Interviews

Dean Manning chats his new album and the art of sincere surrealism

Dean Manning is a unique artist. Seamlessly blending surreal emotive landscapes with sincere experience Dean captures something special in both his music and his art.

We caught up with Dean recently to chat about his incredible new album Sunday Mountain and the confluence of music and art.

Dean Manning

We caught up with Dean Manning to chat about his debut album Sunday Mountain and the influences of Greek musical culture.

HAPPY: Hey Dean, how’s it going? What are you up to at the moment?

DEAN: Hi there. Sitting at the blue lino kitchen table drinking coffee. We have rehearsals this afternoon. I’m also about to move apartments so I’ve been painting the new place.

HAPPY: We’ve loved Sunday Mountain! What is it like releasing an album that feels so hand-crafted and precious?

DEAN: Once an album is finished my work is kind of done so I find it easy letting it go. It’s time for the music to connect with people.

HAPPY: Tell us a bit about your musical upbringing in Greece.

DEAN: I was born and raised in Australia. I began playing guitar when I was about 10. We also had a piano in the house so I taught myself that. I started writing songs in my early teens. Justin Stanley & I were high school friends. We were in a band together playing parties and school dances.

HAPPY: How did an instrument like the ‘Laterna’ make it onto your album?

DEAN: There’s a few of them around town still today. They have such a weirdly captivating sound and you can hear them from blocks away much like a Mr Whippy van. They’re beautiful looking instruments too, the way they are individually decorated. I painted a picture of one a few years ago.

HAPPY: I’ve been admiring some of you’re art. You seem to capture some very sincere moments in a surreal way. How does this come about?

DEAN: That’s interesting – sincere surrealism. My paintings just come out that way. Maybe it’s the subject matter or because I’m self taught. The black & white super 8 films do owe a debt to early French cinema.

HAPPY: What came first the painting or the music?

DEAN: They came together. My parents realized early on I wasn’t the academic type so I had guitar and art craft lessons. I took to them both.

HAPPY: Your album travels from melancholic intimate moments to soaring transcendent heights. How important is diversity in an album?

DEAN: They’re the kind of records I like to hear, albums with dynamics within and between the songs. I think they make for interesting listening. I like how soundtrack albums shift between artists and styles.

HAPPY: Was there some divine, breakthrough moment when music, life and purpose all come together and made sense to you?

DEAN: I do remember a particular house party the band played at in high school. It was a perfect evening of pure joy with a little chaos and mayhem. I remember looking at Justin mid set and both of us laughing ‘yeaaaaaah!!!’. We were 15 or 16. I think I glimpsed a way of life doing something I loved that was a little crazy and fun.

HAPPY: Who or what most inspired you when writing Sunday Mountain?

DEAN: I guess the biggest influence was moving to Athens and being in a new place. The album started out as one thing but ended up something else.

HAPPY: What does the future look like for Dean Manning?

DEAN: Oh gosh bright I hope. I’m dragging my feet about organizing shows. It’s just been so hot but we’ve been rehearsing. We’ll be out & about here in Europe in November and hopefully in Australia in December. I’ve started to think about the next art project. I could easily just hole up and paint.

HAPPY: Thanks!