- 06 Aug 21
Fresh from releasing an exciting double single today and a debut album earlier in the year, Aran Sheehy from Manyana sits down with Hot Press to discuss their upcoming biggest gig yet, late-stage capitalism, and his passion for Bohemians F.C.
Lockdown was a very productive time for Manyana.
Aran Sheehy's home studio set up shows one of the fruits from this period, a brand new dual monitor set-up in the background of our Zoom call.
"This is the workstation", he says with a grin after I ask if the files on the computer were new songs.
"I just got the second monitor there. I can see why they're all the rage."
He likely needs it, given how busy his musical project with David O'Rourke has been over the past year. The idea initially was to make Manyana a four-piece touring band, but Sheehy and O'Rourke struggled to find like-minded artists with the needed commitment level. Deciding to go it alone, Manyana haven't looked back since, with their creative output increasing astronomically since narrowing it down to two people.
Not only are they riding high with a debut album, NTM, released back in March, but Manyana is also dropping a new double single today with much more in the pipeline.
"Working on the album was a long time thing, but lockdown supercharged it because we both had lots of time to work on it," he acknowledges.
"We used to be a rock band, but we chose to transition into experimental electronic music. I play drums and Dave plays guitar, so we had to pick up all sorts of different instruments and learn them. It was a big learning curve."
"It was so interesting. There's a lot of similarities between that and a rock song, but then in some ways, it's totally different. When it's an instrumental, you can't hide behind a vocal line and you don't get away with repetition. It was great. It really puts you outside your comfort zone."
Although some of their new work is instrumental, the inspiration for their tracks is as topical and relevant as it would be for any rock band—one of the new songs on their single A.Doubler, 'Mondu Juno', is about late-stage capitalism.
"It comes out of what Dave and myself studied in college. He has a Masters in political science and I did a lot of critical theory and political economy. Even though when you're in college, you might not think that that stuff has an effect on your creation of art but it does.
"It's also about football. Dave was reading a book called The Jakarta Method, which is about an Indonesian Communist critical thinker who was talking about how football could be a lesson for a collective society and we're both big fans of football so that resonated with us."
A fan of one of Dublin's most famous clubs, Bohemians (in a funny coincidence, both him and I were going to the latest European match for the Northside club on the day of the interview), he sees the impact that wealth inequality has had on the League of Ireland.
"The League of Ireland suffered the effects of capitalism even before other leagues due to being right next door to the Premier League, but they have come from the brink of bankruptcy to being fan-owned and now they're going through their most successful period ever. So, fingers crossed, they can keep that rolling on."
Like Bohemians' plucky ride through the Europa Conference League so far this Summer, Manyana is also reaching new heights with what's set to be their biggest gig ever in Marlay Park in September soon to be announced.
"So looking forward it. It's funded by our local county council, which is Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown. It's going to be free, so can't wait for that, but you register for tickets for traceability."
They'll have plenty of new tunes to play at the gig in what has been and continues to be an exciting year for the duo, not content to rest on their laurels.
Listen to '1994' and 'Mondu Juno' from Manyana's new single below:
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