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The Tiger

The Student News Site of Elmwood Park High School

The Tiger

The Student News Site of Elmwood Park High School

The Tiger

An Interview: Who Is ‘Manny.’?


Manny. is a small four-piece Chicano indie/alternative band from Denver, Colorado. Since I discovered the bands music, I knew I wanted to write about them. I absolutely love their music. In attempts to expand their audience to high-school students at EPHS, I was able to conduct an interview with the lead singer, Manny Jurado. This interview covers how the band started, his inspirations, some struggles that come with making music, and more.


Lizbeth Casas: Before we start, what is some background information on the band that you’d like to give?


Manny Jurado: I think one thing is that it’s kind of crazy how we all met because we’re all from different backgrounds and places. My guitarist [Oscar], he’s actually from California and he just kind of started as a supporter and was always just supporting [and] streaming the music. One day, he just sent me a random progression of chords to use and the rest is history. Flying over here to do shows and stuff. Another one of my band members is my bassist, Juan. We used to work at a retail store together and again, things happened. We started doing music together and he’s in my band now. My drummer [Alex], last but not least, I played a show with him one time and he’s from a punk hardcore band, a completely different background of music, so we became good friends that way. I blinked and he’s in my band now, so that was pretty interesting.

The image above shows Manny. playing a show at the Mutiny Information Cafe located in Denver. The show was on January 26, 2024.

LC: How did you get the band name? Your actual name is Manny but it is also the band’s name?


MJ: Okay, so it’s a little tricky explaining it because I started off as a solo artist. I started it maybe three years ago and I’ve always just had mini bands just to play shows with. I’ve never had anything really concrete. Now that we have something concrete I kind of describe it as… think of Steve Lacy, or I’m trying to think… Jimi Hendrix, and you know how they are solo artists’ but they still have a band that plays with them? Think of it that way. So we’re still a band.


LC: So because you’re a band now, would you ever change the name or do you think you’re just going  to stick with it because that’s how you started?


MJ: It’s definitely been [a] conversation now, but my concern is that I don’t want it to be a little tricky for people to understand that. So as of right now, it’s staying as Manny.


LC: You’re a pretty small band, what do you want people to think about when they hear Manny.?


MJ: What I want people to think about Manny. is definitely my identity. Just Chicano music, I want [people] to think [about our music] kind of tied around the genre and cultural aspect.


LC: That brings me to my next question, which is actually the fact that you mainly promote your music through TikTok. You also mention that you’re Chicano band. So, besides having Spanish in some songs, do you plan on incorporating more of your culture into music and if so, how?


MJ: Yes, we definitely try to include a lot of our culture because that’s literally our music – that’s in our name of our music, the fact that we are Chicano musicians making this music. We take a lot of inspiration from a bunch of different things on both sides of Chicano. Because we are Mexican-American, we take on inspiration from a lot of traditional Mexican music and [we are] just figuring out how to include that into our music. It’s tricky, but it’s very fun.


LC: How do you think your fans support you? You’re very active with them, would you say being a small band helps you interact with your fans?


MJ: Yeah, definitely. Being [a] small [band] definitely benefits because there’s not a whole lot of people and I love connecting with my supporters and being able to talk to them. It’s definitely a really really amazing thing to do especially when they’re creating something for me whether that’s a drawing or a meme. It touches my heart. 


LC: You’ve released merchandise before, would you ever do that again?


MJ: Most definitely, yeah, that’s the plan. Matter of fact, we’ve made cassette tapes, we’ve made shirts. We do plan on [making] CDs, vinyls even. We’re definitely planning on it.


Above is the cover of “Regresa Ya” which was released in September of 2021. At the time, Manny was just 16 years old.

LC: “Regresa Ya” (Come Back Now) is the first song that you ever released. How did you get the guts to release that song at such a young age?


MJ: It took a lot out of me, really, but I think what really pushed me is just my passion for music. I knew if I never put anything out, I wouldn’t have been able to achieve lots of things, so I think it’s always that first step that was the hardest. Especially because I was never open to my family about it. It took a good few months for them to even find out I’m doing music because I was always super close with what I did. So obviously with music, you just really have to push it out and let everyone know.


LC: You definitely have grown since starting out because you only recently hit 10k monthly listeners on Spotify, how do you feel about that? What’s the next step for the band?


MJ: It feels super surreal because this is like a milestone that I would have never thought I would have accomplished in this short of a time. It just led to so many great opportunities. I feel super grateful and thankful that this many people are listening and enjoying my music, really. The next step of the band is honestly, we are planning a tour as of right now and just creating as much music as we can collectively. [This] is our goal for the year. Tour, making lots of music, and having fun.


LC: With tours, there’s a lot of shows to be played. You actually have one coming up April 13th in your hometown of Denver. How do you feel about playing a show?


MJ: Playing shows is already so amazing because [of] the group [of people], I feel like we’ve built such a great community of people already. There’s almost never been any bad situations at these [shows], knock on wood. Hopefully, not ever. But yeah, it’s great. I’m really excited for this next show.


LC: What other places or venues do you wish to play in?


MJ: Okay, so that [question], I definitely want to play Globe Hall and something a little bit more long-term, but Red Rocks [Park and Amphitheater].


LC: Are those venues located in Denver?


Globe Hall is a live music venue in Denver. It has a capacity of 250 people with standing room only.

MJ: Globe Hall is in Denver. Lots of my favorite artists have played there and Red Rocks [Park and Amphitheater], I think it is in Denver. I’m not sure exactly where it’s at but it’s probably the biggest [venue] besides Ball Arena. I think Ball Arena is another one. [It’s] in Denver, but besides Ball Arena, that’s the biggest venue here in Colorado that you could get.


LC: Would you ever do a world tour of some sort? Would you say that’s a dream of yours?


MJ: That is definitely one of my dreams. It’s already so crazy that I get to go to another state to play music. To go to a different country, [that] would be amazing.


LC: Who would you say inspires you the most?


MJ: I’ll give you two. These are two of my biggest inspirations and the reason I do what I do. When I first started doing music, I was in the seventh grade and I loved Nirvana and just seeing Kurt Cobain play guitar up on stage spoke to me. That made me want to get a guitar and I wasn’t even planning on making music, it just kind of happened. So Kurt Cobain and Nirvana are definitely one of my biggest inspirations. Another inspiration, for the same reason, is Ariel Camacho. I love just corrido music and I think I take a lot of inspiration lyrically and just emotionally from that genre and add it to my own. Especially with Ariel Camacho, he’s the one that really got me into the music.


LC: Would you ever make a corrido? (A corrido is a Mexican song style that would usually tell a story.)


“Tacones” is one of Manny.‘s more popular songs and currently has 2 versions, the original and acoustic. The song was released in June of 2022.

MJ: Yes, it’s actually in the [works]. We’ve made a corrido version of “Tacones” (Heels). We have two different versions of “Tacones”, a metal version and a corrido version. So, stay tuned.


LC: Who’s another Mexican or Hispanic artist that you find inspiration from?


MJ: Inspiration. Oh man, there’s so many Mexican artists that are just incredible. Just for the basics, I think the first one that comes to mind, I was just listening to him, is Vicente Fernandez. The emotion in his voice and the instruments was definitely very inspirational now. Los Panchos and Pedro Infante [are inspirations].


LC: I only recently started listening to you guys from early to mid February and I absolutely fell in love with the song “Piel” (Skin). It’s my favorite song of yours. What was the creative process for that song?


Above is the cover for Manny.‘s song “Piel” (Skin) which was released in August of 2023. Like many Manny. songs, it features lyrics both in Spanish and English.

MJ: That one is actually pretty interesting because you can definitely hear the difference in drums from the other songs. In this song the creative process, I had so much fun with this song, just straight [from] the beginning, you hear just a bunch of noises that I wanted to create. I just took a bunch of stuff and put them backwards and put some ambiance all over it. I like to start off my songs really simple and during the writing process keep it super simple and then in the recording process, have fun with it, add a bunch of other things that I didn’t do in the writing process. In that one, I [had] a drummer, his name was Donovan. He [is] probably the best musician I’ve ever met. He’s just incredibly talented and he [is] the one that laid the drums on that [song] and he did an incredible job.


LC: You have a song with an interesting name, “Shoelace”. What is the meaning behind the title?


“Shoelace” was featured on one of Manny.‘s EP , SECOND HALF. It was released in December of 2022.

MJ: I get that question a lot. So the idea of “Shoelace” was kind of just being wrapped around someone, think of it like wrapped around your finger. Someone is wrapped around your finger. Essentially the meaning [of the song] is that someone has me wrapped around their finger, wrapped around their shoelace. Hence, “My shoelace is tied to her sweater” (Manny., 2022). Basically, she’s dragging me, kind of.


LC: What’s your favorite lyric from that song?


MJ: That one’s an easy one. My favorite lyric on that song is “She’s making it hard to forget her” (Manny., 2022). But that first line, matter of fact ,“My shoelace is tied to her sweater, she’s making it hard to forget her” (Manny., 2022). That one.


LC: You have a song called “Park” coming out on March 8th, by the time this article is out, it will be released. What’s the story behind the song and what inspired you to make it?


The cover of “Park” features Manny laying down next to a guitar. The song is their most recent single and was released March 8, 2024.

MJ: Okay, so the story behind “Park”  is about me and another person, very clearly. So basically, that said person only communicates when they want to, when they feel bored, or lonely, and that’s a common theme throughout the whole song, hence the name “Park”. “Park” was just something that Oscar wrote and I kind of went off of it to create the story. So yes, it is, in fact, a personal story that we’ve been through, and I’m sure a lot of other people can relate to it.


LC: So your inspiration for the song was just the story behind it?


MJ: Yeah, the story. Very common within the Manny. songs. There’s a boy and a girl and it either goes really well or it goes really wrong. This one’s just more specific.


LC: What are your favorite lyrics from it and why?


MJ: My favorite lyrics are transitioning into the verse and the heavier part because it’s structured like it goes very light. No drums, just guitar and singing, and then it goes to this really heavy transition. I love the lyric where it goes like “I’ll be waiting for your call tonight” (Manny., 2024), and then [the beat] drops really hard. [Then] it’s like “I spent some time alone but never like this” (Manny., 2024).


LC: Besides music, what other hobbies or interests do you have?


MJ: Okay, besides music, that’s really hard because music takes pretty much all of my life. I think all of my hobbies are pretty much music related. I think fashion is another one that is a big one that I really get into. Video games is a bigger hobby, [it] takes a lot of my life. What would I say as a hobby? I love picking up just random new hobbies such as drawing. I love sketching. Collecting just random things. I have a collection of Lego’s, a collection of books, just random things.


LC: You said that music takes up most of your time. Do you find it hard to balance your personal life and making music? Is it hard to split those two?


MJ: Most definitely. Sometimes it’s really hard keeping just relationships whether that’s platonic or not, making time for that. I think I feel very guilty, especially spending time with family because sometimes, let’s say there’s an event on top of my event that I have to miss. That’s definitely a harder one and just because [my music is] so time-consuming, I’m not lying when I say it’s literally my life. Whenever I wake up I think of music, when I go to sleep, I think of music. What can I do the next day to improve or promote? So yeah, that’s what that’s like.


LC: When it comes to promoting your music, you said before that it’s pretty difficult. How is it difficult and how do you think you could improve on that?


MJ: Promoting is very difficult because it’s always a hit or miss. You can spend so much time on a promotional video just for it not to get a whole lot of views like it usually would. I think the one thing I can improve on is quality. There’s always room for improvement. Quality, make it a little bit more engaging, get the viewer more engaged into it and yeah, that’s what I can think of right now.


LC: Because you promote so much on TikTok, do you ever think that something would happen where a song of yours would go viral? For example, you’d be known for having a TikTok song. If that were to happen, how would you feel?


MJ: Honestly, I’d feel very mixed about it. Usually when that happens, when a song gets viral on Tiktok, it’s usually just for that song and I would want to take the route where I’m appreciated just overall and not just for one song.


LC: I’d say your most popular song is “Tacones”. Do you also think that your songs are a hit or miss?


MJ: I think so that way too. Yeah, it’s a little different because promoting it can either do really good or really bad. I wouldn’t say any of my songs I feel that way because half of the reason I do music is because I love making music. So in terms of numbers, yes, there’s gonna be some songs that do really good or not so well, but it really doesn’t matter to me because I love creating.


LC: Besides finding it difficult to balance music and personal life, what do you think is another struggle that comes with making music?


MJ: One of the biggest things I’ve been struggling with recently is the writing and recording process. When you’re recording it doesn’t sound the way that you want it to and that could be very very frustrating, especially because you’ve had it in your head and not being able to execute it is just the worst I think. I think maybe that’s a good thing that I get to experiment a little more that way by adding more stuff to try and sound like what I had in my head.


LC: Is there anything else you’d like to say or add? Anything you’re interested in talking about?


MJ: Just one thing – the identity of being Chicano. So me and my band have this collective named Pirata (Pirate). It is a BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) art collective, all art forms, and I’m very excited to be pushing that out because that’s actually the people we’ll be going on tour with. With our collective, our main goal is to just amplify the voices of BIPOC creatives and just give them a platform, being able to book them shows, being able to have a community to just fall back on. That’s definitely what we’re trying to push at the same time being our own little collective.


LC: Would you say that with Pirata you will be growing yourself, but also helping others grow because of the fans that you already have?


Above is an image of the flyer for Manny.‘s show with Pirata coming up April 13. The show will be at D3 Arts in their hometown of Denver.

MJ: Yes, most definitely because we’re open. Let’s say we have a show with Pirata, April 13th is actually one of the shows. We’d have three smaller artists go up on stage with the collective to play and just give them a feel of what it’s like to be on stage to do that kind of stuff, to be involved in the music scene.


LC: How do you find the artists for Pirata? Do you just kind of pick and choose or is it someone that you’re close with?


MJ: Right now we don’t have a pillar of how we go about things in the joining process. Usually what we do is anyone could be Pirata, whether that’s if you’re a BIPOC artist, you’re Pirata. It’s very community based, but usually there’s no requirements. We do have a sign-up form, so anyone can join. As long as you’re a BIPOC artist we have no reason to say no.


LC: For the people that read the article who want to check Manny. out, where can they find you?


MJ: You can find me on all platforms, all social media @Manny_band or you can find me on Spotify, Manny with a period at the end. (Manny.)


Interviewing Manny was such an honor. I definitely recommend listening to the band’s music because they’re great people who proudly represent their Mexican roots. They’re very involved with their fans and community. I personally think their art collective, Pirata, is a great idea. Finally, I’d like to thank Manny Jurado for taking the time to respond and do this interview. It really means a lot to me. Make sure to check the band out on Spotify and listen to “Park” which is out now.


(J. Manny, personal communication, March 5, 2024).

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About the Contributor
Lizbeth Casas
Lizbeth Casas, Staff Reporter
Hi! My name is Lizbeth Casas and I’m a freshman at Elmwood Park High School. I love listening to music. Some of my favorite artists are Twenty One Pilots, Late Night Drive Home, James Marriott. I also love reading William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist and Alice Oseman’s Heartstopper series. 
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