MANICS (Jordan Deherrera and Chris Sanders) from San Francisco, are known for their live performances, a medley of indie-pop vocals, bass & synth work, percussion and modulation (accompanied by matching lights and visuals). Since its inception in 2012, the project has developed into a dynamic performance of technology and raw emotion with their music being supported by Odessa, Goldroom, Poolside, Steve Aoki & others around the world. The duo are also the master-minds behind the bay-area indie label POPGANG Records. Founded in 2013, the label features artists and producers across a wide swath of genres and sub-cultures while retaining a cohesive identity built on the punk-DIY mentality turned modern. With over 110 releases to date, POPGANG’s catalogue is a diverse collection of work from the bay area & beyond.
The indie-dance act took a break from working on their album to answer some of our questions. Their infectioud new single ‘Make Out Room’ dropped on Friday, Oct. 18th, via POPGANG. You can hear it here (below), courtesy of The Playground.
Thanks for your time, how are you? What are you up to today?
Chris: Just wrapped a listening session with one of our artists, and did some mixing for some new POPGANG releases.
Jordan: Designed a million flyers and drank my body weight in Ito En.
Looking back, what were some of your earliest entries into music appreciation? And music production?
Chris: Beach Boys -> Bad Brains -> The Faint -> Justice. pretty much sums up my early appreciations. For production, I lived in Denmark for 6 months in college, and it was so fucking cold I ended up just staying in my apartment learning Ableton. I remember reading “Create Digital Music” magazine a ton during that time and just trying new stuff. I got a job working at a club/studio/label right after that and immediately got hooked producing with analog synths.
Jordan: Beach Boys fa sho, New Order and Daft Punk. As far as music-making goes my first “instrument” wasn’t even an instrument. It was a Boss 303 Sampler. So my first few creations were simple loop-based tracks, eventually I learned guitar, bass and keys, then playing in bands, then fruity loops and then Ableton.
Tell us about POPGANG Records, what inspired the move to establish your own label? What have been some of the ups and downs of this venture?
Jordan: I had started POPGANG as an artist network / event alias for parties I was throwing and some years later when Chris and I started making music we were having trouble with the label MANICS originally was signed to and felt we needed a little more freedom so we got our LLC and started the label end of POPGANG. POPGANG parties are still happening too and we’re still creating new themes and atmospheres with it.
Chris: The biggest struggle has just been trying to do everything on a shoe-string budget. SF is the most expensive city in the US, so just affording studio rent feels like an accomplishment sometimes. But licensing has been good and now we have a few parties that go off monthly. We love to put out music from our friends and to support bay area acts, and seeing people succeed and grow makes it all worthwhile!
You’re no strangers to the stage, what’s your favourite part of performing live?
Chris: There’s always one song that people start really feeling it and connecting. It’s always rad to see which one ends up hyping people, ‘cos it’s always different.
Jordan: At our most recent show with Moon Boots we saw people singing along to some of the songs and that was one of the most mind-blowing things to see from a stage.
Studio work and music creation or performing and interacting with a live audience, which do you prefer?
Chris: I love tinkering in the studio and trying to make something that sounds unique. But I also love when we bring ⅔ of our studio onto a stage and can recreate it all. I’m still surprised when it all works hahaha
Jordan: Stu fa sho.
What key pieces of gear/software are you using to define your sound?
Chris: We try to keep things simple, but that doesn’t always work out haha. We use a Prophet Rev2 for polyphony, a Moog Sub37 for mono bass and arp sounds. But one of our defining sounds recently has been to use Bass Guitar on almost everything new. It makes stuff feel more live and translates well to the stage. If we’re looking for something weird or abstract, sometimes we go to our modular rig, but it’s easy to get lost in there!
Jordan: We tend to go through phases. Right now we’re primarily analogue and it’s making the process way more fun because it pulls something better out of you when you’re not relying on a DAW.
What do you want to accomplish with your music?
Chris: We’ve played a lot in California, but would love to do a US or EU tour in 2020!
Jordan: Tour, we definitely need to spread our garbage physically.
What have you got in the pipeline for the coming months?
Chris: Still working on a full length. We’ve put out enough singles for one, but that doesn’t count.
Famous last words?
Chris: There’s too much poison in just hanging out.
Jordan: Follow us on Instagram @manicsmusic lol