks me what I thought, I just say it was a little bit of this and little bit of that.” Finland’s Manna is quite aware that as a female solo artist about to be launched into the currently female dominated British music scene that there will be inevitable comparisons. She accepts it but like many a musician does wish it were otherwise. “Obviously I want to make my own sound. It is easy to compare. It is better that people listen and make their own decisions.” The music press and blogs are already hailing her as a new PJ Harvey or Alanis Morissette. Her raw sound proving somewhat refreshing in the current 80s electro climate. Clearly accepting of the Harvey likeness, her reaction to Morissette is slightly different. “Alanis, I was surprised because I never listen to her music. I am not saying anything bad about her. I mean I remember her hits but she isn’t someone I have ever stopped and listened to.”

“Obviously I want to make my own sound. It is easy to compare.”

As for defining her own position in the current climate, the Parisian born half-Algerian, half-Finn seems unsure. “I don’t know yet. I hope I am in there somewhere.” She is aware that her sound is different to all the other girls out there, but hopes that this will allow her be found. She proclaims herself a big fan of “Florence and The Machine. I love her voice. The fact is, I am just getting to know the music here better. I was booked to support Marina and The Diamonds but the gig didn’t fit my schedule. So now I am booked to support Ellie Goulding, which is very different but very good music. So I am just excited to be able to be working alongside these girls and getting to know them. I can’t wait to do festivals and gigs.”

“I grew up listening to The Verve, I am not saying my music sounds anything like them, but I loved their music. Also The Stone Roses and Elastica, I loved them. The British bands I love are sort of older.” Having moved from Paris to Finland at the age of five, Manna grew up in the age of Britpop. Though she connected with some of Finland’s finest she found her musical home in the edginess and honesty of Britpop’s finest. “To be honest I have always listened to male-vocal music. I don’t know why, but for some reason I have always listened to the boys more. I can’t tell you who my idol is.”

Her connection with male-led bands has clearly taken effect. “A lot of music journalists are finding quite a male sound with the heavy guitars. It is actually interesting. Somebody said to me I sounded like Kasabian. I actually don’t mind the ideas that people get, I haven’t gotten any horrible comparisons yet. It is ok for now.”

For someone who dislikes obvious comparisons, Manna never writes the unexpected off. Instead she embraces a suggestion and tries to understand the reason behind it. Having stayed true to the sounds which inspired her, Manna is far from surprised by the male comparisons. “I have never  been afraid to mix emotional lyrics and sensitive material with raw sound. Things don’t have to be so obvious. Pop melodies with a soft production. I like to  keep the edge there, something which gets under my skin. There are not so many guys who do that, it is more guys.”

“I can’t really write without it being somehow true. That’s just my way of working, I am not saying it is the right way. Everyone has their own way to work. It is all quite honest and raw, but there is still a hope and desire for life. Living life to the full and allowing all emotions. It is hard to describe emotions really, but I just try to be honest with my music.” Having been famous in Finland for several years, first as an actress then a singer, Manna has had her fair share of positive and negative attention. Her 2008 debut album “Sisters” was slated by critics. At the time she was just an actress turned singer, who happened to be married to HIM guitarist Linde. Viewed as another celebrity cashing in on their situation, Manna’s musical efforts were written off.

“When you are honest, you have nothing to hide. You can take it or leave it.”

Whilst in private her and Linde were in fact going through a divorce and Manna had been taken for a ride by her record label, who had allowed her no creative freedom with the record. It felt like her world was crumbling, but prompted her need for honesty. “At first it is easy to be scared. But then, if you think about it, when you are honest, you have nothing to hide. You can take it or leave it. I am what I am, I hope you like it. If you don’t, well doesn’t matter. There isn’t any role to play, it isn’t an act. I can then move on all the time, musically and personally, just as Manna.”

The brave decision paid off with the self-penned “Songs Of Hope And Desire” proving both a critical and commercial success on her home turf , Manna is excited to broaden her horizons with her UK release.

“Songs Of Hope And Desire” is out now.
http://www.myspace.com/mannamariam

Words & Images: Jeremy Williams

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