We caught up recently with the Berlin-by-way-of-Dublin based producer Mano Le Tough, and talked a bit about his upcoming release on Buzzin' Fly, recording techniques, and his showcase next week at the Academy's World Tour stop in Berlin. We basically went head to head with him. Mano y mano, if you will...
First of all congratulations on your upcoming EP. And now I hear LP next year on Buzzin' Fly?
Thanks! Yes, my debut album is hopefully going to be out early 2012. I am really excited about it and am very glad it's coming out on Buzzin' Fly. I have been really impressed with how they have handled the 'Stories' EP, and I think Ben Watt [from the label] really understands what I am aiming to do with my music. It is brilliant to work with a label that really encourages me to challenge myself creatively and approach my music in a more abstract manner.
Now, you're from near Dublin originally, but you're in Berlin now... How is the Deutsch language coming along? Did you have to do those integration courses?
My Deutsch is definitely improving. I am currently taking private weekly grammar classes, and making a conscious effort to speak more German with my girlfriend who is from Switzerland. I am also reading German books and magazines. It has taken a while but I think I am really getting much better. It's a big disadvantage that I don't need to speak the language for my job but I am enjoying learning it at my own pace!
What's been the best and worst thing about living in Berlin?
Best thing - Being able to make music full time and develop as an artist.
Worst thing(s) - I think I want to live in the countryside soon and I miss my friends and family in Ireland.
I think vocals have made my music much more personal and I guess that can be nerve racking in a way.You are letting people in to your life a lot more than with instrumental music.
Give me a quick rundown of a "typical" Mano Le Tough day...
If I am not traveling, the typical Mano Le Tough day involves a lot of music making. I usually get up and maybe go to the Biomarkt, then I answer mails and start working. I like to make music during the day and have my evenings free to hang out with my girlfriend or just relax. It's also really important for me to get out everyday and be active. I got a new racing bike a few months ago and I like cycling it very much.
So, is this EP your first piece of output with your vocals on it? Do you see yourself releasing a full vocal record someday? Was is nerve-wracking at all releasing your vocals?
Yes, this is my first release featuring my vocals. It wasn't really that nerve wrecking releasing the vocal tracks as I was happy with how they sounded in the end. I found the mixing stage of one of the tracks difficult enough, I kept re-recording the vocals but in the end used the first take! It's an interesting thing though, I think vocals have made my music much more personal and I guess that can be nerve racking in a way. You are letting people in to your life a lot more than with instrumental music. My upcoming album on Buzzin' Fly will be mostly a vocal record. The majority of the music I have been writing over the last few months has included vocals.
Can you describe a bit of your studio setup right now?
My studio is in my living room in the same apartment I have had for four years. It is pretty simple setup but I like it. I use a Macbook Pro running Ableton Live, a Focusrite Pro24 DSP soundcard, Vermona DRM MKIII drum machine, Akai MPD 32, M-audio Axiom 49, Adam A7 monitors, a Fender Stratocaster, and some micophones. I had been thinking about getting a studio space but I enjoy the comfort of working from home and feel that I can be creative here so it works for me.
You're playing next week in Berlin as part of the Academy's Hansa studios celebration. And you're performing/reinterpreting songs from the back catalog. How did you go about this process? (and what did you pick? unless you want to keep it a secret.)
I actually haven't started my project for the Hansa studio celebration as I have had other stuff to finish first but I have a good idea of what I will be doing! I am DJing so expect to hear some Mano Le tough versions of Hansa classics in the set!
Mano Le Tough plays next week, September 7, as part of the Academy's World Tour in Berlin, in which we celebrate the lasting legacy of Hansa Studios. His 'Stories' EP comes out on Buzzin' Fly records September 19.