Scandanavia, Daft Punk, and Funky Grooves: My Interview with Manganas Garden


By: Harrison Giza

The radio is filled with music that wants to be funky. Sometimes we Get Lucky and something good comes on. This isn’t the case usually, seeing that 1/10th of the radio truly spits out good, hard funk tracks. I found Manganas Garden after sprawling for irresistible grooves on the internet. As I usually do, I was drinking coffee, and at the first sip found myself clicking a link to the group’s Soundcloud.

And with that, I was instantly trapped within the funky groove of “In The Mood.” I was solidified in the solid simpleness the band sprang out of their instruments. I wanted to dance and dance and dance until I was incapable of breath and french vanilla bean. All I want in the world is for American radio to be Scandinavian funk jams.

One of their songs, “Electricity,” is disco turned to the fourth degree. It’s bopping like Rick James on cocaine withdrawal, mixing Random Access melodies and the band’s own brew of Scandinavian funk.

I got to talk to the band’s guitarist, Axel Agerv, and learned enough about the band to realize they have early Beatles coolness. From tips for blues-licks to the possibility of disco in human DNA, Agerv had a lot of great things to say. To me, the man’s words are just as trademarked as the sweet picking he performs on “Sally.”

So with that… enjoy.


HG: What guitarists have influenced your sound? Who made you want to pick up your guitars?

AA: The first guitarist to really inspire me (axel) to pick a guitar up and start playing was Angus Young. The way he manages to play simple blues-licks and still make them his own is what always amazes me. It’s something you can’t learn, but something you just have, so that means you don’t have to have the best gear and learn the hardest licks, you just have to put all your feelings into each note. Even though you don’t play the same style of music, I find it easy to be inspired by certain guitarists just because of their way of expressing themselves through the guitar. One such guitarist is Brian May of Queen.

HG: Where do you see your band going in the future? Where will you be in a year?

AA: In one year we hope to be playing more often, and on bigger venues. It would be great to keep ourselves alive and floating just by playing, so we wouldn’t have to work all the time. That really steals a lot of time away from writing and rehearsing songs. Hopefully it won’t take too long for us to elevate to that level.

HG: Daft is a big influence on you guys. What’d you think of the new album?

AA: Daft Punk’s latest album was a step in the right direction for popular mainstream music. I was really happy to hear that someone else made the same kind of music that I always listened to growing up. It also meant that this is a great time for us to be an upcoming band, since it’s similar to our music.

HG: In one word.. describe your song “In the Mood.”

AA: One word to describe our song “In The Mood” would be “impulsive”, because it takes interesting turns in the structure of the song as it goes. Jumps from here to there and takes you on a dance-inspiring journey.

HG: Tell me about your perfect breakfast morning. What are you feasting on?

AA: Lots of vitamins for breakfast. We actually discuss this matter from time to time. You don’t want meat for breakfast, since it will slow you down. A great example is oatmeal with bananas and nuts. Maybe raisins and some milk. A smoothie with kiwi, apple, banana, blueberries and milk is great. Add a pizza to this if you are hung over.

HG: Who are your biggest influences?

AA: Quincy Jones is a big influence on us. The R&B stuff he produced in the 80’s like “The Dude” and of course “Thriller” are really great. You can really hear how well he knew what he wanted to do. He was always very precise and made each detail crucial to the song. He really raised the bar for producing R&B. Along with songwriters like Rod Temperton, he created magic. There’s nothing like a well produced, well written 80’s R&B song to me. It really sounds magical. A song like “Ain’t nothing missing” by Jeffrey Osborne (produced by George Duke) really gives me a special feeling. It makes you want to dance for hours and hours and still makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside. That’s what I want to put in our songs.

HG: Tell me about your latest album. How did you reach that final product?

AA: This last EP we made was the result of our start-up year. Some of the songs were quite new, while some of them were the first ones we ever wrote together. All the way through production we learned new things, and found out ourselves who we were and wanted to be as a band, so it’s not a fully matured EP. There is a lot we can do with our sound and we are very excited to improve certain qualities.

HG: How do you know when you want to keep something in your music? What tells you which parts to keep?

AA: Knowing what things you want to keep in your music is easy. It gets easier to analyse your own music, if you grew up analysing the music you listened to. Even though I never thought about it that way, I always analysed everything i heard. Knowing that I liked a Toto song wasn’t enough. I automatically started questioning the components of the song. What makes you feel that cozy feeling? What makes the guitar sound like that? Why does this make me want to dance? Why is this song better than that song? If you like asking these sort of questions to yourself, you will eventually learn a lot about writing songs. This will make you know exactly what you like, and why you like it. This skill will make it very easy for you to know what to keep in your music. You wouldn’t put something you did not like in one of your songs. Sometimes you come up with a song that is partly amazing, and partly pretty bad, and the best thing to do in that situation is to toss it. Since you wrote it yourself, you will still have the good parts inside of you, and they will come out eventually. That is a huge struggle when writing songs – knowing when to let something go, and rely on it to come back in the right time.

HG: Will disco ever come back? I can definitely see Manganas Garden starting the disco revolution.

AA: Disco is in our DNA, and it will definitely make a come back in the near future. With so much cheap music getting so much attention, a revolution in quality in inevitable. Daft Punk already helped starting it. Speaking for myself and a lot of my friends, disco music and R&B makes your body move, and will not leave you untouched. There is something about a funky beat that speaks to the inner animal in us. There is no house-dj in the world that will make your limbs grow to life like the funk will.

 HG: How does one feel the funky groove? What DOES it feel like?

AA: The funky groove will appear inside you when you really loosen up and let the music move you. If you stop thinking about the people watching you, and let yourself move completely freely to the beat. The problem with feeling the funky groove is that not every song in every party playlist will speak to you, so you usually loose the feeling in-between songs. Our goal is to maintain the feeling throughout all of our gigs. This is something that we want our crowd to feel. We want to share our special feeling with them. After we are done playing, we want the feeling to linger. The feeling exists inside all of us, and our music brings it out and into the open.

HG: Is love real?

AA: Love is definitely real. It’s very similar to the funky groove. Something to share with other people, and something to make you do and achieve new things.

HG: What’s next?

AA: Next for Manganas is working on new material for our next EP/album. This summer we will be playing and writing all the time. We’ll keep doing that until it’s time for us to record again. It’s what we enjoy doing, so as long as there is time to do it we are happy.

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