Manila Killa talks going back to his dance music roots, growing with

They say good things take time and with Manila Killa‘s first-ever album, that was certainly the case.

A product of over two years’ worth of hard work and self-reflection, Dusk is the Filipino-American producer’s debut record since he first emerged onto the electronic music scene almost a decade ago. The album takes listeners through a sonic journey of his creative growth, ending at the apex of the sound he’s been crafting since the very beginning.

,Dusk is an album about self-reflection and growing into a more confident version of yourself. It’s about understanding that change is inevitable and learning about what serves you best through those changes,” he tells Bandwagon.

Ahead of his upcoming North American tour, bandwagon caught up with the talented producer and DJ to talk about his musical journey, learning to be patient, and the story within his first album, Dusk,

Hi Manila Killa! How has life been treating you lately?

Hey! Life’s been pretty hectic and busy because of the album release and preparations for my upcoming North American tour have begun, but I seriously can’t complain. It’s been great so far.

Who are some artists you’ve been listening to right now?

I’ve been really into these artists who have recently dropped albums or new songs – Odesza, Fred Again.., Swedish House Mafia, Rufus Du Sol, and Dom Dolla to name a few. As you can probably tell, I’ve been on a house music kick as of late.

Congratulations on the release of your first album, Dusk, Walk us through the vision you have for the record. What story does it tell?

Dusk is an album about self-reflection and growing into a more confident version of yourself. We’ve all had a pretty rough last two years, and I spent a lot of that time trying to figure out what I want in life and what direction of music I wanted to explore further. And that reflects in the album—it’s about understanding that change is inevitable and learning about what serves you best through those changes.

In my case, I wanted to showcase a new style of sound that’s reflective of my early influences in dance music, which is built around the sound of house and fusing that with a sense of heavy emotional topics like heartbreak, catharsis and self-love that can be found in my older work.

This was a project that has been in the works for over two years, what was the creative process like working on the album?

The creative process was not linear. It took many months of trial and error, and hundreds of unused demos to shape the sound that can be heard throughout the album now. I knew I wanted to make a more dance-driven body of work, but it took a lot of time for me to gain a sense of confidence in knowing that everything would sound cohesive. I took a lot of inspiration from music that I’ve always loved, from artists like Daft Punk and Andrew Beyer to Justice and Rufus Du Sol.

I also made it a point that I wanted to collaborate with a lot of artists that I personally resonated with – I had a chance to work with Lightsan artist I’ve been listening to for over a decade now, Panama – a voice I’ve always loved and heard in some of my favorite records throughout the years, and EVA GIIA – a superstar in the making who possesses an incredible voice. What was most important to me is that every song served a purpose throughout the album.

What were some of the things you realized or learned while working on your first album, be it musically or personally?

Patience is key. I didn’t realize how long it would take to craft a full-length album, and I realized that sometimes being patient and not getting frustrated by a song not working is more important than forcing it.

This was also my first time working with so many artists at once and I realized that finding peace in myself outside of music is as important as being invested in it, so I also found a new love in working on throwing pottery – it’s a creative pursuit that gave me fulfillment outside of music. Taking breaks is also such an important part of the process because it gives me a chance to digest and reflect on the work I’ve just finished.

Since your SoundCloud days, you’ve grown immensely and now have an audience that spans the entire world. What has the entire experience been like?

The best thing about growing an international fan base is to see how so many different people resonate with my music. My entire goal in music is to touch people’s lives the same way I have been touched by my favorite artists’ music, so to see that actually happen gives me the idea that I am successful on my own terms.

It isn’t about being a famous artist to me, it’s about sharing something dear to me in hopes that someone else can understand the feeling I was going for. A big reason why I make dance music in the first place is so that I can showcase it in a live setting and connect with people face to face – something I’ve had the privilege of doing and I hope to continue in the future.

How do you feel you’ve evolved and grown as an artist since the beginning of your musical journey? In what ways do we hear that growth in your music?

I feel like in the beginning of my musical journey, it was just for fun and a lot of it was just spent messing around and learning how to actually make music. But now that I’m almost a decade into my career, I realized that I wanted to be more considerate and thoughtful in the style of music that I present.

The growth you can hear is through the changing of genres that I’ve experimented with in the past. For this album, I feel so strongly about the sound that I’ve crafted that I think it truly is the most honest representation of who I am as an artist. I’ve reached back to my roots as an influence on the album and provided a fresh palette of sounds that resonates with my modern-day tastes.

What have been some of your most memorable moments so far?

There are so many that it’s difficult to choose from, but a big memorable moment of mine was being given the opportunity to tour places outside of the USA – especially in Asia. I remember pulling up to a show in Bangkok and seeing that someone had found a baby photo of me and printed it on a shirt. I was in absolute disbelief that I had fans that supported me this hard in the USA and made me feel like I’ve achieved my goal of having people appreciate my music outside of my immediate friend circle.

Another great memory for me was during that tour, I played a show in Manila, where my dad still lives. It was the first time he had ever experienced a show of mine, and I feel like that was the moment he really understood why I pursued a career in music.

What would you say is your greatest strength as a producer?

My greatest strength as a producer is my ability to put myself in the listener’s ears. I’m a music fan first and foremost so I think having that awareness and understanding of what people enjoy in music is really important when it comes to creating it. I think it’s important to have a balance of an artist’s own tastes while being understanding of how someone would react to their music.

What can we expect from you for the rest of 2022?

The grind doesn’t stop, even though I’ve just released the album. I’m preparing for a North American tour, working on more music and beginning to think about what will come next in my exploration of this new house-music-driven style.

Listen to Manila Killa’s Dusk here.


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