We’ve talked about how excited we are to see Manic Focus at Gem & Jam this weekend, but we were lucky enough to dive deep and ask him about mental health, the future of funk music, and his upcoming Solar Escape Tour.
John “JmaC” McCarten, also known as Manic Focus has been a heavy-hitter in the genre for a long time, and we were super stoked to hear about his legacy and what the future holds for him!
Electric Hawk: Happy new year! You had such a huge 2019, from touring throughout the year (I actually went to your Brooklyn Bowl show!) and releasing Lost in a Digital World. How do you manage to do it all and what’s your favorite part?
Manic Focus: My favorite part is writing music in the studio, but once I finish a tune, I’m very excited to try it out live. I love seeing the crowd’s reaction to new tunes. I’ve learned a ton about production and song structure from crowd reactions. The crowd at my shows definitely fuels a lot of the inspiration in the studio.
EH: You’ve mentioned your producer name comes from your diagnosis of Bipolar I. I read your Forbes interview and appreciate how open you are about your mental health, and think it’s something we should all talk more openly about! It must be hectic to go through an episode while on stage, but it’s amazing that your fans seem super supportive. How do you think living with this condition affects your ability to make music and have a career in entertainment as a whole?
MF: There are days when I feel super happy and inspired to create music, and there are some days when I’m down and don’t even want to touch anything musical. Bipolar I is definitely a challenge to manage, but having the healthy outlet of creating music has certainly made it easier to manage my emotions overall.
EH: Do you have any advice for people wanting to get into the music industry who also have mental health issues?
MF: Work hard and do your best to keep your emotions in check. Though music contains a wide variety of emotions, the industry around it is very much a business, and it’s very important to maintain a level head and business mentality when approaching decisions within the industry. There are countless contributors to the music industry with decades of experience and expertise, and some of their biggest strengths are maintaining a level head through moments of adversity.
EH: You’ve also mentioned that social media is super important when it comes to promoting your music and tours, but it can definitely be draining when you have a lot of other things going on! If you could disconnect for a day, what would you do and who would you be with?
MF: I’d play video games and watch movies with my girlfriend, Kaylee.
EH: You started off beat-making by producing hip-hop and say you still use it as a guide for your current work. Who are your biggest hip-hop influences?
Dr. Dre and Atmosphere are two of my biggest hip-hop influences.
EH: Something you’ve said before is that you like playing festivals because, for most people, it’s the first time they’ll see you live. What do you do to make a great first impression on people at festivals? (We’re so excited to see you at Gem & Jam by the way!)
MF: I like to incorporate a lot of remixes of popular songs when I play festivals. Good remixes seem to leave the strongest, lasting impressions on new fans.
EH: Congrats on The Solar Escape Tour! We’re excited to see you there. Is there any venue that you’re really excited to play for the first time, and any venue you’re excited to perform at again?
MF: I’m excited to rock all these venues with Mersiv, Russ Liquid, and Daily Bread! These shows are all going to be very special with a lot of new material.
EH: Fun question—You were based in Chicago before, and that’s where a lot of the Electric Hawk team is located! If fans are coming to the city, where are your must-visit food spots? What about places to go that only locals would know about?
MF: When I lived there, there were a few places I liked to go quite often. Iguana Cafe is one of my favorite spots. Portillo’s is an obvious Chicago staple that I enjoy.
EH: Luca Lush tweeted some of his 2020 predictions for the electronic music community. Some being “DNB will finally take root in the states,” and “Trap & Future Bass DJs will rebrand into drill & wave.” Do you have any predictions about where the funk/electro-soul genre will go this year?
MF: I like to believe funk/electro-soul will get a lot more popular in the near future! I agree with the statement about drum and bass. I think the younger generation is craving weirder bass music overall.
EH: Do you have any new year’s resolutions?
I’m exercising a lot more than I did last year, and I’d like to keep it going as long as I can.
EH: What should fans be looking out for from Manic focus in 2020? The next decade? What are you most excited about? (Even if it doesn’t have to do with making music!)
MF: I have a lot of collaborations I’ve been working on that I hope to release in the coming months. I’m also hoping to release a sample pack and possibly a new Minds Mix. I’m excited to see the fans on the Solar Escape Tour!
Check out the dates of Manic Focus’ Solar Escape Tour below
(We’ll see you in NYC!)
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