We caught up with the New York City based electronic artist, MANIK, just after the release of his highly anticipated album.
The Queens born DJ and producer, MANIK, takes us on a journey of New York City with his latest album, ‘Undergroundknowledge’. MANIK’s latest project includes a variety of electronic influences from old school New York jazz to late 80’s Acid House. ‘Undergroundknowledge’ was released last week on Josh Wink’s Ovum Records and takes you on an underground journey of notable NYC locations from Queens to Manhattan.
What have you enjoyed the most so far about 2017?
Getting a chance to go home to NYC more times this year than the last few years combined, has been pretty cool. Seeing family and friends more often. Otherwise, on a mental level, really finding myself musically and settling into a great production rhythm that fits me and where I want to go as an artist.
Take us through ‘undergroundknowledge’ in more detail, for those who aren’t aware of its NYC location connections.
It’s a window into how I grew up in NYC- specifically off of Queens Blvd and Union Turnpike. “7 Train Intro” is basically taking place on the 7 Train at Queensboro Plaza station- on the way into Queens. So all the nuances there like the intercom system, the train doors opening, all that stuff is supposed to transport the listener right there to Queensboro Plaza. “APT 3D1” is the apartment I grew up in as a kid. I lived there until I was 16. Within this track there’s basically 2 main references going on: I am watching TV and flipping the channels into stuff I loved as a kid. ‘Coming To America’, ‘Above The Rim’ are just two of the movies I scan. There is also a clip of an NBA game with my 2 favorite players growing up: Allen Iverson and Michael Jordan. The other big NYC connection is that the main news station I continue to flip back to (heard right at the start of APT.3D1) is Channel 5 News. The standard for NYC at 10pm. They were doing a piece on graffiti and specifically, SMART Crew, back around 98/99. Jeffrey Gamblero aka KORN, who sadly passed away a few years ago, was listed as public enemy number 1 by the Guilliani anti graffiti campaign in the late 90s. He was a friend of mine and I wanted to highlight this interview during this interlude. I used to look up to his graf-work and mimic his tags in my notebook in junior high school. He was a Queens legend. Also track titles like “Metropolitan Ave” and “Lefrak City” represent parts of the city I frequented growing up. “Gentrification” speaks to the negative and positive aspects of NYC changes in the recent decade. And “5 Pointz” highlights my love for the street art institution that sadly was turned into high-end housing a few years back. That place was amazing.
If you could go back in time to a certain era of NYC music when would it be and why?
I would go back to the late 70s and mid 80s so I could attend Paradise Garage with Larry Levan DJing- also see the Knicks when they were kind of good. But yeah, as a member of the loft, I was able to see Mancuso DJ, but it was in 2011. So experiencing the loft thirty years prior would’ve been even more special.
How would you describe the current ‘House’ scene in NYC at the moment?
It’s thriving. NYC will always thrive- even when perceived as a downward trend. Personally, liking ‘Good Room’ in Brooklyn. Labels like Firehouse Love Notes do it for me. The LOT Radio has done a ton as well with pushing the underground scene forward. That radio station is totally non-profit and runs off the coffee out front in Greenpoint.
Give us some names of your favourite record stores for finding some one of a kind white label stuff?
A-1 is my favorite by far. They have everything and I try to hit it up whenever I stay longer in the city. Some other fantastic record shops include Human head and Co-Op 87.
“He represents the opposite of what we all stand for honestly. Frankly, I hope he is only a 1 term president.” MANIK
Whats your favourite bit of music production kit and what have you enjoyed working with the most for you latest album?
Honestly I have 2. The Roland TB03 has been fantastic for acid related jams. Track 7 on the album was produced with it. I am also loving the Pioneer/Dave Smith combo SP-16 Sampler. I used that a ton to sample with and just process drum sequences. It’s really fantastic and has made my music production process so much smoother.
Have you ever been involved with the notable street culture of NYC such as graffiti and the whole hip hop scene?
As mentioned above, I was friends with some of the guys within the ‘graf’ and also hip hop scene- just from growing up around them in Queens. Meyhem Lauren actually went to my elementary school and I used to play basketball with his younger brother. So we all knew each other. Wouldn’t call myself “involved” in the scene though. Just respected it and had a real fascination too. I do however produce hip hop beats even today- on the regular- and do have a side project coming early 2018.
Personal thoughts on Donald Trump and how his actions are currently affecting New Yorkers?
I think his actions are affecting a lot of people negatively, not just New Yorkers. He is from Queens too but Queens doesn’t claim him. He represents the opposite of what we all stand for honestly. Frankly, I hope he is only a 1 term president.
Which NYC sports teams do you follow if any?
This one is a tough call. I like the Knicks (old school Knicks- Ewing, Starks, Mason) but the new Knicks of the last 20 have been a laughing stock. It’s ok ,we as new yorkers are allowed to make fun of them. I am for sure more of a “Players guy” at this age when it comes to my NBA obsession. Love Russell Westbrook on OKC and Lillard from Portland. Back to the NYC part of it, in football, I’ve always been more of a JETS guy- yes unfortunately- although we have won 3 in a row all of a sudden! And for baseball, I am not much a baseball guy, but I do enjoy the Mets and Yankees equally.
Personal favorite brands/streetwear labels/sneakers etc?
Honestly, I like to buy vintage stuff mostly. Just a cool sweater or jacket. Or an interesting and unique tee. Anything with an old school NBA related theme to it I love automatically. Anything NYC related too. Wasted heroes and Palm & Marble have some cool stuff over in the U.K. with more “techno oriented” clothing. Oh and I love a good pair of classic kicks: Nike Air Force Ones, Converse Chuck Taylors or Classic Reeboks. That’s me in a nutshell.