Manga Saint Hilare – Interview Recap

DOI: 19/11/2020

Prod Rage, Jay R DC and fungiFerg spoke to Manga Saint Hilare upon various subject matters whilst unveiling a plethora of insightful understandings from his cognitive processes.

Credits Adam Horton

Discussing ‘Make It Out Alive’:

“That’s all that I’ve been doing, making sure people hear that. I don’t like dropping projects on people, you work on it for so long and you just promote it for a week, it’s more about just making sure people hear the music. It’s a mad time right now, everyone’s distracted, I’m not Drake so it’s not like I’ve got some big super budget, I’ve got to keep pushing it every day.”

Jay R DC: “What influenced the whole project itself?”

“Just surviving in this world, being yourself, making sure you remain who you are. That’s what ‘Make It Out Alive’ means, don’t let the world kill you basically.” fungiFerg continues and explains that the body of work is significantly relevant on so many levels with past, present and future circumstances.

With the album dropping last April, there hasn’t been any opportunity for it to be performed live on stage to an audience, to experience a beautiful reception and reaction. However, he said: “The difference is I guess, you just have to find different ways, I didn’t get to do shows but I had to try remix it and find out what’s happening in its way cos otherwise you are just complaining.” Manga self produced an EP following the album named ‘Interlude Deluxe’ which draws on specific tracks from the original release of ‘Make It Out Alive’ and prior projects.

Aligning with the explanation above, adaptions had to occur to the time which would have been spent performing his album live by being creative in alternative approaches: “One of the main things is that I take a long time making my projects, obviously work on it for so long I can’t just go – ‘ah well it’s done’ – or a – ‘quick EP ting’ – or whatever, so basically no matter what happened I had to find something to do…” such as designing videos to advertise the album merchandise, more promotional packages, entertaining the fan base and allowing further resonation with the people.

fungiFerg was appreciative of how everything ties together, a product of dedicated effort over a period of time truly paying off. Mentioning the artwork, videos and distinctly, how the lines in the logo of the album reminds him of 205 turbos and old school 90s cars. Manga expanded on this by saying: “Obviously we had to try create something that’s like ‘Make It Out Alive’, just getting through. I wanted something that encapsulated that and that was a moped, I used to ride peds when I was younger. It’s a metaphor for getting through, just keeping it moving so that’s where the ped and racing theme came through.”

Responding about whether there is anything in the pipeline:

“Na not really you know, to be fair no, I’m just doing this, I can’t really make a new project because nothings happened, life hasn’t changed, I said this before it takes me a long time to write. You have to live a life. If your just making lyrics about lyrics and how good you are and all that stuff, that’s calm, but after a while, I’m a bit older, I can’t really do that as well.” Manga is providing meaningful lyrical content based on happenings affecting himself and points of relevance.

Question from Danny Riley: “What’s the best festival or event that you have done in the past?”

“Probably my headline shows, my tour, to be fair I don’t know if I ever thought I could do that, put on my own show and it sell out. Luckily I’ve done three headline shows and they’ve sold out, three and a tour that I’ve done by myself. The vibe was good, the people enjoyed it, I got to put on the artists I wanted to, like you say it’s an accomplishment, I felt like I done this, so that was probably the best. You do shows for whoever and obviously they’re sick but I feel like that was meaningful. My ting, even when I first stepped out on the stage, even though like I said I put on a show myself, I looked at it and I knew it was sold out, when I saw it I was like – ‘oh shit, there’s actually people here’ – not just my bredrins and that. It sounds dumb, it does sound silly but you just think – ‘no actually…’ – you deep it, you think – ‘shit!’ – peoples paid their hard earned money, they’ve come out, they’re enjoying it. That means the most man.”

Prod Rage: “Have you been lining anything up off the back of your project to tour or anything like that next year?”

“Na man cos we don’t know what’s going on. I don’t have an agent or a manager or anything like that so my tings not really as smooth, I can’t plan cos we don’t know what’s going on. I’ve just got to try and figure it out. If everything is still upside down like it is, I think when the venues open back up I don’t think artists like myself are gonna be the first to get in there. Obviously it’s gonna have to be a limited capacity and all these type of tings so I feel like the big artists are gonna have to do smaller venues at half capacity. Whereas my ting, if I do my venues that I would do at half capacity, it’s not worth opening. I’m kinda at the mercy now of what’s happening, I ain’t got a clue right now so I just have to firm it. But I’m not really thinking about it, think of some music, sitting down, making couple riddims, see how it goes.”

Touching on merchandise and the input he holds in that:

“We did everything man, me and my bredrin Steve, from day one we do everything, me and him. He’s an art director by trade, that’s like my best friend, so we’ve been doing this since 06. The merch and all that jazz, we’ve been doing merch for time so basically, I do it or he does it. Where he’s a designer by trade, he can sharpen it up, so I’d make a t-shirt and get it printed or he’ll do it or we’ll do it together, but basically we’ve just been doing this since around 06. I’m editing an advert now. It’s our self, it’s not outsourced. Whatever I think is cool I’m luckily enough that I know how to make it come to life. A lot of people then when their team does it or their management or budget, it’s restrictive, whereas luckily this is what we like doing, I like this, I like chatting shit and bussing jokes. A lot of artists can’t get that across just cos simply they don’t know how to, not even in a bad way.” Moreover, Manga mentions that others may not possess the same skills within certain software applications like Photoshop as he does which can offer another dynamic to the overall talent of an artist. Concluding on this he states: ‘the aesthetic, the message and the art to the merch’ is a part of the whole work.

“I haven’t got the biggest fan base in the world but I realised that I don’t have to have the biggest fan base in the world, I would like to just have people who actually give a shit about what mans doing.” Grateful for those who value the effort and dedication assigned to each aspect of work.

Having worked with the likes of Novelist, Murkage Dave, Grim Sickers and Wiley; Manga Saint Hilare answered upon the best experience he has had working with an artist:

“I don’t really have one to be fair man. I know some people that get in studio and they just enjoy it, I dunno man, I don’t really have that feeling if that makes sense. To be fair I just work with my bredrins, see people like Murkage Dave or Novelist or Wiley or Blay Vision, obviously Lewi B who I work with a lot. I don’t get in the studio when it’s on my phone, I’m a fan of their ting anyway. P Money, P’s my guy as well, but it’s not really a ting where I’m so excited to work, I’m just a fan of their ting. So when I’m creating a song I just want to enhance it. See like the one spoken about ‘Not Around’ with P Money, I wrote the song and I said: ‘yeah man P would sound sick on it’ – and I’m just lucky enough that I know him and we can get it done.

“Studio for me is not fun, I don’t really have fun in the studio. It’s a chore, for me, until it’s like done, until the whole things done and the idea I had in my head is out, that’s not till the end, by the time you lot see the video. But I know some people who enjoy studio like Wiley, he’s a person who enjoys studio a lot, he lives in studio, he loves that, that’s not really my ting, I’m not a studio person. I write myself, I write in my house, I record in my house, I just do it by myself, so that vibe of like – ‘oh yeah we’re all together’ – I don’t really do that, I just keep it in my house. Some people thrive in that more (a studio environment) P Money’s one of them, Wiley’s one of them, there’s people I know that are sick in the studio and I’m just not one of them. I just need to take my time and do it.

“I’m not booking a studio when everyone’s sitting in there and making a tune, not for my projects. I have it planned out already, I start with a title from ages ago, I know what my next project is gonna be called, I get the beats, I put it in order and I write all my bits, very organised, it’s mad OCD. Some people have it different, again I keep going back to Wiley cos I’ve done bare work with him but his ting different, he goes studio and see what happens. I need to know cos otherwise I get lost and I don’t really work well like that. ‘Make It Out Alive’ for example, by the time I’ve wrote all of it and I’ve recorded all of it, I’ve then just got the gaps and then I’d say I know – ‘okay Blay is gonna go on this one, I wanna get Gibbs on this one, I wanna get P Money on this one, I wanna get Novelist’ – I work like that, that’s how I do it. For me it keeps a more concise project, whereas some people just go in the studio all the time and record record record, then they’ll say: ‘let me put my project together’ – so they’ll draw from songs they’ve done and then say: ‘okay, here’s the intro, here’s the single’. Izzie Gibbs, Izzie’s my brother, he’s like that, he records all the time and he just puts the projects together after, everyone works different, but my ting, I need to know exactly where I’m starting and ending, that’s how I do it.”

Comments articulating the geolocation of Grime:

“I feel like the good thing that happens now is that people can be from where they are from and still make it. I think people used to think that you had to come to London to start. I’m from North West London and I live in South now, but all the Grime was coming from East, Bow, so when I got involved in Deep (Roll Deep) and I wasn’t from Bow that was like a big leg up, everyone was like – ‘ah yeah that’s it now’. I understand why cos obviously that’s where all the music comes from but even in London people were thinking you had to be from a certain place but obviously that got broken bare times with Skepta and Chip and everyone North, there’s all different bits. Obviously you lot are far away, I’m in a main city allegedly so it takes a longer time to spread. It doesn’t matter where you are, just build up your ting and keep going.”

2013: Manga backstage at The Big Weekend with Roll Deep members J2K and Brazen – credits @rolldeepofficial

Upmost gratitude to Manga Saint Hilare for taking the time to speak to us, being immensely detailed in the feedback to questions, it is greatly appreciated! Follow and support his work in the icons beneath as well as voting him as ‘BEST GRIME ACT’ in the MOBO AWARDS, link also below!


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