Electronica with a soul. Not necessarily soulful electronica, but electronica with a purpose – a purpose beyond just moving your feet. There’s purpose behind every note, every turn, every high, every low that Neu Mannas (better known under the musical project name, Voldo Blanka) directs in his music, and it’s ensnaring more and more fans with every passing day. Mannas is the former frontman of alternative rock group Head of the Herd, the first band in Canadian history to have a #1 rock single without a record label. After three albums and some fantastic success, Neu left to hone his skills as a multi-instrumentalist and composer for screens big and small, before mixing together all of those lessons from those roles to create a new brand of dramatic alternative electronica, a captivating sonic adventure that’s difficult to pull away from. Voldo Blanka has been honing in on an initial record to represent this new alt-electric, and he’s found a collection that does the music justice, an album titled Nuns Enjoy A Madman.
Mannas told us more about the effort, stating the process was “fascinating and slightly disturbing all at once.” He continues, “I came from a whole different world musically, and this was an experiment with prolonged isolation. If I let myself follow my impulses at every crossroads, and take random turns whenever they presented themselves, I knew I’d be left with either something great, or something terrible. And the less terrible songs are the ones that made the record.” Obviously, click to http://www.voldoblanka.com/
XXQs: Voldo Blanka
PensEyeView.com (PEV): How would you describe your sound and what makes you stand out from others in your genre?
Voldo Blanka (VB): I’m making electronica with a soul. Not just pushing buttons and chart chasing. I’ve taken what I’ve learned as a film composer and touring rock n’ roller, thrown that into a dark room and what came out is ethereal at times, and auditory violence at others. I took the mood manipulating techniques of scoring and sound design, and made people dance with it. So there’s fear, horror, & suspense, which gets released into some real groovy shit.
PEV: What kind of music were you into growing up? Do you remember your first concert?
VB: I’ve always been into rock n’ roll. But less the rock and more the roll. I grew up on the bass so the relationship I’ve had with drummers has always been the bedrock of my songwriting. And when it came to Nuns Enjoy a Madman, those rhythmic elements were the queen that every other part bowed to.
My first memory was Weird Al walking on stage and shooting his keyboard player dead. Dude lied there still for the next two hours. Probably why I don’t shy away from theatre in the gig.
PEV: What was it like trying to break into the music scene when you first started? What was your first show like?
VB: I love music so much I dedicated my life to it, but I never really gave a fuck about the scene. That’s probably why I’m happy and still doing it. Seen so many people crash, burn, and quit trying to fit their square pegs through round holes, and that wasn’t gonna be me. And staying true to the art form is what’s always had my back. My last group was the first band in my country’s history to have a #1 with no label. And that’s just from writing what was in my heart. So trying to break into the music scene is a needle/haystack situation when the haystack is underwater, but when you find it, and your music really connects with people for the first time, it’s better than scissors gliding through gift wrap.
The first gig was to my whole school. Four of us playing four different songs in four different keys at four different speeds. Now that you mention it, there’s a VHS I ought to be burning right now.
VB: If I’m not sweating, crying, and/or bleeding, something went wrong.
PEV: What is the first thing that comes to mind when you step on stage to perform?
VB: Don’t think. In that situation thinking is only gonna get between you and what the audience needs.
PEV: What is the best part about being on stage in front of an audience?
VB: You spend years writing songs, practicing, producing, planning….and the live show is the ONLY time you get to share a moment that is entirely unique with the people you’re playing for. It’s not one-sided…the crowd has to be as good as the band, and when those two lock antlers, life’s worth living.
PEV: What is the underlying inspiration for your music?
VB: Sometimes you do the kicking, and sometime you get kicked, and generally you keep your teeth, which is nice cause it’s hard to sing without them. All that makes me find a blank page and start scribbling. But it’s usually the dark corners of my brain that end up on records.
PEV: Thinking back to when you first started out, do you ever look back on your career and think about your earlier days and how you’ve arrived where you are today?
VB: Otherwise phrased as “are you constantly kicking yourself cause you’re so gaddam stupid/pinching yourself cause you’re so gaddam lucky at the same time??” to which the answer is, “yupp.”
PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about you?
VB: I once watched 16 Shania Twain concerts in a row.
PEV: What happens when you hit a brick wall when writing? What are your methods to get over it?
VB: I have a dog who looks like a wizard. Old and wise like Master Splinter. Often when I’m about to throw my synth off a bridge, he walks in and rests his chin on it which is generally cued up to some horrific setting that knocks me off my seat and out of my rut.
PEV: How do you think the industry has changed since you first started out?
VB: It used to be like The Walking Dead, and then it was like 28 Days Later, and now it’s like that opening scene in Blade when the blood is coming out of the sprinklers.
PEV: What can fans expect from your debut album, Nuns Enjoy A Madman? What was the writing process like for this work?
VB: It was fascinating and slightly disturbing all at once. I came from a whole different world musically, and this was an experiment with prolonged isolation. If I let myself follow my impulses at every crossroads, and take random turns whenever they presented themselves, I knew I’d be left with either something great, or something terrible. And the less terrible songs are the ones that made the record.
PEV: With all your traveling, is there one area you wish you could travel around and play that you have not yet?
VB: Japan is the very top of that list.
PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your career?
VB: With support and confusion which is truly the best case scenario.
PEV: What can we find you doing in your spare time, aside from playing/writing music?
VB: Creeping through the woods with a bow and arrow is high on my list of shit to do. Not woods like the park, but woods like the mountains. Don’t call the cops.
VB: Nina Simone…always Nina Simone. Assuming it goes without saying in this particular scenario we have the technology to reanimate the dead.
PEV: Is there an up and coming band or artist you think we should all be looking out for now?
VB: Fever Feel have got something amazing going on.
PEV: If playing music wasn’t your life (or life’s goal), what would you do for a career?
VB: I’m pretty good and digging holes and burying stuff.
PEV: So, what is next for Voldo Blanka?
VB: Supporting Nuns Enjoy A Madman and praying to whoever will listen, that whoever listens, listens loud.
For more information, click to http://www.voldoblanka.com/.