Interview with… MARTIN DENEV MANGA MD Dare to dream...

Martin Denev

PopsFanzine: Who is Manga MD & Martin Deneve? Tell us something about your story.
Martin Denev : I’m a musician, piano and keyboard player and a music producer. I live in Bali, Indonesia almost seven years. I’m a music director and coordinator at Ayana and Rimba, with the iconic Rock Bar, one of the most spectacular places on the island. I’m also one of the resident DJ’s at KuDeTa, another legendary place, emblematic for Bali. I’m also a partner in a company, called MusicGuruz – we provide music concepts for establishments and chains worldwide. Manga MD is one of my projects, more organic, live band. I have also another one, called Manga Electrica, which is more electronic.

PF: How do you like define your kind of music and style?
MD: We play everything from Nu Soul, Funk, Electronica, sometimes gets rocky, sometimes more jazzy, or trippy and psychedelyc. I’m fortunate to have universal musicians around me who can do it all and go on a different journey. To sum it up, I call it Future Boogie, whatever that means. In my DJ sets I’m very eclectic, anything goes, depending on the place and the moment.

PF: Who are your most important references and music influences?
MD: I’m very familiar with the greatest piano masters, so I can say I’m coming from a long line of piano players which influenced me along the way. In Berklee, Boston, I studied with Ray Santisi, who had students like Keith Jarrett and Diana Krall. But my major influence always has been Herbie Hancock. I like the new generation jazz piano players like Robert Glasper or Cory Henry. Being a DJ on the other hand, exposes me to tons of music on a daily basis, it’s part of the job which I love. All kinds of styles. I eat and drink and breath music, every single day.

PF: You’re from Bulgaria, aren’t you? But you have a lot of influences in your music. How a man who studied classical music in the East countries, jazz in USA and loves the electronic international music, discovers the warm latin sounds and he introduces it in his music?
MD: I discovered Latin music in The Carribbean, I lived in Aruba in the mid ’90. I didn’t play it at that time, but the genie was out of the bottle, I was hooked. Later in the Rotterdam’s Conservatory in The Netherlands, where I was studying jazz, I started getting lessons in Latin piano – they have probably the best Latin Department in the world. It’s a very challenging and demanding, even physically, style for a piano player. It’s complicated, with set of rules which have been mastered for many years and you have to go deeper, if you want to do it right. But once everyone in the band does his part the best way and all those rhythm patterns interwine and lock in, it feels like you’re a part of a big well greased machine, a train that is unstoppable and can go forever. Then I had the opportunity to go to Santiago de Cuba and get the taste of it. Later back in Holland I joined a 10 piece Latin Band, we had that amazing summer in South of France, playing and doing even a few festivals. I have a Latin Project in Bali, called Martinez L’Amour Y sus Amigos Importantes. Latin isn’t only about the music, it’s a way of life. In Cuba playing is part of the daily routine, like you have lunch every day. When they party, everyone is there – from 2 year to 90 years old. You go through time swaying hips, it’s beautiful.

PF: Now are you living in Bali! A very spiritual place with very interesting sounds. Are you discovering new ways to play in your music maybe?
MD: Bali is very provoking, unpredictable, constantly changing and evolving place with all kinds of people from everywhere. Like many worlds coexist in a parallel way. I never expected I’ll be learning and discovering so much in that period of my life. It’s a journey of selfdiscovery too and I have plenty of time to think, especially in my DJ sets, looking at the Sunset. I guess that projects on my music and way of playing, it’s inevitable. Making music together with the local musicians and purely socializing helps too. It’s a constant process, but Bali is one of those places that can push you further.

PF: You’re a solo artist, but do you play with a band in your shows?
MD: Yes, I have different formations. Manga MD is with drums, bass, vox and sometimes guitar, with me on synths. Manga Electrika is a smaller outfit, with vox and a horn or percussion and I use DJ set up, beats, loops, drum machines and keys and synths of course, my favorite toys.

PF: Our readers they are avid to discover different sounds to impact them. Why do you think you’ll be able to hit it where other artists (even famous) have failed?
MD: Actually I wouldn’t say I’m even trying to “hit it”, it’s not about that for me. It’s about sharing, passing the ball forth and back, taking you on a trip, trying to find the less obvious, unbeaten path, go off road now and then. It’s about comminication and music is one of those rare languages that everyone understands. In the same time it’s very intimate and personal.

PF: Most of your music is an instrumental work. But do you collaborate with a several kind of singers from all around the world?
MD: It’s half-half. I have a soft spot for the human voice, it touches me in a very unique way. It’s the best instrument there is for me. I have been lucky to play and record with amazing singers – Colonel Red, Sharlene Hector, Heidi Vogel, Tawiah, Ntjamrosie, Vanessa Freeman, to name a few. For my next album I’d like to have local, Bali based artists, the scene here progressed immensely the last few years. I love purely instrumental music too, it’s somewhat more anonymous and abstract in a way and I love the indirectness of it. Again, these definitions are strictly individual.

PF: I’m sure there’s a lot of potential young-artists reading us now that they would love to feel inspired by your work and personality. Can you say them some words?
MD: First, dare to dream, anything is possible. Do your thing and try to be better and better in whatever you do. Always ask yourself is that the best I’m capable of. And run away from comfort with pushing your limits.

PF: What other things are really important in your life — apart from music — that help keep you motivated?
MD: I have a four year old boy, he’s the most important thing in my life. Traveling is the other important one, moving is the key in my view. Traveling together with my son is the best thing that can happen. Luckily he got the travel bug too, so we go and see places and people.

PF: Are you preparing a next tour? Where?
MD: Now I’m focusing on my new álbum and try to find as much studio time as posible. I’m going to Europe in August and October and to Australia in December.

PF: If our readers they want to buy your music, where they can do it?
MD: On all the major music platforms – iTunes, Traxsource, Juno Download, Beatport. Phisycal copies – CD and vinyl, they can get at Discogs, Kudos, Amazon, the usual.

PF: Thanks. It was really great to talk with you. Good luck and success!
MD: Thank you very much! Good luck to you and all your readers!

Manga MD
Martin Denev Manga MD

Future Boogie, Jazztronica

Label: Independent artist
Social: FacebookTwitter

Band Members

  • Martin Denev – Keyboards, Producer
  • Damaris Dior – Vox
  • Doddy Sambodo – Bass
  • Gustu Brahmanta – Drums


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