Mano Le Tough
Niall Mannion has been rocking the “Mano Le Tough” moniker for just three short, yet highly productive, years (after wisely never considering "Tough as Nialls" as I suggested). In that time, he has brought his self-described "Folkal House" to dancefloors from his original home in the Irish seaside village of Greystones to his adopted one in the decidedly non-seaside Germanic dance village of "Berlin". There he has infiltrated the upper echelon of that city's famous nightlife culture, becoming a regular at Robert Johnson and Panorama Bar, while releasing singles on some of dance music's most famous labels (Dirt Crew, Tensnake's Mirau and Ben Watt's Buzzin Fly). After a very rapid ascent through clubland, he's finally given himself license to dip into his first artist album, Changing Days, full of 'songs' (don't call them tracks), but let's let him explain it, shall we?
I heard this Kristian Beyer of Âme has said of you, "Thanks to Mano Le Tough, I have no fears for the future of House." When I first read that quickly, I thought he said "my house" and that you also worked as a contractor and helped him build his home and I really liked that story.
(Laughs) No, definitely not.
If your house music were a house, what kind of house would your house music be?
A country house!
How did you approach making the album as opposed to just a single release? Were there specific themes you were trying to convey?
I knew I wanted to do an album for a while but I wasn't sure if I was ready, but I just made an active decision to do it. I knew I wanted something that was quite coherent as opposed to just a bunch of dance songs, so I just started writing music for the album about a year and a half ago and I didn't put any limits on myself in terms of what the songs are gonna be like. I just made about forty sketches of songs and the ones that fit together best, I kept working on.
When doing vocals for the album were other singing DJs such as Matthew Dear or Seth Troxler an inspiration to you?
I had written a lot of songs when I was younger and then started producing a lot of electronic music so I just kinda rediscovered it and it felt quite natural actually.
You've said that you "make songs as opposed to tracks" which I can appreciate. Expand on that for us.
The club thing is a huge part of what I do obviously. In some way I try to use the club medium but still want the reach and emotional connection of a proper song.
I was a big fan of the Baikal 12" you released on your label Maeve last year. How do you and The Drifter plan on 'intoxicating' us this year?
We'll definitely put out another 12" later this year. We don't really have a master plan; just do some music for the club. There'll definitely be one by summer, or spring.
I've read that you got your name from an old band, not that you consider yourself that tough. So by the same token, I imagine The Drifter as someone who's never left home.
(Laughs) Yeah, something like that. If he starts getting booked for more gigs, he might leave town.
If we're taking opposite nicknames then mine would be Tino Le Pussy. You know, because I'm incredibly tough.
Speaking of toughness, I hear that we were both big fans of INXS growing up. Which songs or albums were your favorites?
Ohhhhhh, what was it called?? The really famous one… (starts to Google, but remembers) “Need You Tonight”!! I remember I was only like seven or eight and I taped it and my mom came into my room while I was listening to it and was like, "Oh, you're a teenager now" and I thought "YESSSS!"
"Son, today you are a man. Your father and I are ready to give you INXS' whole back catalog and everything by Duran Duran."
What do you miss about Ireland? Do you keep walking into shops asking for Dublin Coddle & getting strange looks?
(Laughs) I miss a pint of Guinness sometimes. You can always go home but by the time you leave Ireland, you're sick of it again, ya know? There's pluses and minuses to living anywhere obviously but everything is pretty connected these days so it's not like moving to New York in the early 1900s. You're only a Skype away and you can actually see someone while you're talking to them.
If we only knew how close we were to the technology in Back To The Future II when it came out, maybe we wouldn't have hated on it so hard at the time.
As a kid, videophones were so unbelievable! The future just sneaks up on you.
Indeed it does.
Written by: Chris Tarantino
Photographed by: Tobias Wirth