The Myele Manzanza Trio
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The Myele Manzanza Trio

Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand | INDIE

Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand | INDIE
Band Jazz Soul

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Jan
31
The Myele Manzanza Trio @ Rippon Festival

Wanaka, None, New Zealand

Wanaka, None, New Zealand

Jun
01
The Myele Manzanza Trio @ The Hi-Fi Bar

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

May
31
The Myele Manzanza Trio @ Blue Beat

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Music

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Myele Manzanza Trio


The CJC (Creative Jazz Club) is increasingly on the world Jazz circuit, but it also attracts a number of artists from around New Zealand. This outreach is exactly what Roger Manins, Caroline Manins and Ben McNicholl had envisaged when the collective began. The CJC’s prime purpose is to further Jazz and improvised music as an art form and to create an intimate performance space where projects can be realised. This space is suited to listening audiences, which in turn spurs the musicians on. The trio who performed on Wednesday appreciated that.

On Wednesday we heard the Wellington based Myele Manzanza trio. A drummer led band has a different feel to a piano led trio. When a drummer is leader the drums are generally more forward in the mix than is otherwise the case. This is the way of things and whether it’s Max Roach or Matt Wilson we expect to have the drums as a strong focus. Myele Manzanza is a captivating drummer and I was immediately struck by how different he is to most Auckland drummers. When I spoke to him later I went out on a limb by suggesting that his style was reminiscent of Manu Katche. He told me that he had not heard him, but that others had said the same.



According to Myele, Roger Manins suggested that they should push the boundaries. Rising to that challenge the band hastily composed a tune for the gig. The gig was a mix of standards, interesting takes on tunes not usually associated with jazz and a few originals. The originals were often subjected to an angular approach and with pared back melody. Their take on the Ellington tune ‘Caravan’ was probably the most conventional of their tunes but even then it was given individual treatment. The pianist approached the tune in a percussive manner, but with right hand runs that were definitely post bop (a little like Michel Petrucciani was fond of doing). Led by the drummer, time signatures morphed into various new patterns.

The Pianist Daniel Hayles often begins pieces with long ostinato intro’s and while not quite a minimalist, he never-the-less avoids excessive ornamentation. I really warmed to him as the evening progressed and I found his approach modern and fresh (and often North European). With Scott Maynard on bass the unit knitted together well. Because of the way the tunes unfolded it was essential that he made his presence felt and he did. In situations like this the bass often has to carry some extra weight.

Myele has spent time working in New York and he has studied under Jazz drummer E J Strickland. I also know that he is passionate about Jazz, but why his band sounds different is because other very modern influences have seeped into the mix. Myele Manzanza works with many ground breaking non-Jazz lineups and that is probably what he is best known for. This brings me back to Manu Katche who is a very modern jazz drummer, but one who works across a variety of genres (Peter Gabriel and Sting). Katche’s Jazz drumming is atypical and madly engaging. Jazz should never stand still and this window on yet another approach to our music tells me that the exploration continues.

I hope that the band returns again as they expand our horizons while making us smile. After thanking his band Myele Manzanza turned to the audience and said, “Thank you Auckland and the CJC. This is an unusual situation for us. An audience that listens appreciatively and doesn’t talk through the gig. This is what Wellington lacks”.

Every city needs a CJC …and lots of nights like this - jazzlocal32.com


Myele Manzanza Trio


The CJC (Creative Jazz Club) is increasingly on the world Jazz circuit, but it also attracts a number of artists from around New Zealand. This outreach is exactly what Roger Manins, Caroline Manins and Ben McNicholl had envisaged when the collective began. The CJC’s prime purpose is to further Jazz and improvised music as an art form and to create an intimate performance space where projects can be realised. This space is suited to listening audiences, which in turn spurs the musicians on. The trio who performed on Wednesday appreciated that.

On Wednesday we heard the Wellington based Myele Manzanza trio. A drummer led band has a different feel to a piano led trio. When a drummer is leader the drums are generally more forward in the mix than is otherwise the case. This is the way of things and whether it’s Max Roach or Matt Wilson we expect to have the drums as a strong focus. Myele Manzanza is a captivating drummer and I was immediately struck by how different he is to most Auckland drummers. When I spoke to him later I went out on a limb by suggesting that his style was reminiscent of Manu Katche. He told me that he had not heard him, but that others had said the same.



According to Myele, Roger Manins suggested that they should push the boundaries. Rising to that challenge the band hastily composed a tune for the gig. The gig was a mix of standards, interesting takes on tunes not usually associated with jazz and a few originals. The originals were often subjected to an angular approach and with pared back melody. Their take on the Ellington tune ‘Caravan’ was probably the most conventional of their tunes but even then it was given individual treatment. The pianist approached the tune in a percussive manner, but with right hand runs that were definitely post bop (a little like Michel Petrucciani was fond of doing). Led by the drummer, time signatures morphed into various new patterns.

The Pianist Daniel Hayles often begins pieces with long ostinato intro’s and while not quite a minimalist, he never-the-less avoids excessive ornamentation. I really warmed to him as the evening progressed and I found his approach modern and fresh (and often North European). With Scott Maynard on bass the unit knitted together well. Because of the way the tunes unfolded it was essential that he made his presence felt and he did. In situations like this the bass often has to carry some extra weight.

Myele has spent time working in New York and he has studied under Jazz drummer E J Strickland. I also know that he is passionate about Jazz, but why his band sounds different is because other very modern influences have seeped into the mix. Myele Manzanza works with many ground breaking non-Jazz lineups and that is probably what he is best known for. This brings me back to Manu Katche who is a very modern jazz drummer, but one who works across a variety of genres (Peter Gabriel and Sting). Katche’s Jazz drumming is atypical and madly engaging. Jazz should never stand still and this window on yet another approach to our music tells me that the exploration continues.

I hope that the band returns again as they expand our horizons while making us smile. After thanking his band Myele Manzanza turned to the audience and said, “Thank you Auckland and the CJC. This is an unusual situation for us. An audience that listens appreciatively and doesn’t talk through the gig. This is what Wellington lacks”.

Every city needs a CJC …and lots of nights like this - jazzlocal32.com


“Myele, hello. It’s half past nine and you’ve been drumming since before nine. And... we’ve said nothing about it for a very long time but it’s just driving us mad. The low frequency, the boom boom goes right through our house and right through our bodies, and it’s just unacceptable Myele, absolutely unacceptable. You have to make alternative arrangements... You’re a nice boy, we like you heaps but it’s just unacceptable.”
“Myele, it’s Jill from next door. It’s 11.25pm on Tuesday and I don’t honestly expect you to be drumming and keeping us awake.” (Phone hangs up.) NZM’s social issues reporter, Adam Burns, investigates these unusual and disturbing complaints about Wellington’s Myele Manzanza.

I suppose these real-life instances could easily be described as a young man drawing a line in the sand, baiting ignorance. A carefree musician who needs to show some bloody respect. As the sampled voicemail messages play out over the top of Drum Intro, the first track of Myele Manzanza’s solo debut album ‘One’, toiling against the 23 year old’s exploratory instincts and technical prowess behind the kit, you could perceive it as an hilarious jeer from the safety of the studio. A more likely notion would be to emphasise an undeniable hunger that the young Wellington musician has.

The wise beyond his years Manzanza has recently branched out on his own after he turned heads as the rhythmic powerhouse behind Wellington progressive-soul trio Electric Wire Hustle. Over the past four years he has also manned the stool for Olmecha Supreme, the Recloose live band, Sheba Williams and for his highly regarded father in Sam Manzanza’s Rhythm Africa Band. This was a period where Manzanza honed his craft and also moulded his talents to various stylistic approaches.
“I kind of wanted to be a chameleon and play all these different musical branches which I was doing, I was playing in several different bands. After that, I kind of realized, ‘Okay, I think it’s about time to start thinking about what is my own personal voice.’”

His album is the culmination of the past five years, growing as a person, musician and artist. Beginning at the NZ School of Music in 2006, Manzanza went on to graduate with a Degree in Jazz Performance in 2008.
It was here that Myele learnt more about the theory behind chords and harmony and began the transition from a predominantly rhythmic understanding of music to a wider all encompassing view.

Finding himself increasingly pigeon holed as 'Just another drummer' exploring the creation of music away from the drum kit was a way of uncovering his own voice as a producer and songwriter. He explains that it was very much about mastering the technical side at the time and that drumming will always be his “first language” and an important part of his musical identity.
“I was kind of coming at it from ‘the baddest drummer’. Like I wanted to be, I dunno, better than say, Questlove. I mean I still practice every day and try to grow as a drummer and as a player, but I never thought I would be producing my own records so to speak.”
“Growing up music and rhythm was all around me and I understood it from a very early age. Through my father I learnt the language of the drum probably at the same time as I learnt to talk! My dad was one of the first Africans to perform traditional African and High Life music live in NZ. He has been a tremendous influence and inspiration on my career as a musician.”

His role in the internationally-flourishing Electric Wire Hustle seemingly manifested further flowering of his drumming talents. Along with experimenting with various software, he had an integral role in the production side of things as the trio recorded their 2010 self-titled debut, facilitating a skill for beatmaking and laptop-based composition.
“I started getting into loop-based music and how that all comes together. I was getting an idea of it and messing round with it from time to time but I didn’t really take it super seriously. After a while I started to enjoy the process of making music that way. Because beforehand I didn’t really enjoy it, it didn’t seem that intuitive to me as a musician or as a drummer. Most of the time you’re playing live, it’s an instantaneous kind of thing.
After Electric Wire Hustle toured Europe in 2010, Manzanza made Berlin his home for four months and focused a lot of his energies onto his laptop, where the majority of his album was penned.
“I realized I didn't really know anyone and I didn’t have any people to play with so much, so my creative energy went into writing and producing a bunch of music on my computer and just getting into that. And the more I did it, the more it excited me.
“I knew what I wanted something to sound like, but I didn’t have the knowledge to get it all the way to that point. And I’m still not complete in that way, but you work on something and you get better at it and you develop your own way of doing things.”

2010 proved a h - New Zealand Musician Magazine


“Myele, hello. It’s half past nine and you’ve been drumming since before nine. And... we’ve said nothing about it for a very long time but it’s just driving us mad. The low frequency, the boom boom goes right through our house and right through our bodies, and it’s just unacceptable Myele, absolutely unacceptable. You have to make alternative arrangements... You’re a nice boy, we like you heaps but it’s just unacceptable.”
“Myele, it’s Jill from next door. It’s 11.25pm on Tuesday and I don’t honestly expect you to be drumming and keeping us awake.” (Phone hangs up.) NZM’s social issues reporter, Adam Burns, investigates these unusual and disturbing complaints about Wellington’s Myele Manzanza.

I suppose these real-life instances could easily be described as a young man drawing a line in the sand, baiting ignorance. A carefree musician who needs to show some bloody respect. As the sampled voicemail messages play out over the top of Drum Intro, the first track of Myele Manzanza’s solo debut album ‘One’, toiling against the 23 year old’s exploratory instincts and technical prowess behind the kit, you could perceive it as an hilarious jeer from the safety of the studio. A more likely notion would be to emphasise an undeniable hunger that the young Wellington musician has.

The wise beyond his years Manzanza has recently branched out on his own after he turned heads as the rhythmic powerhouse behind Wellington progressive-soul trio Electric Wire Hustle. Over the past four years he has also manned the stool for Olmecha Supreme, the Recloose live band, Sheba Williams and for his highly regarded father in Sam Manzanza’s Rhythm Africa Band. This was a period where Manzanza honed his craft and also moulded his talents to various stylistic approaches.
“I kind of wanted to be a chameleon and play all these different musical branches which I was doing, I was playing in several different bands. After that, I kind of realized, ‘Okay, I think it’s about time to start thinking about what is my own personal voice.’”

His album is the culmination of the past five years, growing as a person, musician and artist. Beginning at the NZ School of Music in 2006, Manzanza went on to graduate with a Degree in Jazz Performance in 2008.
It was here that Myele learnt more about the theory behind chords and harmony and began the transition from a predominantly rhythmic understanding of music to a wider all encompassing view.

Finding himself increasingly pigeon holed as 'Just another drummer' exploring the creation of music away from the drum kit was a way of uncovering his own voice as a producer and songwriter. He explains that it was very much about mastering the technical side at the time and that drumming will always be his “first language” and an important part of his musical identity.
“I was kind of coming at it from ‘the baddest drummer’. Like I wanted to be, I dunno, better than say, Questlove. I mean I still practice every day and try to grow as a drummer and as a player, but I never thought I would be producing my own records so to speak.”
“Growing up music and rhythm was all around me and I understood it from a very early age. Through my father I learnt the language of the drum probably at the same time as I learnt to talk! My dad was one of the first Africans to perform traditional African and High Life music live in NZ. He has been a tremendous influence and inspiration on my career as a musician.”

His role in the internationally-flourishing Electric Wire Hustle seemingly manifested further flowering of his drumming talents. Along with experimenting with various software, he had an integral role in the production side of things as the trio recorded their 2010 self-titled debut, facilitating a skill for beatmaking and laptop-based composition.
“I started getting into loop-based music and how that all comes together. I was getting an idea of it and messing round with it from time to time but I didn’t really take it super seriously. After a while I started to enjoy the process of making music that way. Because beforehand I didn’t really enjoy it, it didn’t seem that intuitive to me as a musician or as a drummer. Most of the time you’re playing live, it’s an instantaneous kind of thing.
After Electric Wire Hustle toured Europe in 2010, Manzanza made Berlin his home for four months and focused a lot of his energies onto his laptop, where the majority of his album was penned.
“I realized I didn't really know anyone and I didn’t have any people to play with so much, so my creative energy went into writing and producing a bunch of music on my computer and just getting into that. And the more I did it, the more it excited me.
“I knew what I wanted something to sound like, but I didn’t have the knowledge to get it all the way to that point. And I’m still not complete in that way, but you work on something and you get better at it and you develop your own way of doing things.”

2010 proved a h - New Zealand Musician Magazine


It was Vaughn Roberts who alerted me to Myele's existence around three years ago, a few months before auditions were due to be held at the (NZ School of Music) conservatorium. "This kid is a mother, grab him!" he told me. Needless to say he flew through at audition time, and has continued flying since day one. Myele has a great work ethic, and is totally fearless musically, a fact borne out by the number of musical colleagues he enjoys the company of (one of my personal favourites is the group with Jonathan Crayford). The future of drums in NZ is firmly in the 20 year old hands of Myele Manzanza, believe it!



Tell us a little about your background.
I've been playing the drum kit for about six and a half years, but my dad Sam Manzanza has had me playing percussion instruments like the djembe and congas since I can remember. I was never pushed into being a musician as a kid; I just grew up around it. Dad would take me out on some of his gigs and have me jump on stage messing around on percussion, so I guess I just naturally gravitated towards drums and performing music.

My first drum kit lessons were with Richie Wise in my fourth form year at Wellington High School, and then between fifth and seventh form Matt Swain from Odessa was the drum teacher there. He was great. He showed me all these Zigaboo Modeliste (The Meters' drummer) beats as well as the Alan Dawson rudiment ritual and some foundational jazz stuff amongst other things. Then I went straight to the NZSM Jazz School in Wellington and I'm currently doing my third year with Lance Phillip and you!

You seem to be out gigging pretty heavily. Tell us about some of the bands you're playing with.
Yeah I'm a bit of a drum slut. I've been playing with Olmecha Supreme, lead by the Captain Imon Starr (formerly of Rhombus) since I was 17. Hooking up with Imon was like my stepping-stone into the Welli/NZ music scene. From there I was asked by his sister Deva Mahal to sub for Darren Mathiassen on drums for one of her gigs at Hope Bros. And that gig had some of the baddest cats in town in the line up, like Mike Fabulous (The Black Seeds) on gat, Rio Hemopo (Trinity Roots) on bass, Lisa Tomlins doing backing vox, Joe Lindsay (Fat Freddys) on trombone, Chris and Dan Yeabsly (Twinset) playing keys and sax and Adan Tejerina on percussion. I'm like this 17 year old kid with a messy afro just buzzing out at getting to jam with these guys!

So playing with those cats got me 'in the door' and now I'm playing gigs with the Recloose live band, Electric Wire Hustle and Sheba Williams. I got to jam with The Vipers, Solaa and The Scribes Of Ra a couple of times. I'm about to go into the studio to record the new Hannah Howes' album. Did a really cool recording session with American producers King Britt and Nicodemus for the OE:USA project that Loop Recordings are putting together. Still playing with my dad's Rhythm Africa Band. Just heaps of gigs with various configurations of local musicians. Wellington is great for having such a sense of community and camaraderie amongst musicians, everybody playing and hanging with everybody else.

I'm also lucky enough to play with Jonathan Crayford who has gotta be one of THE best musicians in the country. I honestly feel like I've grown so much as a musician by playing with him. If you can follow where that guy goes with what he's playing he'll take you to some amazing places and you'll learn heaps! Same thing with Imon Starr too. Those two guys just seem to ooze great musical and philosophical ideas and have both been great teachers for me.

I think that playing with people stronger than you is the best way to grow. What do you think all those guys see in you?
That's a hard one. I guess I try to have some sort of professional attitude. I never, by any stretch of the imagination, claim to be the best drummer around but I'm definitely confident in my ability and I don't play timidly in any situation. I love to really go for it when I play.

How do you manage to find enough time in the day with all the uni demands? What's your feeling on the institutional education of music?
Well I ain't gonna lie, it's not an easy amount of work to tackle, and my social life has been severely diminished. But it's been like having two schools at once so I've learned heaps of valuable info from jazz school and being out there doing it in real situations. I'm rinsing myself out getting to do what I love doing.

In terms of music education I think that it's definitely not for everyone who wants to do music, and there are plenty of musicians who didn't do it or didn't do well in it who are amazing at what they do.

One of the best words of advice I ever got was from a friend of mine, guitarist Justin 'Firefly' Clarke. When I just started at NZSM he told me that, "As long as you - New Zealand Musician Magazine


It was Vaughn Roberts who alerted me to Myele's existence around three years ago, a few months before auditions were due to be held at the (NZ School of Music) conservatorium. "This kid is a mother, grab him!" he told me. Needless to say he flew through at audition time, and has continued flying since day one. Myele has a great work ethic, and is totally fearless musically, a fact borne out by the number of musical colleagues he enjoys the company of (one of my personal favourites is the group with Jonathan Crayford). The future of drums in NZ is firmly in the 20 year old hands of Myele Manzanza, believe it!



Tell us a little about your background.
I've been playing the drum kit for about six and a half years, but my dad Sam Manzanza has had me playing percussion instruments like the djembe and congas since I can remember. I was never pushed into being a musician as a kid; I just grew up around it. Dad would take me out on some of his gigs and have me jump on stage messing around on percussion, so I guess I just naturally gravitated towards drums and performing music.

My first drum kit lessons were with Richie Wise in my fourth form year at Wellington High School, and then between fifth and seventh form Matt Swain from Odessa was the drum teacher there. He was great. He showed me all these Zigaboo Modeliste (The Meters' drummer) beats as well as the Alan Dawson rudiment ritual and some foundational jazz stuff amongst other things. Then I went straight to the NZSM Jazz School in Wellington and I'm currently doing my third year with Lance Phillip and you!

You seem to be out gigging pretty heavily. Tell us about some of the bands you're playing with.
Yeah I'm a bit of a drum slut. I've been playing with Olmecha Supreme, lead by the Captain Imon Starr (formerly of Rhombus) since I was 17. Hooking up with Imon was like my stepping-stone into the Welli/NZ music scene. From there I was asked by his sister Deva Mahal to sub for Darren Mathiassen on drums for one of her gigs at Hope Bros. And that gig had some of the baddest cats in town in the line up, like Mike Fabulous (The Black Seeds) on gat, Rio Hemopo (Trinity Roots) on bass, Lisa Tomlins doing backing vox, Joe Lindsay (Fat Freddys) on trombone, Chris and Dan Yeabsly (Twinset) playing keys and sax and Adan Tejerina on percussion. I'm like this 17 year old kid with a messy afro just buzzing out at getting to jam with these guys!

So playing with those cats got me 'in the door' and now I'm playing gigs with the Recloose live band, Electric Wire Hustle and Sheba Williams. I got to jam with The Vipers, Solaa and The Scribes Of Ra a couple of times. I'm about to go into the studio to record the new Hannah Howes' album. Did a really cool recording session with American producers King Britt and Nicodemus for the OE:USA project that Loop Recordings are putting together. Still playing with my dad's Rhythm Africa Band. Just heaps of gigs with various configurations of local musicians. Wellington is great for having such a sense of community and camaraderie amongst musicians, everybody playing and hanging with everybody else.

I'm also lucky enough to play with Jonathan Crayford who has gotta be one of THE best musicians in the country. I honestly feel like I've grown so much as a musician by playing with him. If you can follow where that guy goes with what he's playing he'll take you to some amazing places and you'll learn heaps! Same thing with Imon Starr too. Those two guys just seem to ooze great musical and philosophical ideas and have both been great teachers for me.

I think that playing with people stronger than you is the best way to grow. What do you think all those guys see in you?
That's a hard one. I guess I try to have some sort of professional attitude. I never, by any stretch of the imagination, claim to be the best drummer around but I'm definitely confident in my ability and I don't play timidly in any situation. I love to really go for it when I play.

How do you manage to find enough time in the day with all the uni demands? What's your feeling on the institutional education of music?
Well I ain't gonna lie, it's not an easy amount of work to tackle, and my social life has been severely diminished. But it's been like having two schools at once so I've learned heaps of valuable info from jazz school and being out there doing it in real situations. I'm rinsing myself out getting to do what I love doing.

In terms of music education I think that it's definitely not for everyone who wants to do music, and there are plenty of musicians who didn't do it or didn't do well in it who are amazing at what they do.

One of the best words of advice I ever got was from a friend of mine, guitarist Justin 'Firefly' Clarke. When I just started at NZSM he told me that, "As long as you - New Zealand Musician Magazine


The debut solo album from Electric Wire Hustle drummer Myele Manzanza, One is a shimmering haze of intricate rhythms, swirling futurist synths, expansive woodwind orchestral parts and soulful vocals. Certified in his hometown of Wellington, and around the country as a tellingly diverse drummer, over the last few years, through his membership in Electric Wire Hustle, Myele quickly becoming a fixture on the international contemporary soul circuit. Along the way, he’s learned a thing or two, and based on his recent works, he’s about to become known as a competent record producer and electronic laptop musician in his own right.
"A lot of the time, the focus is placed on the singer or the producer of a song, and people don’t really acknowledge the creative aspect a good drummer brings to a song," he explains, seated in a slightly dilapidated club chair on the mezzanine floor of the rented warehouse loft he shares with his partner and several flatmates. "It irked me. The idea that my main form of creative expression might not lead to recognition. So I decided this was probably something that I needed to address, because I didn’t want to go through my musical career with this baggage." A 2008 Jazz performance degree graduate of the New Zealand School of Music, Manzanza had been considering another year of study. Instead, with Electric Wire Hustle’s music picking up momentum in the Northern hemisphere, he committed to some serious overseas touring and travel, and decided to, as he puts it, “Invest thousands of dollars into making this record instead of studying.”

During the period of time following, Manzanza spent stints of time living outside of New Zealand in Berlin and New York, writing music along the way, and where and as possible, collaborating with friends and admired artists. “When you’re sitting at home in Wellington, you suss your scene out and you’re safe,” he reflects. “You know what you’re doing, but you’re not growing. That whole trip overseas was a big kick in the ass. Being in New York, I would go to jam sessions and see Jazz players you’ve never heard of rip it better than anyone you’ve ever heard play. Being in these environments makes you realise you’ve got a long way to go, and you need to be able to do something both unique and good to foot it. It was the same in Berlin, except it was more about the language barrier, pace of life and the arts scene. Travelling changes your headspace, and hopefully you can put some of that energy into your music.”

Working away on his laptop in the downtime between shows, Myele began to formulate and work within a continuum. This thread connected the tribal African music he’s been brought up with by his Congolese father Sam Manzanza, with the jazz, funk, hip-hop and modern electronic beat music he had so grown to love. He was assisted in this concoction by his collaborators, New Zealand singers Bella Kalolo, Ladi6 and Rachel Fraser, Philadelphian rapper Charlie K, Woodwind arranger James Wylie, legendary New Zealand born keyboardist Mark De Clive Lowe, Electric Wire Hustle and numerous other musicians and vocalists, not forgetting his father, who contributed vocals to One's lead single 'Me I Know Him'. “Working with dad was funny,” he recalls. he had injured his knee and was staying with me and my mum. I had an idea it would be cool to record with him, so I got him to sing a chant he used to use when I would play with him in his drumming circles. I thought it would work well. We recorded it, edited it up in one take and it just came together.”

Another highlight was working with Mark De Clive Lowe on two songs, ‘Big Space’ and ‘Elvin’s Brew’. Manzanza describes Lowe as “a beast” and was totally floored over by the speed with which Lowe drafted as he puts it, “an opus of synth glory,” on ‘Big Space’. A long time fan of Lowe, based on the results heard on One, the feeling must be mutual. “, I guess we have a lot of the same influences,” Manzanza says.”I think he’s gone through the same thing as me of knowing jazz and being into hip-hop and electronic music and kind of forging it together in his own way.” He pauses to think before continuing. “It’s a funny thing making music and then trying to talk about it afterwards. People can say you sound like this artist, or have these influences, but at the time of the actual making, that isn’t what you’re really thinking about at all. I could be playing at a gig and play a J-Dilla [style] beat and people who know will be like, dope, that’s a J-Dilla thing! But people who don’t know what will just hear a beat. The context people have from listening gives them a greater appreciation for things.” Manzanza’s observations are astute and to the point, much like his music, and when the world hears One, he will definitely be recognised as more than just a drummer. - Rip It Up Magazine (New Zealand)


The debut solo album from Electric Wire Hustle drummer Myele Manzanza, One is a shimmering haze of intricate rhythms, swirling futurist synths, expansive woodwind orchestral parts and soulful vocals. Certified in his hometown of Wellington, and around the country as a tellingly diverse drummer, over the last few years, through his membership in Electric Wire Hustle, Myele quickly becoming a fixture on the international contemporary soul circuit. Along the way, he’s learned a thing or two, and based on his recent works, he’s about to become known as a competent record producer and electronic laptop musician in his own right.
"A lot of the time, the focus is placed on the singer or the producer of a song, and people don’t really acknowledge the creative aspect a good drummer brings to a song," he explains, seated in a slightly dilapidated club chair on the mezzanine floor of the rented warehouse loft he shares with his partner and several flatmates. "It irked me. The idea that my main form of creative expression might not lead to recognition. So I decided this was probably something that I needed to address, because I didn’t want to go through my musical career with this baggage." A 2008 Jazz performance degree graduate of the New Zealand School of Music, Manzanza had been considering another year of study. Instead, with Electric Wire Hustle’s music picking up momentum in the Northern hemisphere, he committed to some serious overseas touring and travel, and decided to, as he puts it, “Invest thousands of dollars into making this record instead of studying.”

During the period of time following, Manzanza spent stints of time living outside of New Zealand in Berlin and New York, writing music along the way, and where and as possible, collaborating with friends and admired artists. “When you’re sitting at home in Wellington, you suss your scene out and you’re safe,” he reflects. “You know what you’re doing, but you’re not growing. That whole trip overseas was a big kick in the ass. Being in New York, I would go to jam sessions and see Jazz players you’ve never heard of rip it better than anyone you’ve ever heard play. Being in these environments makes you realise you’ve got a long way to go, and you need to be able to do something both unique and good to foot it. It was the same in Berlin, except it was more about the language barrier, pace of life and the arts scene. Travelling changes your headspace, and hopefully you can put some of that energy into your music.”

Working away on his laptop in the downtime between shows, Myele began to formulate and work within a continuum. This thread connected the tribal African music he’s been brought up with by his Congolese father Sam Manzanza, with the jazz, funk, hip-hop and modern electronic beat music he had so grown to love. He was assisted in this concoction by his collaborators, New Zealand singers Bella Kalolo, Ladi6 and Rachel Fraser, Philadelphian rapper Charlie K, Woodwind arranger James Wylie, legendary New Zealand born keyboardist Mark De Clive Lowe, Electric Wire Hustle and numerous other musicians and vocalists, not forgetting his father, who contributed vocals to One's lead single 'Me I Know Him'. “Working with dad was funny,” he recalls. he had injured his knee and was staying with me and my mum. I had an idea it would be cool to record with him, so I got him to sing a chant he used to use when I would play with him in his drumming circles. I thought it would work well. We recorded it, edited it up in one take and it just came together.”

Another highlight was working with Mark De Clive Lowe on two songs, ‘Big Space’ and ‘Elvin’s Brew’. Manzanza describes Lowe as “a beast” and was totally floored over by the speed with which Lowe drafted as he puts it, “an opus of synth glory,” on ‘Big Space’. A long time fan of Lowe, based on the results heard on One, the feeling must be mutual. “, I guess we have a lot of the same influences,” Manzanza says.”I think he’s gone through the same thing as me of knowing jazz and being into hip-hop and electronic music and kind of forging it together in his own way.” He pauses to think before continuing. “It’s a funny thing making music and then trying to talk about it afterwards. People can say you sound like this artist, or have these influences, but at the time of the actual making, that isn’t what you’re really thinking about at all. I could be playing at a gig and play a J-Dilla [style] beat and people who know will be like, dope, that’s a J-Dilla thing! But people who don’t know what will just hear a beat. The context people have from listening gives them a greater appreciation for things.” Manzanza’s observations are astute and to the point, much like his music, and when the world hears One, he will definitely be recognised as more than just a drummer. - Rip It Up Magazine (New Zealand)


The opening track on Wellington drummer Myele Manzanza's debut solo album samples voicemail messages left by his supportive but weary neighbours, Jill and Tony, who can no longer handle his drumming practice at 11.25pm. It's perhaps indicative not so much of Manzanza being an obstinate or callous fellow, but rather his dedication to his craft. For, at 23, he is one passionately bad-ass drummer. And it turns out he's an impressive songwriter, programmer, and producer too.

While he's been one- third of progressive soul trio Electric Wire Hustle for more than four years, along with spending time on the skins for Olmecha Supreme, Recloose, and his renowned father, Sam Manzanza (who Myele credits as a huge influence), this is his first time in charge of a song set, and he's come up with 10 psychedelic, funk-jazz-soul-afro-beat tracks, featuring a wide array of illustrious guests. Mark de Clive Lowe, Ladi6, Crete Haami, Isaac Aesili, and his fellow EWH musicians David Wright and Mara TK are just a few of those involved. Vocalist Bella Kalolo and keyboardist Steph Brown round out the trio on early stand-out track Absent, with its hip-hop influenced beats, seductive croon, and Prince-esque moments of instrumentation.


It's hard to pick stand-outs, each track offering a different sonic journey, but City of Atlantis is a true highlight - a cool, grooving, soundscape of woodwind, low strings, and hip-swaying beats, which curl around rhymes from Charlie K and a touching verse from Ladi6. Delay is a cloud of, well, delay, but with sharp patterns and fragmented synth riffs, and closing track Me I Know Him is a showcase of precisely weaving rhythms under breathy vocal waves.

There is an amazing attention to detail and space, and even if things occasionally stretch over into the direction of avant-garde and academic, Manzanza has such perfect rhythmic feel that it doesn't matter. It's a beautifully crafted treat for your ears.

Stars: 4.5/5 - The New Zealand Herald


The opening track on Wellington drummer Myele Manzanza's debut solo album samples voicemail messages left by his supportive but weary neighbours, Jill and Tony, who can no longer handle his drumming practice at 11.25pm. It's perhaps indicative not so much of Manzanza being an obstinate or callous fellow, but rather his dedication to his craft. For, at 23, he is one passionately bad-ass drummer. And it turns out he's an impressive songwriter, programmer, and producer too.

While he's been one- third of progressive soul trio Electric Wire Hustle for more than four years, along with spending time on the skins for Olmecha Supreme, Recloose, and his renowned father, Sam Manzanza (who Myele credits as a huge influence), this is his first time in charge of a song set, and he's come up with 10 psychedelic, funk-jazz-soul-afro-beat tracks, featuring a wide array of illustrious guests. Mark de Clive Lowe, Ladi6, Crete Haami, Isaac Aesili, and his fellow EWH musicians David Wright and Mara TK are just a few of those involved. Vocalist Bella Kalolo and keyboardist Steph Brown round out the trio on early stand-out track Absent, with its hip-hop influenced beats, seductive croon, and Prince-esque moments of instrumentation.


It's hard to pick stand-outs, each track offering a different sonic journey, but City of Atlantis is a true highlight - a cool, grooving, soundscape of woodwind, low strings, and hip-swaying beats, which curl around rhymes from Charlie K and a touching verse from Ladi6. Delay is a cloud of, well, delay, but with sharp patterns and fragmented synth riffs, and closing track Me I Know Him is a showcase of precisely weaving rhythms under breathy vocal waves.

There is an amazing attention to detail and space, and even if things occasionally stretch over into the direction of avant-garde and academic, Manzanza has such perfect rhythmic feel that it doesn't matter. It's a beautifully crafted treat for your ears.

Stars: 4.5/5 - The New Zealand Herald


Freshly shorn of his signature afro, Myele Manzanza is a recognisable face on the local live music circuit. A trained jazz drummer, Manzanza is the son of Congolese musician Sam Manzanza, the manwho almost singlehandedly popularised traditional and modern African music in New Zealand during the late 1980s and 1990s. Accordingly, Manzanza has had a strong grounding in rhythm since day one.

Manzanza had the fortune of being introduced to the New Zealand music circuit by a series of individuals with decidedly global musical outlooks, including afrofuturist rockers Olmecha Supreme, globally respected jazz keyboardist Jonathan Crayford and Detroit techno expat Recloose. Solidifying this through his membership of critically acclaimed contemporary electronic soul act Electric Wire Hustle, at age 25, Manzanza is already a live performance and studio recording veteran, with multiple Australian, European and American tours to his credit.

With One, his debut solo album, Manzanza expands his skill set beyond drumming, stepping into the studio production chair to oversee a record that deftly draws a line between traditional African music, classic jazz, golden age hip-hop and RnB and the skipping percussive impulses of modern bass dance music. Assisted by not just his father Sam, but legendary New Zealand keysman Mark De Clive-Lowe, golden- voiced Electric Wire Hustle singer Mara TK, soul divas Bella Kalolo, Rachel Fraser, Amenta and Ladi6, and Philadelphian rapper Charlie K (of WrittenHouse), with One, Manzanza places an equal premium on tone (vocal and instrumental) and rhythm. The outcome is hypnotic, engaging and fundamentally lacking in a specific regional identity.

And make no mistake, the mercurial nature of Manzanza’s music is one of the best things about it. One is a record that could have just as easily come from New York, London or Tokyo, and through its swirling dynamics, crystalline keyboard lines, wandering drums and swampy bass, asserts undeniably Manzanza’s position as a musical global citizen. Standout cuts include ‘City Of Atlantis’, which, over cinematic grooves, showcases a peak form verse from Ladi6 and blistering raps by Charlie K. Equally compelling is the sinuous electronica of ‘Me I Know Him’ on which demanding rhythms, bright keys and Amenta’s wailings underscore Sam Manzanza’s spoken word discourse on his personal relationship with Nelson Mandela.

Understatedly cool, and stunningly cohesive in mood, One is a remarkably well-realised debut album. - Fishhead Magazine (New Zealand)


Freshly shorn of his signature afro, Myele Manzanza is a recognisable face on the local live music circuit. A trained jazz drummer, Manzanza is the son of Congolese musician Sam Manzanza, the manwho almost singlehandedly popularised traditional and modern African music in New Zealand during the late 1980s and 1990s. Accordingly, Manzanza has had a strong grounding in rhythm since day one.

Manzanza had the fortune of being introduced to the New Zealand music circuit by a series of individuals with decidedly global musical outlooks, including afrofuturist rockers Olmecha Supreme, globally respected jazz keyboardist Jonathan Crayford and Detroit techno expat Recloose. Solidifying this through his membership of critically acclaimed contemporary electronic soul act Electric Wire Hustle, at age 25, Manzanza is already a live performance and studio recording veteran, with multiple Australian, European and American tours to his credit.

With One, his debut solo album, Manzanza expands his skill set beyond drumming, stepping into the studio production chair to oversee a record that deftly draws a line between traditional African music, classic jazz, golden age hip-hop and RnB and the skipping percussive impulses of modern bass dance music. Assisted by not just his father Sam, but legendary New Zealand keysman Mark De Clive-Lowe, golden- voiced Electric Wire Hustle singer Mara TK, soul divas Bella Kalolo, Rachel Fraser, Amenta and Ladi6, and Philadelphian rapper Charlie K (of WrittenHouse), with One, Manzanza places an equal premium on tone (vocal and instrumental) and rhythm. The outcome is hypnotic, engaging and fundamentally lacking in a specific regional identity.

And make no mistake, the mercurial nature of Manzanza’s music is one of the best things about it. One is a record that could have just as easily come from New York, London or Tokyo, and through its swirling dynamics, crystalline keyboard lines, wandering drums and swampy bass, asserts undeniably Manzanza’s position as a musical global citizen. Standout cuts include ‘City Of Atlantis’, which, over cinematic grooves, showcases a peak form verse from Ladi6 and blistering raps by Charlie K. Equally compelling is the sinuous electronica of ‘Me I Know Him’ on which demanding rhythms, bright keys and Amenta’s wailings underscore Sam Manzanza’s spoken word discourse on his personal relationship with Nelson Mandela.

Understatedly cool, and stunningly cohesive in mood, One is a remarkably well-realised debut album. - Fishhead Magazine (New Zealand)


Since the release of their 2010 self titled LP, I’ve been patiently anxiously waiting for the next album from Kiwi band Electric Wire Hustle. We don’t have any news on that front just yet, but we’re serving up the next best thing today. EWH drummer Myele Manzanza is going the solo route and blesses us with the premiere of his new video “On The Move” featuring Rachel Fraser. Video directed by Michael Hobbs. If you’ve ever seen EWH live, you know that Myele is a rare talent behind that drum set. He puts those skills in motion or on the move with this tight new single featuring the soulful vocals of Rachel Fraser. The digital single is out now via BBE Records, and for one week only will be available as a free download via Myele’s website (go get that now). Look for the international release of Myele’s solo LP, One, on September 2nd. Get some words from Myele on the song/video, below. Sadly Myele’s solo move is a permanent one, get some words from him about leaving EWR as well, below.

This is my first music video under my own name… I produced the track a while back on the road, and I thought that the feel of the track was a good fit for Rachel’s natural flow. We selected Wellington based filmmaker Michael Hobbs of I Had Hippy Parents to produce and direct the video. We talked over many different ideas but it felt right for us to keep the visual treatment beautiful but open to interpretation, kind of like the song itself. Michael assembled a fantastic crew for the shoot and I was also really happy to be able to feature some more local talent including NZ designers MisteR Clothing and amazing local dancers Emma Coppersmith, Emma Dellabarca & Isabelle Nelson.

It is with a heavy heart that I announce that I will not be continuing with Electric Wire Hustle. We’ve been together for the last 6 years which is a good amount of my lifespan. It is a very difficult but necessary step for me as an artist and a person to take control of my own career and I hope to be able to continue to share my music with all the amazing people that have been supportive of what we have been doing. - Okayplayer.com (USA)


Since the release of their 2010 self titled LP, I’ve been patiently anxiously waiting for the next album from Kiwi band Electric Wire Hustle. We don’t have any news on that front just yet, but we’re serving up the next best thing today. EWH drummer Myele Manzanza is going the solo route and blesses us with the premiere of his new video “On The Move” featuring Rachel Fraser. Video directed by Michael Hobbs. If you’ve ever seen EWH live, you know that Myele is a rare talent behind that drum set. He puts those skills in motion or on the move with this tight new single featuring the soulful vocals of Rachel Fraser. The digital single is out now via BBE Records, and for one week only will be available as a free download via Myele’s website (go get that now). Look for the international release of Myele’s solo LP, One, on September 2nd. Get some words from Myele on the song/video, below. Sadly Myele’s solo move is a permanent one, get some words from him about leaving EWR as well, below.

This is my first music video under my own name… I produced the track a while back on the road, and I thought that the feel of the track was a good fit for Rachel’s natural flow. We selected Wellington based filmmaker Michael Hobbs of I Had Hippy Parents to produce and direct the video. We talked over many different ideas but it felt right for us to keep the visual treatment beautiful but open to interpretation, kind of like the song itself. Michael assembled a fantastic crew for the shoot and I was also really happy to be able to feature some more local talent including NZ designers MisteR Clothing and amazing local dancers Emma Coppersmith, Emma Dellabarca & Isabelle Nelson.

It is with a heavy heart that I announce that I will not be continuing with Electric Wire Hustle. We’ve been together for the last 6 years which is a good amount of my lifespan. It is a very difficult but necessary step for me as an artist and a person to take control of my own career and I hope to be able to continue to share my music with all the amazing people that have been supportive of what we have been doing. - Okayplayer.com (USA)


Stets im Hintergrund und doch präsent wie kaum ein anderes Instrument. Das Schlagzeug ist die Basis jeder erfolgreichen Musik der letzten Jahrzehnte. Die Rolle des Schlagzeugers ist ähnlich vertrackt. Er ist nicht wegzudenken und doch nur Begleiterscheinung der Rampensäue im Scheinwerferlicht. Dass ein Drummer und Dirigent weitaus mehr gemeinsam haben als nur die offensichtliche Ähnlichkeit des Schlegels und Taktstocks, wird in jüngster Zeit immer deutlicher. Leute wie Chris Dave, Adam Deitch oder Mark Guiliana zeigen Schlag um Schlag, dass auch sie das Zeug dazu haben, im Gefüge einer ganzen Band zu kontrapunktieren. Mit seinem Paukenschlag »One« hat sich nun Myele Manzanza, bekannt als Schlagzeuger von Electric Wire Hustle, in den Kreis dieser Künstler katapultiert. Wir unterhielten uns mit dem Neuseeländer, um herauszufinden, wie er in seinen Kesseln braut.

Viele deiner Songs scheinen direkt für das Schlagzeug entworfen worden zu sein. Allein der Mix, der den Drumsound hervorhebt, spricht da für sich selbst. Gleichzeitig erkenne ich keinen eindeutigen roten Faden. Wie wurde das Album konzipiert?
Myele Manzanza: Da ich nunmal Schlagzeuger bin und dies mein Album, ist es selbstverständlich, dass die Drums einen besonderen Stellenwert einnehmen. Auch wenn es mehr darum ging, mich als Produzent besser kennenzulernen. Das mit dem fehlenden roten Faden ist eine faire und ernstzunehmende Einschätzung, das habe ich schon mehrfach gehört. Es ging mir nicht per se darum, das Schlagzeug in den Mittelpunkt zu stellen. Vielmehr alle meine Vorlieben mit einzubeziehen.

Also doch eher Bauch als Kopf… Wieso habe ich dennoch den Eindruck, du wolltest mehr erreichen, als einfach nur deine Musik zu spielen. Vielleicht das Schlagzeug ins rechte Licht zu rücken, ihm den Zuspruch zu verleihen, den es unlängst verdient hat?
Myele Manzanza: Ich glaube Musik kommt essentiell immer von einem unbeabsichtigten Impetus her. Es ist eine ehrenhafte und ehrgeizige Aufgabe, zu versuchen, die Rolle des Schlagzeugers zu revolutionieren. Aber es kann einen auch leicht in den Nietzsche’n Abgrund der Depression und Selbstverachtung treiben. Glaub‘ mir, ich war schon da. Man kann eigentlich nur üben, seine Schwächen kennen und schätzen lernen, und die daraus resultierende Musik, seinen Instinkten vertrauend, so aufrichtig spielen, wie es nur eben geht. Wenn dann Leute behaupten, man habe etwas für ein Instrument oder einen Stil erreicht, und wird dadurch selber zum Einfluss für andere, dann ist das klasse. Aber es sollte nicht das Ziel sein.

»Das Publikum ist seit jeher zu sehr auf die Sänger konzentriert, was für unsereins zum Nachteil wird. Wir Schlagzeuger müssen aus unserem natürlichen Habitat herauskommen, um diesen unbedingten Zugriff nutzen zu können.« (Myele Manzanza)Leute wie Billy Cobham oder Elvin Jones sind oder waren dafür bekannt, sowohl an ihrem Instrument als auch in der Rolle des Bandleaders zu brillieren. Das findet man heut zu Tage nicht mehr so leicht. Was denkst du darüber?
Myele Manzanza: Es ist sehr schwer beide Sachen unter einen Hut zu bringen. Die Industrie wie auch das Publikum ist seit jeher zu sehr auf die Sänger konzentriert, was für unsereins zum Nachteil wird. Vielleicht, weil sie ungleich mehr mit Harmonien und Melodien arbeiten, und dadurch einen weitaus einfacheren Zugang zur Welt des Komponierens und somit in das Ohr des Zuhörers haben. Wir Schlagzeuger müssen aus unserem natürlichen Habitat herauskommen, um diesen unbedingten Zugriff nutzen zu können.

Obwohl das Schlagzeug (und der Bass) das strukturelle Rückgrat einer Band darstellen, liegen sie bezüglich der Wertschätzung und Anerkennung beim Publikum weit hinter den anderen Instrumenten. Wie erklärst du dir das?
Myele Manzanza: Schwer zu sagen. Nicht von der Hand zu weisen ist, dass ein Sänger einen natürlichen Vorteil hat, da er mit Worten arbeitet, die viel unmittelbarer Emotionen preisgeben. Hinzukommt ein evolutionäres Merkmal, durch das wir Menschen, Stimmen viel leichter als andere Geräusche wahrnehmen. Allerdings gibt es auch diese intuitive Verbindung, die ein jeder im Rhythmus spürt. Sänger haben den direkten Zugang zum Herzen der Hörer, was sie aber in Bewegung setzt, dass ist unwiderruflich die Rhythmusgruppe.

Moderne Musik belegt es immer wieder. Es geht fast ausschließlich um einen übe - hhv.de/mag (Germany)


Stets im Hintergrund und doch präsent wie kaum ein anderes Instrument. Das Schlagzeug ist die Basis jeder erfolgreichen Musik der letzten Jahrzehnte. Die Rolle des Schlagzeugers ist ähnlich vertrackt. Er ist nicht wegzudenken und doch nur Begleiterscheinung der Rampensäue im Scheinwerferlicht. Dass ein Drummer und Dirigent weitaus mehr gemeinsam haben als nur die offensichtliche Ähnlichkeit des Schlegels und Taktstocks, wird in jüngster Zeit immer deutlicher. Leute wie Chris Dave, Adam Deitch oder Mark Guiliana zeigen Schlag um Schlag, dass auch sie das Zeug dazu haben, im Gefüge einer ganzen Band zu kontrapunktieren. Mit seinem Paukenschlag »One« hat sich nun Myele Manzanza, bekannt als Schlagzeuger von Electric Wire Hustle, in den Kreis dieser Künstler katapultiert. Wir unterhielten uns mit dem Neuseeländer, um herauszufinden, wie er in seinen Kesseln braut.

Viele deiner Songs scheinen direkt für das Schlagzeug entworfen worden zu sein. Allein der Mix, der den Drumsound hervorhebt, spricht da für sich selbst. Gleichzeitig erkenne ich keinen eindeutigen roten Faden. Wie wurde das Album konzipiert?
Myele Manzanza: Da ich nunmal Schlagzeuger bin und dies mein Album, ist es selbstverständlich, dass die Drums einen besonderen Stellenwert einnehmen. Auch wenn es mehr darum ging, mich als Produzent besser kennenzulernen. Das mit dem fehlenden roten Faden ist eine faire und ernstzunehmende Einschätzung, das habe ich schon mehrfach gehört. Es ging mir nicht per se darum, das Schlagzeug in den Mittelpunkt zu stellen. Vielmehr alle meine Vorlieben mit einzubeziehen.

Also doch eher Bauch als Kopf… Wieso habe ich dennoch den Eindruck, du wolltest mehr erreichen, als einfach nur deine Musik zu spielen. Vielleicht das Schlagzeug ins rechte Licht zu rücken, ihm den Zuspruch zu verleihen, den es unlängst verdient hat?
Myele Manzanza: Ich glaube Musik kommt essentiell immer von einem unbeabsichtigten Impetus her. Es ist eine ehrenhafte und ehrgeizige Aufgabe, zu versuchen, die Rolle des Schlagzeugers zu revolutionieren. Aber es kann einen auch leicht in den Nietzsche’n Abgrund der Depression und Selbstverachtung treiben. Glaub‘ mir, ich war schon da. Man kann eigentlich nur üben, seine Schwächen kennen und schätzen lernen, und die daraus resultierende Musik, seinen Instinkten vertrauend, so aufrichtig spielen, wie es nur eben geht. Wenn dann Leute behaupten, man habe etwas für ein Instrument oder einen Stil erreicht, und wird dadurch selber zum Einfluss für andere, dann ist das klasse. Aber es sollte nicht das Ziel sein.

»Das Publikum ist seit jeher zu sehr auf die Sänger konzentriert, was für unsereins zum Nachteil wird. Wir Schlagzeuger müssen aus unserem natürlichen Habitat herauskommen, um diesen unbedingten Zugriff nutzen zu können.« (Myele Manzanza)Leute wie Billy Cobham oder Elvin Jones sind oder waren dafür bekannt, sowohl an ihrem Instrument als auch in der Rolle des Bandleaders zu brillieren. Das findet man heut zu Tage nicht mehr so leicht. Was denkst du darüber?
Myele Manzanza: Es ist sehr schwer beide Sachen unter einen Hut zu bringen. Die Industrie wie auch das Publikum ist seit jeher zu sehr auf die Sänger konzentriert, was für unsereins zum Nachteil wird. Vielleicht, weil sie ungleich mehr mit Harmonien und Melodien arbeiten, und dadurch einen weitaus einfacheren Zugang zur Welt des Komponierens und somit in das Ohr des Zuhörers haben. Wir Schlagzeuger müssen aus unserem natürlichen Habitat herauskommen, um diesen unbedingten Zugriff nutzen zu können.

Obwohl das Schlagzeug (und der Bass) das strukturelle Rückgrat einer Band darstellen, liegen sie bezüglich der Wertschätzung und Anerkennung beim Publikum weit hinter den anderen Instrumenten. Wie erklärst du dir das?
Myele Manzanza: Schwer zu sagen. Nicht von der Hand zu weisen ist, dass ein Sänger einen natürlichen Vorteil hat, da er mit Worten arbeitet, die viel unmittelbarer Emotionen preisgeben. Hinzukommt ein evolutionäres Merkmal, durch das wir Menschen, Stimmen viel leichter als andere Geräusche wahrnehmen. Allerdings gibt es auch diese intuitive Verbindung, die ein jeder im Rhythmus spürt. Sänger haben den direkten Zugang zum Herzen der Hörer, was sie aber in Bewegung setzt, dass ist unwiderruflich die Rhythmusgruppe.

Moderne Musik belegt es immer wieder. Es geht fast ausschließlich um einen übe - hhv.de/mag (Germany)


The opening track of the upcoming solo album by Myele Manzanza is called Drum Intro. It features an open solo with recorded phone messages from neighbours complaining about the hours of noise they've endured from a young Myele practising. It's funny, it grooves, it's very possibly revenge but it also works as a clever way of showing how far Myele has come - in a relatively short time. Well that was my thought anyway; the idea that history is conveyed in that one short piece, in an innovative way, appealed to me.

As soon as I heard that track, and replayed it before moving through the rest of the album, I was sure I wanted to speak to Manzanza; I wanted to get his story. He's been involved with a lot of music, a lot of really great music. There have been some huge triumphs. His is a story of following dreams, of dedication, of working hard - discovering new ideas and being open to new forms of expression. But it's also the story of a guy bashing at the drums, possibly annoying a few neighbours along the way.

Myele Manzanza was born to music, born into music. His father is Sam Manzanza, a musical life-force, a Congolese musician who has kept African music alive in New Zealand since arriving here in the 1980s. Sam's influence on Myele was huge. He had his son joining him on stage; he taught him percussion, traditional rhythms, passed on the musical genealogy. Myele said he really noticed the importance of his African roots when he came to study music, noticing "music has African roots, so much of the music you dance to, the concept of groove, of music your body moves to - it is an African idea". He compares this to the advantage of studying Latin, understanding the root of words before going on to other languages.

But Myele didn't sit down behind a drum-kit until he was 14, not quite a late-bloomer, but far from an overly eager drum-prodigy. He had his hand in, percussively speaking. But the kit was the start of his true musical exploration. He made up for any lost time, practising, studying, applying an open-minded approach to the concepts of rhythm, drawing on the inherent, elaborating by taking his cues from some fine musical masters.

Manzanza is known to many for his work with Electric Wire Hustle. His debut solo album, ONE, will be released next week. It seamlessly traverses jazz, hip-hop, R'n'B, electronica, broken-beat soul and several world musics. It feels like a lifetime of work - and even though its creator is just 23, there is a lifetime of experience already behind this album.

Manzanza, at 14, was "hitting puberty around the time that nu-metal was big". So he was tapped into and tapping along with Korn, Limp Bizkit and Deftones (David Silveria of Korn and Abe Cunningham of Deftones were what he would "slam it out to" in terms of early drumming heroes). An early eureka moment was being at the Big Day Out, moving from Limp Bizkit to "seeing Roni Size and becoming obsessed with drum'n'bass". This was at a time when Myele was rehearsing for Rockquest stardom, "pretty much just getting everything from Around the Fur and White Pony locked down."

Around this time what became known as "the Welli-dub sound" was influential. Manzanza remembers "Trinity Roots and the Cuba Street Carnival, One Love, an exciting time".

At the age of 16, as percussionist for a high school big band at the Tauranga Jazz Festival, Myele had his eyes and ears opened to "some seriously good players". It was formative. "That turned me on to jazz," Myele explains. "And it got me to take music seriously." Then it was to the musical worlds of Miles Davis and John Coltrane, to drummers like Elvin Jones and Art Blakey and Manzanza's attention turned to "jazz school; to the focus required". He spent his final two years of high school practising and after meeting Imon Starr ("one of the huge musical mentors in my life") Manzanza found himself, aged 17, on stage with Olmecha Supreme. Now he was part of the scene he had been following.

"Through Imon I was introduced to his sister, Deva Mahal, and I filled in for Darren Mathiassen as part of her band. That was a dream lineup: there was Lisa Tomlins on backing vocals and Rio Hemopo on bass, the Yeabsleys from Twinset, it was so many of the people I'd grown up seeing and I was there on stage with them." Around this time, a jazz school student, Myele made good on a goal he had set himself, to play with Scribes of Ra within five years. "It was just the one gig," he says, with a soft smile, "but I had managed it within five months."

The next big musical mentor for Myele was Jonathan Crayford, someone Manz - Stuff.co.nz (New Zealand)


The opening track of the upcoming solo album by Myele Manzanza is called Drum Intro. It features an open solo with recorded phone messages from neighbours complaining about the hours of noise they've endured from a young Myele practising. It's funny, it grooves, it's very possibly revenge but it also works as a clever way of showing how far Myele has come - in a relatively short time. Well that was my thought anyway; the idea that history is conveyed in that one short piece, in an innovative way, appealed to me.

As soon as I heard that track, and replayed it before moving through the rest of the album, I was sure I wanted to speak to Manzanza; I wanted to get his story. He's been involved with a lot of music, a lot of really great music. There have been some huge triumphs. His is a story of following dreams, of dedication, of working hard - discovering new ideas and being open to new forms of expression. But it's also the story of a guy bashing at the drums, possibly annoying a few neighbours along the way.

Myele Manzanza was born to music, born into music. His father is Sam Manzanza, a musical life-force, a Congolese musician who has kept African music alive in New Zealand since arriving here in the 1980s. Sam's influence on Myele was huge. He had his son joining him on stage; he taught him percussion, traditional rhythms, passed on the musical genealogy. Myele said he really noticed the importance of his African roots when he came to study music, noticing "music has African roots, so much of the music you dance to, the concept of groove, of music your body moves to - it is an African idea". He compares this to the advantage of studying Latin, understanding the root of words before going on to other languages.

But Myele didn't sit down behind a drum-kit until he was 14, not quite a late-bloomer, but far from an overly eager drum-prodigy. He had his hand in, percussively speaking. But the kit was the start of his true musical exploration. He made up for any lost time, practising, studying, applying an open-minded approach to the concepts of rhythm, drawing on the inherent, elaborating by taking his cues from some fine musical masters.

Manzanza is known to many for his work with Electric Wire Hustle. His debut solo album, ONE, will be released next week. It seamlessly traverses jazz, hip-hop, R'n'B, electronica, broken-beat soul and several world musics. It feels like a lifetime of work - and even though its creator is just 23, there is a lifetime of experience already behind this album.

Manzanza, at 14, was "hitting puberty around the time that nu-metal was big". So he was tapped into and tapping along with Korn, Limp Bizkit and Deftones (David Silveria of Korn and Abe Cunningham of Deftones were what he would "slam it out to" in terms of early drumming heroes). An early eureka moment was being at the Big Day Out, moving from Limp Bizkit to "seeing Roni Size and becoming obsessed with drum'n'bass". This was at a time when Myele was rehearsing for Rockquest stardom, "pretty much just getting everything from Around the Fur and White Pony locked down."

Around this time what became known as "the Welli-dub sound" was influential. Manzanza remembers "Trinity Roots and the Cuba Street Carnival, One Love, an exciting time".

At the age of 16, as percussionist for a high school big band at the Tauranga Jazz Festival, Myele had his eyes and ears opened to "some seriously good players". It was formative. "That turned me on to jazz," Myele explains. "And it got me to take music seriously." Then it was to the musical worlds of Miles Davis and John Coltrane, to drummers like Elvin Jones and Art Blakey and Manzanza's attention turned to "jazz school; to the focus required". He spent his final two years of high school practising and after meeting Imon Starr ("one of the huge musical mentors in my life") Manzanza found himself, aged 17, on stage with Olmecha Supreme. Now he was part of the scene he had been following.

"Through Imon I was introduced to his sister, Deva Mahal, and I filled in for Darren Mathiassen as part of her band. That was a dream lineup: there was Lisa Tomlins on backing vocals and Rio Hemopo on bass, the Yeabsleys from Twinset, it was so many of the people I'd grown up seeing and I was there on stage with them." Around this time, a jazz school student, Myele made good on a goal he had set himself, to play with Scribes of Ra within five years. "It was just the one gig," he says, with a soft smile, "but I had managed it within five months."

The next big musical mentor for Myele was Jonathan Crayford, someone Manz - Stuff.co.nz (New Zealand)


Einer wie keiner! Mit dem Standbein ist er tief verwurzelt in der rhythmischen Vielfalt seiner afrikanischen Vorfahren und den Blick hat er gen Zukunft gerichtet. Das daraus resultierte Erstlingswerk sucht im aktuellen Zeitgeschehen seines Gleichen. Dazumal gab es vergleichbare Ausnahmeschlagzeuger, die nicht nur mit den Schlegeln ihre Bands antrieben, sondern auch mit den Zügeln in der Hand den musikalischen Werdegang einer ganzen Epoche vorantrieben. Billy Cobham, dessen facettenreiche musikalische Verwirklichung wohl niemals gänzlich verwirken wird. Elvin Jones, der wohl häufiger referiert wurde als er Trommelschläge auf einer Scheibe unterbringen konnte. Und so auch auf diesem Album in einer Hommage weiterlebt. Zugegebenermassen ist Myele Manzanza noch weit von den Spähren oben genannter entfernt, die nötige Grundlage dafür hoch hinaus zu kommen, gibt er auf seinem Debut aber preis. Er besitzt mit seinen gerade Mal 25 Jahren eine Technik und Versatilität sondergleichen, die Vorstellungskraft Brücken zu schlagen, und das nicht nur wo Sie fehlen, sonder vor allen Dingen dort, wo Sie sonst niemand sieht. Und allem voran ist er ein unbändiges Experimen-Tier an seinem Instrument. Zwar noch so wild, daß er Jazz (von Free bis Funk), R&B, Hip Hop, und sämtliche Nu-Derivate teils bis zur Unkenntlichkeit vermengt. Unverkennbar ist darin aber seine tiefschürfende Auseinandersetzung und Infragestellung mit der Materie. Diese geistige Regsamkeit ist das wirksamste Antidot gegen die konformistische Valium Verabreichung seitens der Charts. Wer könnte das überzeugender bestätigen, als jemand, der Myele‘s Musikstudium über die Jahre aus nächster Nähe am eigenen Leib miterleben durfte. Um es also mit den Worten einer der Nachbarn auszudrücken, die in diversen Anrufbeantworter-Nachrichten im Intro zu Wort kommen: He‘s keeping us awake! - hhv.de/mag (Germany)


Einer wie keiner! Mit dem Standbein ist er tief verwurzelt in der rhythmischen Vielfalt seiner afrikanischen Vorfahren und den Blick hat er gen Zukunft gerichtet. Das daraus resultierte Erstlingswerk sucht im aktuellen Zeitgeschehen seines Gleichen. Dazumal gab es vergleichbare Ausnahmeschlagzeuger, die nicht nur mit den Schlegeln ihre Bands antrieben, sondern auch mit den Zügeln in der Hand den musikalischen Werdegang einer ganzen Epoche vorantrieben. Billy Cobham, dessen facettenreiche musikalische Verwirklichung wohl niemals gänzlich verwirken wird. Elvin Jones, der wohl häufiger referiert wurde als er Trommelschläge auf einer Scheibe unterbringen konnte. Und so auch auf diesem Album in einer Hommage weiterlebt. Zugegebenermassen ist Myele Manzanza noch weit von den Spähren oben genannter entfernt, die nötige Grundlage dafür hoch hinaus zu kommen, gibt er auf seinem Debut aber preis. Er besitzt mit seinen gerade Mal 25 Jahren eine Technik und Versatilität sondergleichen, die Vorstellungskraft Brücken zu schlagen, und das nicht nur wo Sie fehlen, sonder vor allen Dingen dort, wo Sie sonst niemand sieht. Und allem voran ist er ein unbändiges Experimen-Tier an seinem Instrument. Zwar noch so wild, daß er Jazz (von Free bis Funk), R&B, Hip Hop, und sämtliche Nu-Derivate teils bis zur Unkenntlichkeit vermengt. Unverkennbar ist darin aber seine tiefschürfende Auseinandersetzung und Infragestellung mit der Materie. Diese geistige Regsamkeit ist das wirksamste Antidot gegen die konformistische Valium Verabreichung seitens der Charts. Wer könnte das überzeugender bestätigen, als jemand, der Myele‘s Musikstudium über die Jahre aus nächster Nähe am eigenen Leib miterleben durfte. Um es also mit den Worten einer der Nachbarn auszudrücken, die in diversen Anrufbeantworter-Nachrichten im Intro zu Wort kommen: He‘s keeping us awake! - hhv.de/mag (Germany)


Outside of hardcore jazz, albums built around a particular instrument are rare. If they do exist, they are either impenetrably virtuosic, one-trick ponies or for shred-heads only. Which kind of makes them a failure as music, in a way, if the value of music is to move you and me and my uncle Bernard.
When an album is built around the drums, the potential for failure increases. It is a brave artist – one with a true and deep belief in their ability to move their listeners, above and below the waist – who would attempt to carry it off.


In the case of New Zealand drum polymath, Myele Manzanza it helps to be the son of Congolese master percussionist, Sam Manzanza. It also help that Myele Manzanza concieves of the drums as a “talking” instrument, one with a language which can speak to people. “Growing up, music and rhythm was all around me and I understood it from a very early age. Through my father I learnt the language of the drum probably at the same time as I learnt to talk!”
Long a core member of New Zealand’s acclaimed modern jazz-soul group, Electric Wire Hustle, Manzanza has stepped forward with his debut solo album, One.
And as if to lay out the fact that this is no po-faced instrumental professional’s showreel, One starts with the wickedly funny ‘Neighbour’s Intro’ – a jittering polyrhythmic drum solo sandwiched between two phone messages from politely irate neighbours calling to complain about Manzanza’s nocturnal drum practicing.
While we are smirking he smacks us with the roller coaster ride of ‘Big Space’, a 7/4 latin groove that carves its way through a dense, muli-coloured mesh of electro, shooting out the other end with a lovely wordless vocal from Bella Kalolo – reminiscent of 50s sci-fi movie soundtracks, but definitely cruising the Space of Now.
Kalolo features – with lyric this time – on the smooth-as-skin ‘Absent’ next: a cool soul groove built across an angular skeleton. The groove here is typical of Manzanza’s thing – irresistible drum rhythms which are built from highly original architectures: quite beautiful from whichever angle you look at them.
An example is ‘Delay’ which has Manzanza playing with the shapes thrown back at him by reverb echo delay – on the surface quite a simple backbeat but the ripples beneath the waters lend it a shimmering sparkle.
The lovely ‘Elvin’s Brew’ features keys player (and major collaborator) Mark de Clive Lowe. Perhaps namechecking jazz drum colossus Elvin Jones (and Miles Davis‘ Bitches Brew) the track is built on a dreamlike cloud of billowing tom-toms under acoustic keys and electro blips-and-snaps.
Other guests include Myele’s father, Sam Manzanza, NZ’s Ladi 6, Bella Kalolo, Mara TK and Rachel Fraser. International guests include Charlie K from ex-Philadelphia Hip Hop group ‘Writtenhouse’, Canadian vocalist Amenta and James Wylie’s Boston based woodwind section.
The lovely woodwinds form a spectral backwash to the completely transporting ‘City of Atlantis’, their timbre reminiscent of Herbie Hancock‘s psych-funk albums of the 70s such as Speak Like A Child. There are so many flavours here from a similar time and headspace – Stevie Wonder synth squiggles, Weather Report ‘world’ beatz (dig the pan-African percussion of ’7 Bar Thing’), George Duke Rhodes phat phunk.
The old and the new, the acoustic and the digital, soul and jazz, rap and song – all these strands are bound together by the tight yet embracing sinew of Myele Manzanza’s omniscient drums.
He says of One: “Creating this album has been a real process. Each track has it’s own story and developed in it’s own interesting and sometimes unexpected way. This is my first experience in creating my own solo full length body of work and the guest artists were great in helping me to realise my vi­sion. It was also really exciting to work with a woodwind sec­tion in Boston with James Wylie, and see a little fragment of harmony I was messing around with turn into the blooming orchestral parts of ‘City of Atlantis’ and ‘7 Bar Thing’.”
Blooming. One has a feeling of flowering and blooming, a joyful and summery efflorescence that could not come from a mere virtuoso. It need to come from a Musician – there is a difference.
And if you don’t know the difference, check out Myele Manzanza’s One and you will. - The Orange Press (Australia)


Outside of hardcore jazz, albums built around a particular instrument are rare. If they do exist, they are either impenetrably virtuosic, one-trick ponies or for shred-heads only. Which kind of makes them a failure as music, in a way, if the value of music is to move you and me and my uncle Bernard.
When an album is built around the drums, the potential for failure increases. It is a brave artist – one with a true and deep belief in their ability to move their listeners, above and below the waist – who would attempt to carry it off.


In the case of New Zealand drum polymath, Myele Manzanza it helps to be the son of Congolese master percussionist, Sam Manzanza. It also help that Myele Manzanza concieves of the drums as a “talking” instrument, one with a language which can speak to people. “Growing up, music and rhythm was all around me and I understood it from a very early age. Through my father I learnt the language of the drum probably at the same time as I learnt to talk!”
Long a core member of New Zealand’s acclaimed modern jazz-soul group, Electric Wire Hustle, Manzanza has stepped forward with his debut solo album, One.
And as if to lay out the fact that this is no po-faced instrumental professional’s showreel, One starts with the wickedly funny ‘Neighbour’s Intro’ – a jittering polyrhythmic drum solo sandwiched between two phone messages from politely irate neighbours calling to complain about Manzanza’s nocturnal drum practicing.
While we are smirking he smacks us with the roller coaster ride of ‘Big Space’, a 7/4 latin groove that carves its way through a dense, muli-coloured mesh of electro, shooting out the other end with a lovely wordless vocal from Bella Kalolo – reminiscent of 50s sci-fi movie soundtracks, but definitely cruising the Space of Now.
Kalolo features – with lyric this time – on the smooth-as-skin ‘Absent’ next: a cool soul groove built across an angular skeleton. The groove here is typical of Manzanza’s thing – irresistible drum rhythms which are built from highly original architectures: quite beautiful from whichever angle you look at them.
An example is ‘Delay’ which has Manzanza playing with the shapes thrown back at him by reverb echo delay – on the surface quite a simple backbeat but the ripples beneath the waters lend it a shimmering sparkle.
The lovely ‘Elvin’s Brew’ features keys player (and major collaborator) Mark de Clive Lowe. Perhaps namechecking jazz drum colossus Elvin Jones (and Miles Davis‘ Bitches Brew) the track is built on a dreamlike cloud of billowing tom-toms under acoustic keys and electro blips-and-snaps.
Other guests include Myele’s father, Sam Manzanza, NZ’s Ladi 6, Bella Kalolo, Mara TK and Rachel Fraser. International guests include Charlie K from ex-Philadelphia Hip Hop group ‘Writtenhouse’, Canadian vocalist Amenta and James Wylie’s Boston based woodwind section.
The lovely woodwinds form a spectral backwash to the completely transporting ‘City of Atlantis’, their timbre reminiscent of Herbie Hancock‘s psych-funk albums of the 70s such as Speak Like A Child. There are so many flavours here from a similar time and headspace – Stevie Wonder synth squiggles, Weather Report ‘world’ beatz (dig the pan-African percussion of ’7 Bar Thing’), George Duke Rhodes phat phunk.
The old and the new, the acoustic and the digital, soul and jazz, rap and song – all these strands are bound together by the tight yet embracing sinew of Myele Manzanza’s omniscient drums.
He says of One: “Creating this album has been a real process. Each track has it’s own story and developed in it’s own interesting and sometimes unexpected way. This is my first experience in creating my own solo full length body of work and the guest artists were great in helping me to realise my vi­sion. It was also really exciting to work with a woodwind sec­tion in Boston with James Wylie, and see a little fragment of harmony I was messing around with turn into the blooming orchestral parts of ‘City of Atlantis’ and ‘7 Bar Thing’.”
Blooming. One has a feeling of flowering and blooming, a joyful and summery efflorescence that could not come from a mere virtuoso. It need to come from a Musician – there is a difference.
And if you don’t know the difference, check out Myele Manzanza’s One and you will. - The Orange Press (Australia)


Voici de l’electronica tout sauf abstraite. Le Néo-Zélandais Myele Manzanza, inconnu jusqu’à récemment, ose se mêler de jazz et de soul. A l’écoute de son premier album, on se dit qu’il a raison, son expérience de batteur au sein du groupe Electric Wire Hustle lui donnant suffisamment d’élan pour tenter toutes les fusions. Ainsi, On The Move, rencontre dans l’atmosphère d’une voix, d’une basse rutilante, de fûts bien réels, de percus bien virtuelles et d’un clavier bleepy. A ranger du côté du label Tru Thoughts ou de The Cinematic Orchestra (City Of Atlantis, petite perle d’orchestration). - Les Inrocks (France)


Discography

On The Move Single
One LP

Photos

Bio

The future of drums in NZ is firmly in the hands of Myele Manzanza. - NZ Musician Magazine

Myele Manzanzas prowess as a drummer have earned him a reputation as a musician capable of seamlessly traversing jazz, hip-hop, rnb, electronica, broken-beat, soul and world music. For the past six years he has traveled the globe as part of New Zealands acclaimed modern soul group, Electric Wire Hustle and turned heads internationally with his charismatic live performance and technical skill. Now stepping forward with his solo debut Myele reveals another dimension of his musical persona.

After being selected as NZs sole representative at the 2010 Red Bull Music Academy in London, Myele wielded the knowledge he acquired from the tutelage of such masters as Flying Lotus, Roots Manuva, Cluster, Moodyman, Dr Peter Zinovieff and DJ Zinc and crafted his first solo album, ONE. An album which has gained him some serious international recognition and a re-release through UK label BBE this year.

Upon completion of high school Myele was awarded a scholarship to continue his music studies and went on to graduate from the New Zealand School Of Music with a Degree in Jazz performance in 2008. Since then Myele has gone on to become one of New Zealands leading exponents in his field. His dexterity and extensive skill as a drummer see him able to combine styles seamlessly and his performances are always brilliantly captivating.

One of the projects Myele is currently focussing on as a solo artist / band leader is The Myele Manzanza Trio which he assembled to explore his passion for jazz. Re-contextualizing his own originals and contemporary dance, hip hop, pop and soul classics, the Trio's modern and refreshing approach secured their first international appearances alongside LA based maestro Miguel Atwood-Ferguson at his recent debut Australian appearances in Sydney and at the Melbourne International Jazz Festival.

Since these shows The Myele Manzanza Trio has picked up dates in the US and Europe to support the release of Myele's debut solo album, One with new releases coming up in 2014.