All images in this article were provided by seradopa
After taking a long and adventurous galactic journey through galaxies, No Mana reaches the end of his tour and lands in Denver this past weekend at Temple Nightclub! While taking a pit stop to refuel and enjoy the crisp altitude of the Rocky Mountains, No Mana takes the Denver crowd through a nostalgia expedition. But before he took the stage, Electric Hawk was able to join in on the captain logs for an exclusive interview!
seradopa, Electric Hawk: Welcome to Denver! Hopefully, you had a safe flight coming in today!
No Mana: It was definitely a very bumpy ride coming in, there was a lot of turbulence on my way from Orange County!
seradopa: Oh yeah! I forgot it was very windy this morning! Well, I am glad you got here safely and hope tomorrow is a lot better flight!
No Mana: Thank you me too!
seradopa: How has this new tour been for you so far?
No Mana: This is kind of the end of this tour so far. Then there are just some one-offs, like San Francisco is the next big one on the 30th, and I stay there for New Years’ eve. And in January and February, we are still adding shows – also one-offs. But yeah we pretty much went over what was originally scheduled. Like this one, was even off the tour flyer!
seradopa: Yeah I was like looking through your tour flyer and didn’t see Denver on it!
No Mana: [Laughs] Yeah this one is actually a two-in-a-row weekend. This is the first one and tomorrow I am in Harrisburg, PA.
seradopa: Oh wow, that’s a drastic change!
seradopa: Well since the tour is reaching its end, what would you say was the difference between this tour and the Electromag tour at the beginning of the year?
No Mana: The biggest one, was touring with another person. Eddie was basically my roommate during that whole tour. [Laughs] Same with Secret Level, we had a lot of supporting acts and most of them were friends and people that I knew. And a lot of the time, when I’m on tour I would go out to eat with them and do some random shit in the city. Here I am just doing my solo thing and there is nothing wrong with that. But there is definitely a different vibe.
seradopa: Is it mainly on a bus or flying a lot for this tour?
No Mana: Flying! Which is less taxing than being on a bus.
seradopa: That’s true! It might be semi-lonely but you also get to be in your own headspace.
No Mana: Oh yeah, I’m introverted so that’s something I appreciate!
seradopa: From what I noticed, with these three singles you have released with Monstercat, there seems to be an overarching theme. What was the inspiration for this newer journey with this 8-bit intergalactic sound?
No Mana: Well I randomly drew inspiration from a childhood memory of these black notebooks and when you write on them rainbows come out. Have you ever seen those?
seradopa: I think so, that sounds familiar!
No Mana: Maybe it’s a layer of black and you carve the black out. And underneath the black, there is this rainbow canvas and when you draw with a pencil you make this rainbow art.
seradopa: Okay that does sound like something I remember. What is that called?
No Mana: [Laughs] I think they still make them for one of those kid’s notebooks. But for whatever reason, I am just attracted to that visually and wanted to incorporate that into my pixel art. It is mainly nostalgia for me. The black canvas is one of them and another over the past three releases, it was more reflecting on what I used to listen to as a kid. Like the CDs and mixes my grandpa would make me; he would also DJ and he listened to a lot of electronic music. He was the one that actually got me into electronic music, like Techno back then and Darude-Sandstorm when it came out. Just like old dance classics, I was a really big fan of that and I wanted to make music like that!
seradopa: That actually leads me to my next question! After hearing all three of these new singles from you, I got this sense of nostalgia and feeling like a kid again riding around in a rocket ship. And I was curious did you pull those nostalgic feelings from heartwarming emotions or were some more melancholy of your own?
No Mana: Most of them were heartwarming. And most of my emotions as a kid, when I listen to the music I was like, “this is cool,” and that’s all I thought about! It wasn’t like, I listen to this music and it makes me sad or euphoric. It was more like, “this is sick!” But now that I am looking back at it, it’s more of a feeling of that, nostalgia, and almost longing for experiencing that kind of memory again. It’s like a weird thought to think that “oh woah, I won’t ever be 7 again in my grandfather’s basement listening to Techno.” [Laughs]
seradopa: Since this newer direction is focusing on nostalgia, do you showcase that with your visuals and artwork? And is there a story you are trying to show?
No Mana: I think visually I just make whatever is cool to me. I wouldn’t say that there is too much of a story other than how I got into pixel art. Which is longer than how long I have been making music. I just take inspiration from obviously older Nintendo games but not old-old like in the 90s but a bit newer with a bit more resolution. I draw inspiration from that and there are a lot of other people who just pixel art and are really good at it. So I also draw inspiration from them as well!
seradopa: Yeah! As a graphic designer myself, I tried to learn and I definitely can’t do it. It’s so time-consuming and tedious, but once you achieve it just right it can look really cool! Especially since you do it for your own visuals and saw it took a couple of hours and some take a couple of days!
No Mana: Very time-consuming! [Laughs] I believe a normal social media asset if I were to make a quick little 10-second animation, would take 30 minutes to 2 hours. But something as extensive as a music video could take 2 weeks to 4 months.
No Mana: It’s a mess. It is one of those things that it’s daunting at first but the more you do it, the better you get at it.
seradopa: Did you torrent Photoshop back then?
No Mana: Back then, actually when I used to do pixel art, it was more like MS Paint. I would just f*ck with MS Paint after school. And I would work with really small image files which are how you get the whole pixel art aesthetic. That was like when I first got into it. Now I use this program called Aseprite which is nothing fancy but it’s like 15 bucks for a simple little program. It is really lite and easy to use!
seradopa: I got to look it up now! Been wanting to dive into other than just using an action that’s on Photoshop.
No Mana: Yeah you got to look it up!
seradopa: This is a good one! What is your favorite space or the infinite? And if you can fit it into one thing since the overarching theme of these singles is space.
No Mana: Oh gosh where do I start with this? I mean I can go into detail. In terms of the infinite, there are a lot of fascinating things when you talk about the scale of things and properties of reality kind of shift and aren’t the same. Like something in the quantum realm wouldn’t be the same in an astrophysical way. And that’s pretty cool and I think, “what if we could go larger in our currently known universe?” I believe there is something out there that defines almost metaphysical properties like the law of attraction or other things that we can’t really explain.
This can go on. And it can go on tangents [Laughs]
seradopa: That’s why I love this question!
No Mana: I have had 3-hour arguments with friends sitting in the hot tub talking about how the universe was started.
seradopa: Oh wow you start from day one!
No Mana: Yeah start from day one! The thing I have been trying to wrap my head around lately is the idea that we exist because reality is a paradox. And what I mean by that, is “nothing” can’t exist. There is no such thing as “nothing.” So with that being said, because there can’t be “nothing” there has to be something, so we are here cause of that logical concept. [Laughs] So that’s my favorite thing now!
seradopa: Honestly very accurate when you put it that way! [Laughs] We didn’t come from “nothing,” we did come from something. Whatever that may be.
seradopa: Since you did these 3 singles with Monstercat, how did you reach out to them about these releases?
No Mana: I started listening to Monstercat 10 years ago. Before I started making music, I was in college doing Computer Science and while I was doing homework, I would listen to Going Quantum. And that’s how I found most of my favorite artists. So it’s one of those things, it’s been a long time coming and I have always been a fan of the label. They have been around for so long and have seen labels come and go but Monstercat is one of the few that are going really strong.
The thing working with this label, I was a little more careful with these releases. Just because I like the label so much and I don’t want to disappoint them. I set that expectation for myself to keep the amount of unreleased music available. I want to keep working for them and sending them music.
seradopa: Well you didn’t disappoint, I truly love all three of the singles!
No Mana: Thank you!
seradopa: Last question! What are you most proud of in 2022?
No Mana: Personally I learned how to cook. I think I’m a great cook and I’m very proud of my cooking. I don’t know. This year I took care of myself a lot more especially when it comes to health, like staying active and trying to eat right. And it has made me happier in ways that I have never felt before. So that’s something I’m proud of. In terms of music and art in general, it’s hard to say. Progress is always a steady incline and there’s not really something I am proud of the most. It’s always a good time to make music and work with labels. Trying to do new stuff whenever.
seradopa: Definitely understand that! It’s hard to pinpoint that as an artist. Until you hit a couple of milestones but that might not count cause you still want to learn and are growing as an artist.
No Mana: The learning aspect is huge too. And I noticed that if I’m not learning, I get bored easily. So there have been times when I have been losing interest because I wasn’t learning anything. But I guess that’s time to buy some new toys in the studio to spice things up and buy some synths [Laughs].
seradopa: Personally should do that for myself honestly!
No Mana: I always get asked how I get out of writer’s block and I think I will answer that next time!
No Mana took Denver on a nostalgic journey and you can take a look at our Photo Gallery Below!
After taking an interstellar journey with No Mana in Denver go check out his latest single “Space” below!
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