What got you into making music?
Hi! Thanks for having me on today. Music… well, I’ve been playing music my whole life. Born in St. Lucia in the Caribbean, my father Ras Bonte put me on drums when I was three years old so I got an early start with the rhythm of things. Then after moving to New Zealand in ’98 where I now reside, I grew up in the Metal scene. Playing in various metal bands including playing drums and writing for the Enyptian mythology inspired, progressive, ambient, technical-death-metal band Athenic, and guitar and vocals in the intense Word Of God. Both very brutal and extreme musical outputs.As well as that, I started to develop a skill on the acoustic guitar, creating melodic songs, singing and playing together. This developed over time and now is one of my main instrumental ways of playing my music on a softer note.
In 2017 I went to MAINZ, an audio engineering college here in Christchurch City, NZ. This gave me all the skills I needed to record and produce my first solo album ‘Check It’ (2017) a rap and song album. Since then, I have been improving my mixing skills and writing skills as I moved forth into the subsequent years of creation!I still mix and produce all of my own music.
My studio is called Paradise Studios, NZ.
What has been your best experience musically so far?
Awww, it’s really hard to say. I have had some really wonderful experiences around music. From more mainstream experiences to do with fame and grandeur, to truly beautiful smaller scale experiences, private moments where music was the wave on which the beautiful moment unfolded.But signing this worldwide distribution deal with Hood&Associates definitely impresses my indie artist sensibilities.
Tell us about being a pop dance artist in your city?
A pop/dance artist eh? I suppose this question is tailored to me! Haha. I am a Mixed genre artist here in Christchurch, New Zealand. When I decided to begin my solo artist career back in 2017, there was no-one around me doing it. No-one in my city that was really pushing themselves forward working on a solo platform with produced music in the realms of pop/rap (the two major popular genres). We were all coming out of, or still in bands. So I really had no-one to base my steps on apart from the biggest artists I knew who had successfully done just that. Those two artists were Michael Jackson and Drake. So I looked at drake for the rap inspiration and MJ for the pop and I think it had it’s pros and cons. I really had to package myself and advertise and push that package in my own city which was a bit uncomfortable at first because people know you as a person, not as a product. But I’ve just persevered through everything and continue to grow and develop. Now, I’m the most prolific artist in my city and in my country I think, with the amount of material I’ve released since 2017 in terms of Albums, Singles, Music Videos, Promo Videos etc… I’ve believed in myself and my ability to entertain a big stage and big crowds with my music and so that is just what I’ve been preparing for.
What are some wild stories you have experienced?
Wild stories? Gosh… not sure where to go with that one LOL! Well, I love music from the electronic to the acoustic, from the preplanned to the impromptu.
- I have played a wonderful open mic in Harlem, NL, with a good friend of mine, saxophonist Jeroen Kraaij (who features on ‘Night With Pa’ 2018) where the band was totally fresh and made up of mostly women which was really cool. We played ’The Blissful March’ in a sort of reggae type style off the cuff and it went off!
- As I was running around Amsterdam one night on my own, meeting people and sharing my music and links with them all, I came across a group of 3 girls, we sat and talked and when I showed them my music one of them said “Oh, actually I know your music!… Actually I really like your music!!!” I was blown away, and super chuffed. Took a photo with them, my first international recognition moment.
- Playing Holi Festival 2020 in my hometown was a blast, the crowd was roaring! We played ‘Free Bird’ among others, and it juuuust went OFF! I’ve never had that many people just raving hard to my music. It was truly blessed and I gave it my all. Super colourful event with coloured powder being blown off in cannons etc.. Fantastic.
What current projects do you have available?
I have a large and growing catalogue of music available online. On all the streaming platforms under my name ‘Manu Francois’. Many of them are current, I tend to play the music from the past couple years the most with occasional throwback to earlier works. But I have also been performing with much joy songs that are on the project to come! Not yet released. I think this is a good way of building hype and recognition of a song before it is released. These songs are Festival Pop and I love to perform them.
What shows have you done recently?
I played Mix Festival, NZ over New Years 2020/21 which was an absolute blessing. Firstly, to be playing a festival show over the New Year period was a first for me and very exciting, and coupled with the gratitude of being able to mix and mingle freely in this festive way while the whole world was on serious lock-down, this made that experience quite special indeed.I am also playing hip/hop shows in my city, bringing a lively and positive energy to the hip/hop scene here and sharing the stage with many of my fellow artists.
What makes you stand out as an artist?
I think the main thing that separates me from the pack is my diverse range of music and expression. I rap/sing/produce/dance/MC as well as play instruments. So you may find me playing sweet guitar music in the market, ripping the mic at a hip/hop event or dancing with the youth while I perform pop songs for the vibey crowd. Apart from that, they talk about my style, I think that sets me apart as well… but I won’t speak long on that.
What are your up coming big moves to mention?
I wouldn’t mention them. I like to keep my moves to myself and my team until I execute them. You know how it can be, tell your plans and someone comes and throws a spanner in it! I have music to release though, really looking forward to and working steadily on that.I would love to be picked up by a record label and given a bunch of money to create and record with.. Taken all over the world to perform festivals and stages. Yep, till then, I’ma keep going hard like I told you that I will be.. Body is the lamp and the Genie is the real me!
Where can people find your music (links)?
Anywhere you search Manu Francois, you will find my music. I’m the only artist by that name and I’ve got plenty out there to discover, so get acquainted!
What’s your social media handles?
I’m on instagram: @manufrancois98Facebook under: ‘Manu Francois’ and ‘Manu Francois – Artist’I’m also on Cameo, so if you would like a special shout out or any advice, that is where you can reach me for certain and I will be happy to oblige.
Anything else you want to tell us about yourself as an artist?
As an artist, I’m coming for the top spot. I will perform my way to the top because that is what I have my eyes set on. I hope and expect that working with Hood&Associates is going to bring a great stream of fans to my music online, and bring my music to the great streams of fans out there. This has been the mission so far. But I will keep evolving and putting out the best music that I can, I will continue to work and collaborate with other artists worldwide and keep building connections and helping those I can how I can.
Thank you for having me on!