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A Dirty Dozen with MANORA – December 2021 (BMA)

| 8 December 2021 | Reply

According to a recent press release: “Manora originated several years ago when guitarist Ivo Visser and keyboard player Arthur Stok started writing their own songs. After several lineup changes Manora found a steady lineup at the end of 2016, with Tijn Scholtze on drums, Tomasz Kisielewicz on bass and vocalist Mirte van der Ham. With this lineup, the whole process accelerated which led to the release of Manora’s first EP Dreamshapes, ready to unleash to the world on September 1st, 2017. On January 8, 2021, Manora released their first music video “Wired to Obey,” this is the first single of the upcoming album that is released on October 15, 2021. Manora is a symphonic metal band from the Netherlands. Their sound is characterized by clean vocals and catchy synth melodies, while still maintaining a metal foundation which is accounted for by B-tuned guitars and bass backed up by pounding drums. The band is a finalist for the 5th Annual Banger Music Awards in the following category: BEST ALBUM.” We get the band to discuss new music, influences, and more…

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets you put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

Mirte: Brave the Storm is our first full-length album, and we’re of course really proud of it. We have not worked with a producer on this album, so we were able to put our heart and soul into writing all the music and make it sound exactly the way we wanted it to.

Ivo: I think people might not hear the first time they listen, is that we paid a lot of attention to every detail; we have added a lot of additional (woodwind) instruments and vocals, e.g. whispering on the background.

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician? Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

Mirte: I realized I wanted to develop my singing voice pretty much when I went to high school. We’d just done a school musical and I enjoyed singing very much and discovered I was actually quite good at it. However, I was a bit shy, so I only took up singing classes when I was 16. From there I gained a lot of confidence and decided I really wanted to be in a band. Around the same time I started listening to Within Temptation and went to a lot of concerts. So I would say they were my first inspiration to want to sing in a band.

3. What was your reaction to being included in the Banger Music Awards process? Did you ever think what you were doing would be elevated to “award” status?

Mirte: It’s super exciting and feels a bit unreal to be nominated for a reward. When you write an album, of course you hope people are going to like it, but it’s always scary. So far we’ve had so many great responses and reviews, it’s really everything we would have hoped for.

4. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

Ivo: I would describe it as metal, but more catchy and melodic with clean female vocals. Most of the time when I describe our music to someone who isn’t familiar with the genre, I use examples like Within Temptation and Nightwish, cause most people have heard of them nowadays. I have read one review where they missed completely what our music is all about; “too many keyboards, brass and choirs”, they didn’t like the female vocals and it was not metal enough.

5. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

Ivo: Tuomas Holopainen from Nightwish, I am very curious to his way of working, and even more how it would sound if we bring together our musical ideas.

6. How important to you is the local music scene and acceptance by not only the fans but also your peers?

Ivo: Many people view the Netherlands as the birthplace of many great symphonic metal bands, like Within Tempation and Epica. However, the genre itself is not very big here in the mainstream charts. We have to work very hard to reach new fans, and having a network and collaborating with other bands and musicians is very important.

Mirte: I would say that the symphonic metal scene here, although relatively small, is very welcoming to new bands, which I think we’re very lucky with. It often seems like one big family.

7. When your band is hanging out together, who cooks, who gets the drinks in, and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

Mirte: We don’t hang out in our free time a lot, because we all have our own social / family life next to the band and we all have fulltime jobs as well. When we write music it’s usually at Ivo’s place because he has a home studio. We also sometimes eat at his place as well, so I would say Ivo cooks.

Ivo: Yes, cooking is one of my biggest hobbies.

Mirte: We also get together to discuss band stuff and I think usually Arthur brings the beers. Or whoever has the time to go grocery shopping. On those evenings we don’t really play music, that’s really something for the rehearsal room and the studio.

8. When was the last time you were starstruck and who was it?

Mirte: When I was a teenager I used to be a big fan of bands like Within Temptation, and I met Sharon den Adel one time after the concert. I really couldn’t say a word because I was so nervous. But since I started singing in a band myself and am getting older, I don’t get starstruck that easily anymore.

9. What is the best part of being a musician? If you could no longer be a musician for whatever reason, what would be your dream job?

Ivo: Actually I already have my dream job beside being a musician; I am an Electrical engineer at ESA (European NASA), the big advantage of my electrical background is that I can maintain my own amplifiers.

Mirte: What I like most about being in a band is that I am able to use my thoughts and experiences to make art. It’s a great way of expressing myself. I am also very happy with my career besides singing; I work as a research assistant in a large hospital in the Netherlands and I would really like to continue working in health research.

10. What is one question you would like an interviewer to ask – and what is the answer? Conversely, what question are you tired of answering?

Ivo: Of course some questions are coming back in every interview, but I am always looking to the whole interview, and personally I never find it boring. I don’t know what question I would ask myself. I think I leave that to the interviewer, the unpredictable questions are the most of the fun.

Mirte: We haven’t done so many interviews that we are tired of hearing the same question over and over again. Maybe we need more experience for that.

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over,” even if it didn’t change your current situation?

Ivo: I wish I had discovered a DAW (recording guitars etc. with my pc), and working with plugins for musical arrangements much earlier. I have improved a lot with producing music from home since I discovered that.

Mirte: I don’t regret anything we’ve done so far with the band. Earlier in my life as a musician I would change some things. For example, I used to have piano lessons, but stopped it because I became a teenager and suddenly found practicing stupid. I wish I would have continued those classes, because now it’s much more difficult to learn.

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

Mirte: I would like to be there for the recording of Endless Forms Most Beautiful by Nightwish because it is one of my favorite albums and I would really like to see Tuomas’ musical genius at work and I would also love to see how they record the orchestral parts.






Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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