It’s a day of many firsts today at the Allentown Fair. It’s their first electronic music act they’ve ever had, and it’s one of the best in the business, deadmau5. It’s also the first time his opener, No Mana, has ever performed in front of a crowd. Interestingly enough, this isn’t the first time a relatively unknown band has opened up at the fair. Back in 2002, Jimmy Eat World was headlining and Coheed and Cambria and The Juliana Theory were set to open. Shortly before the show, Coheed and Cambria, then enjoying rising success in the indie scene, dropped out of the show, leaving the fair organizers scrambling. They settled on My Chemical Romance, then an unknown Jersey garage band. Word has it they used footage from that show to get a record deal, but that’s unsubstantiated. Either way, that was their first time playing in front of a large crowd, and they went on to huge success. Will No Mana follow the same route? The LA-based artist gave us an interview yesterday detailing his past, his influences, and how it feels to play his first show opening for one of his biggest influences.
(This interview has been lightly edited)
After doing some research, I had to ask: Is this your first live show? How does it feel to be opening up for such a huge name?
“Yeah, this is the first time behind the desk and in front of any sort of crowd. It’s kinda trippy ‘cause I thought I’d have experience playing at smaller settings like house parties or bars… That being said, I don’t know what to expect – what the crowd is like, what the music is like in that area, let alone the fact that this [concert] is the fair’s first time featuring an electronic music act. I don’t know what to feel. It’ll hit me when I’m on stage.”
Who are your biggest influences, musical or otherwise?
“Haha, besides deadmau5 (who has to be the biggest, but not the majority of my influence), Eric Prydz, Above & Beyond, Joe Harston, Wolfgang Gartner, Justice, Proxy, The Bloody Beetroots, Phonat, Xilent, and all the super cool 2010-era electro stuff that sits on SoundCloud and never made it to the surface. Otherwise I listen to stuff on the other side of the spectrum to refresh myself [like] The Fall of Troy, The Mars Volta, Amon Tobin, DIVERSA, and Cashmere Cat. Other influences and inspirations? The universe, life, gravity, the way things work, 42, coffee, and people like Skrillex or DJ Qbert – not just their music, but also I just feel like they kind of “get it”. Everything I’ve experienced and observed influences me – in some value, no matter how small or big – to do what I do.
You just started releasing under ‘No Mana’ about a year ago. In that short time you’ve been noticed by some of the biggest names in the electronic music industry and have releases under mau5trap, a record label founded by the Allentown Fair headliner deadmau5 and part of Capitol Records, a subsidiary of Universal Music. That’ a huge accomplishment in such a short amount of time. How did the maus5trap deal come along, and how did you react?
Well, my super-awsome manager, Dillon, knew the mau5trap label manager. I guess [he] showed him my music and decided they can work with a lot of it. Me and Dillon were making our road trip to Vegas when we saw the contract for the first time. He pulled up the email on his phone, along with the contract, as it had the mau5trap logo and stuff displayed on the header. “Dude… mau5trap…” was the phrase of the night, as it was repeated amongst ourselves every thirty minutes.
Someone on Twitter a while back theorized that you were some sort of secret deadmau5 side project due to your sound. What was your reaction to being compared to someone so influential and successful?
It was a compliment, of course. That was step one – admiring a particular sound and [work towards being] compared to it. Step two is getting out of that association before I ‘black hole’ into becoming just another clone of someone else.
Have you worked on any other music under a different name before starting to release music under the ‘No Mana’ moniker?
Yes, I have, and there’s a lot that I’ve learned from having that moniker. I used a service for my old SoundCloud that was pretty much like a ‘comment for a comment,’ which was really good for feedback and critique, because the comments were from real people who are also doing ‘comments for comments.’ The [result] was that there [were] over 3,000 comments on my SoundCloud, which I thought would look sus as hell down the road when trying to look professional. I also got tired of the image and the old production quality that was sitting on this particular… profile. I figured with all these reasons piling up, it was time to build a new name.
What did you do prior to jumping into the music scene, since this is your first show?
Last year I was washing dishes, bussing tables, and attending school. I left all [of] that to give this music my all.
I saw you have a few shows coming up after the fair?
Yeah! There’s EDC Orlando and Monster Mash. That should be fun.
Can you tell us the story behind your name?
To Polynesian culture, ‘mana’ is the spirit or supernatural things, like power and effectiveness. To games, it’s the shit that allows you to cast a fireball. To me, it’s a name that I can hold onto for creative purposes. To my listeners, it’s whatever you want it to be.
Thanks for your time, and best of luck on your set at the fair.
Thank you! <3
Tickets for the show are still available at Ticketmaster.