Behind The Beat | Manila Killa Interview
Recently, we had a chance to sit down with one of the most exciting prospects from the DC area. Ladies and gentlemen, we present to you Manila Killa.
Only The Beat: Let’s start with your background, and how it inspired your name.
Manila Killa: Well, I’m from the Philippines, and I spent my time there in Manila. That’s where I acquired my taste for this whole dance music mess. And a few years down the road when I started producing, I was trying to come up with a name. I already wanted to have it related to the city Manila, and my friend came to the rescue and suggested I should have it rhyme with something. And so “killa” was the only fitting part to the second part of my name, so that’s how it was formed.
OTB: Interesting. Are there any particular artists that you listened to growing up who influenced you greatly?
MK: I do remember being 8 years old and seeing Daft Punk on MTV for the first time. One More Time was playing, and that’s when I fell in love with the dance duo. My siblings and I would dance to the TV every time it came on. Other than that, my music taste always followed what was on the radio, until high school.
OTB: And what made you start producing?
MK: I started producing/messing around with the idea back in freshman year of high school. My school hosted a Battle of the Bands and one group in particular only had one guitar, but had a computer and synthesizer set up on a table. When they began their set, I was blown away. I really didn’t know it was possible to literally get on the computer and make music just like THAT. So I owe a lot to them for inspiring me initially.
OTB: Other than that, do you have a musical background?
MK: I played the cello from grade school up until 8th grade. Then studied the guitar and the drums independently, casually, really, from then till now.
OTB: Got it. Off topic, but favorite actress/model?
MK: Hahaha! It would have to be between Mila Kunis and Natalie Portman…but I’m leaning more towards Mila.
OTB: So you’re a brunette guy?
MK: If a girl’s cute, then a girl’s cute. I wouldn’t say I have a type, haha.
OTB: Haha! Back to the music, where do you think your career really started to kick off?
MK: Definitely with my remix for Mike Posner’s ‘Please Don’t Go.’ When I threw it up on soundcloud, I didn’t expect much of it. But then the next day, one of my friends hit me up and was like, “dude, you’re #5 on hypem.” and I was so surprised! Next thing I know, Mike Posner himself is listening to my track via Turntable.fm. That’s when the momentum really started to pick up.
OTB: Did you send it in to a Hype Machine blog yourself?
MK: What was weird was that I didn’t. A blog, the Jackplug, was responsible for picking the track up and getting it onto the Hypem.
OTB: Haha, lucky you. I wish it was that easy these days. What was the highest you’ve charted?
MK: Agreed. It’s really tough to get noticed because there’s so so so much music around now. The highest was with that track I believe. It reached #3.
OTB: So now you’re signed/have a manager. How did that come about, if you don’t mind me asking?
MK: They hit me up on twitter last year actually, and I was interested in taking the next step. So I did! Simple as that. They’ve definitely helped me grow as an artist.
OTB: Got it. How has social media helped you as an artist? Besides getting signed, of course.
MK: Without it, I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today. Social media is where everyone turns to to find new music. It’s just way easier to be opened up to new things, such as music, through a couple clicks and some search bars.
OTB: Now, back to music. What is your personal favorite production that you made?
MK: If we’re talking productions in the past, it would have to be between my most recent remix of Night by Night, or my remix of Bon Iver’s Perth. But I’m working on original with a friend right now that’ll be out soon – that’s my favorite production.
OTB: Any previews available?
MK: Not yet, unfortunately.
OTB: Oh well. Besides EDM, what do you listen to? And, if so, who are your favorites of the month?
MK: Aside from “EDM,” I listen to a lot Bon Iver, Phoenix, Stars, Frank Ocean, Explosions in the Sky, Sigur Ros, and Toro Y Moi. I do enjoy Kanye and a bit of hip hop as well. I used to breakdance so I was into a lot of old funky 70s music. Oh and I also really enjoy Benjamin Francis Leftwich. as well as Vampire Weekend.
OTB: The xx ? And, did you catch Vampire Weekend’s live show?
MK: Yes, The xx! Sorry, I forgot about them. I also listen to film scores – I love them. Hans Zimmer and Steve Jablonsky are among my favorite composers. Yup I did. I melted when they performed ‘Step’.
OTB: Unrelated, but have you looked into official remixes? A la RAC.
MK: Yes I have, I’m not sure how much I can say but I recently remixed a deep house artist’s tune. I guess the label really liked it – they scrapped the vocals I used of the original song and they’re currently finding new vocals for it. It’s now projected to be an original release on the label.
OTB: Very cool. Heading back to EDM, favorite (big) producers?
MK: Oliver. Those guys are amazing. Lifelike, The Magician, A-Trak, Chris Malinchak, Madeon, The Twelves, Seven Lions, Bag Raiders, the list goes on.
OTB: Name 10.
MK: Those 9, and Fred Falke.
OTB: Interesting. Name a vocalist, or multiple, that you want on one of your tracks.
MK: It’d be awesome to have Isabel Francisco (a friend who went to my high school) to be on one of my tracks in the future. Zak Waters, Chela, Rhys, and how amazing would it be to have David Macklovitch (of Chromeo) on a track?!?
OTB: Upcoming producers? Who haven’t completely made it yet.
MK: My man deVexo, AObeats, Luke & Skywalker, Cillo, RUNVS, and Lenno. If you haven’t heard about any of them now, you will soon.
OTB: And, now for the future. What’s your plan? Or your management’s plan for you? And what are your goals?
MK: I’m sort of steering my own path as of late, exploring many genres. I really enjoy the disco sound coming back so I’ve been working on a lot of material related to that sound. But for now, my plan is just to release music. That’s about it. I’m still in school so of course I’m going to keep up with my schoolwork, though.
OTB: But after school? Do you plan to stick with this? Also, what year are you, and what is your (current) major?
MK: After school I plan to pursue what I’m studying in school but have the music thing on the side – but who knows what’ll happen from now until then. I’m a sophomore in university studying finance business.
OTB: Cool. And that just about wraps things up. Any final words?
MK: Yeah, watermelon Jolly Ranchers are the only good kind of Jolly Ranchers.
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