Lucky for underground DJs seeking a varied playlist, Chris Manik’s music can’t be too easily categorized. As evidenced by his “McLovin’ You” EP (Culprit) or his 17-track debut, Armies of the Night: I Declare War (Ovum), he doesn’t step to one beat, yet he’s adept at plenty.
MANIK (as he’s professionally known) can get West-Coast groovy, Detroit techy or New York bangin’—even a bit humorous and arty. No matter what time it is, MANIK’s got a hot tune for the occasion.
And, after you’ve absorbed funky techno gems like “Sex Panther,” he throws a changeup. For example, how often do you get a quasi-concept, tech-house album? According to MANIK, he created Armies of the Night as his own soundtrack for the 1979 cult film, “The Warriors.” What’s up with that? We caught up with the 26-year-old Astoria, Queens-based DJ/producer to find out what makes him come out and play.
Your Ovum album incorporates a lot of different styles. What music most influenced you? I grew up on hip-hop- and R&B-flavored music—stuff with funk and emotions, real music and songs. I take inspiration from lots of things—my environment, people, music I listen to, art I look at. This is why my album has such a varied flavor to it. I wanted to tell a story of my city, NYC, as well as incorporating flavors from my favorite story/film, “The Warriors.”
What’s in your studio? I run Logic as my main DAW. I’ve used it for five years, and it’s amazing. I have a fair ratio between software to hardware gear. Love my [Roland] Juno 106 and [Sequential Circuits] Pro One. Another clutch synth I use is a [Yamaha] DX-7—great for the ’80s vibe and gives me that punchy bass when I want exactly that. Another thing is, if you use software the right way and really showcase a particular soft synth’s potentials, they can sound great. I also have various audio samples I have built up over the years to my “private library.”
Using a dark-and-groovy tune like “She’s Slow Motion” as an example, how do you put tracks together? I just sat down and started a groove, then began to freehand various basslines from my DX-7. Within a few hours, I had a good base for that song. As with all of my music, I wrote that song in Logic. I think I may have come back to the project a week or so later for one more session and it was basically done. Sometimes, you really feel the project you are working on and things just roll, so it gets done quicker than you expect. That happened on “She’s Slow Motion.”