LIVE AND DIRECT WITH MANJA

We are pleased to launch a new series of feature called LIVE AND DIRECT which, similarly to Secret Bali Soundboys, will take a closer look at the leading lights on the Bali music scene but turning attention away from the CDJ's and more towards the microphones and guitars. There is a HUGE pool of live talent on this island and we felt it only fair that we bring these wonderful performers to everyones attention, and to kick things off we spoke to the family affair known as Manjâ!

Manjâ are made up of two brothers, Mark and Nick and a long-time friend of theirs, James, so to say they are a tight unit is an understatement and something that is evident in their music.

Despite the fact Manjâ are a relatively new outfit they have a lot of experience having worked in various other successful and popular projects including the longstanding island favourites The Mangrooves.

If you get the chance to catch them you should really make the effort as they never fail to disappoint and it was a real pleasure when they agreed to take 5 to answer some questions for us and give us an insight into what makes them tick musically.

HOW DID MANJA COME ABOUT AS A COLLECTIVE AND FOR THOSE NOT FAMILIAR WHO PLAYS WHAT AND WHERE ARE YOU ALL FROM? 

Basically, at the time of the start of Manjâ, we were just three average early 20’s dudes who didn’t have many friends, specifically musician friends. Nick (Guitar) and myself, Mark (Synth/Keyboard) were busy in the reggae fusion group, The Mangrooves, while James (Vocal/Guitar) was early in the Bali cafe circuit after studying in Australia, road-testing his stage skills. We met one night through a mutual grade school friend from back in the day who introduced us during his uni summer holidays, telling us to jam together. When our friend left back to Switzerland after the holidays, we had no contact with James until the holidays next year, at the same place, his house. Our friend was shocked we didn’t follow up with each other for a year, so then a few weeks later we got to jam at a cafe and things just flowed. With us also being raised similarly, coming from a mixed race background, James being Australian-Indonesian (Balinese) and Nick and I being Belgian-Indonesian (Sundanese), I think that really helped things mesh as well, in terms of dynamics.

IS THE BIRTH OF MANJA THE END FOR THE LEGENDARY MANGROOVES OR MORE OF A SIDE PROJECT?

Manjâ came around the last year before The Mangrooves went on a little hiatus, but Manjâ was more focused on writing music rather than performing. We didn’t know what sound we wanted so we were just sussing things out, preparing, so to speak. It was the side project of the three of us, eventually becoming our main project.

WHO WRITES THE MUSIC AND THE LYRICS FOR YOUR MUSIC OR IS IT A COLLECTIVE RESPONSIBILITY?

So far the majority of lyrics come from James and Nick but we are very diplomatic and decide on musical ideas as a collective.

IF YOU WERE ALL ON A TOUR BUS FOR A YEAR WHAT DO YOU THINK WOULD ANNOY YOU THE MOST ABOUT EACH OF YOUR BANDMATES? 

Deciding where to eat probably, we all love food. Mmmm… Food.

WHERE IS YOUR FAVOURITE VENUE TO PLAY AND WHY?

Any venue with a good sound system, nice staff, and one that really supports local, original music.

WHATS BEEN THE WORST NIGHTMARE YOU HAVE HAD ON STAGE?

Drunk tourist's beer bottles near our equipment, or a know-it-all sound man who thinks he can memorize all 32 channels on the mixing desk.

WHAT IS ONE OF YOUR FAVOURITE TRACKS TO COVER? 

FKJ ft. Tom Misch - Losing My Way


John Mayer - I Don't Trust Myself (With Loving You)


WHO WOULD BE YOUR DREAM ACT TO OPEN UP FOR?

In no order: Tom MischTame ImpalaJohn MayerAlt-J, just a few off the top of our heads. 

IF YOU WERE ALL SUPER HEROES WHO WOULD YOU BE AND WHY?

James: Batman, Mark: Whatever superhero that can teleport so I'm never late, Nick: Barnacle Boy

WHAT ARE THE MAIN DIFFERENCES BETWEEN BEING A BAND BASED IN BALI AND BEING BASED IN JAKARTA?

Jakarta has the big industries and industry creatives, but it has the traffic. Bali is an international tourist destination with an almost unknown artistic/music scene to the rest of the world, so it’s a melting pot with huge potential of what collaborations could go down. Oh, and there’s the beach. And the mountains. And the culture. So the sources of inspiration are endless. What’s important is to preserve, and contribute to it, not just take away from it.



WHERE CAN PEOPLE CATCH YOU GUYS PLAYING IN THE NEAR FUTURE? 

We have a chill acoustic weekly jam session on Thursdays, 8-11PM at Rumah Sanur, where we host the night and jam with whoever comes. It’s sprung up a nice little community that we hope will get bigger, any style of music is welcome and you never know who will show up, we've had some of the Navicula members, Superman Is DeadAdra KarimAsteriskaNosstress. You can also catch us  at Makerfest (4th November), El Kabron (9th November), COMO Canggu (10th November), and opening for Prep at Hard Rock Cafe Bali (16th November).

DO YOU HAVE A MUSIC VIDEO OF YOUR MUSIC WE CAN SHARE WITH OUR FOLLOWERS?

Not yet but you can find us on instagram! @wearemanja. Stay tuned for our music video, you can be a part of it! The single release will be in the first quarter of 2019.

WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE INDONESIAN ACT?

Efek Rumah Kaca - December


Navicula - Busur Hujan (Rainbow Warrior)


Thank you so much for taking time to answer this mini interview, Nick, James and Mark! We hope to see you perform soon!