Music

Jonah Manzano talks ‘Story of Our Life’, his podcast, and advice for new musos

Jonah Manzano is a down-to-earth muso known for his gorgeous crop of acoustic tracks, his podcast, and his loveable attitude.

Jonah Manzano recently melted hearts with his track Story of Our Life; a touching ode to his wife. Since then, he’s been busy with his podcast, live streaming performances, and writing more tunes.

We caught up with the artist to learn more about his influences and motivations in the creative sphere. Take a look.

Jonah Manzano

HAPPY: Hey there Jonah! Whereabouts do you find yourself today?

JONAH: I can’t believe it’s over a year has passed since the day I lost my job in the travel and tourism Industry. All I wanted was to break the record of staying with the same employer for 15 years but unfortunately, COVID-19 affected tourism so badly, so I was one of the employees to get made redundant in March 2019. I stayed with them for 13 years! I can’t believe it.

There’s a bright side to that as that gave me more time, opportunity to record, write more songs at home. Upgraded all my recording studio equipment. I could not do it having to work full time from Monday – Friday assisting incoming tourists. Just last month I finally got a job working from home! It’s what I always wanted apart from making music, writing songs, performing at wedding events, busking, and doing a lot of online cover songs.

 

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HAPPY: Massive congrats on the release of your single Story of Our Life! What is the inspiration behind the tune?

JONAH: Oh thanks! It’s really a big commitment to write a song especially when you have no one to assist you. However, the way I write any song, especially this song is about the life experience, inspiration, and facts about what happens along the way in my life. I really can’t connect with the song just by writing it without seeing the big picture of why I am writing this in the first place. Before I wrote this, I had to listen to different styles of music, perhaps 5-10 songs a day repeatedly to see if I like the song. Story of Our Life is like a series of events from the original song I wrote as well titled I Stall, which was the song I wrote together with my wife Yzel.

HAPPY: How would you say your personal life has contributed to your sound?

JONAH: It has had a big impact, my personal life, in terms of making music. I just don’t know how to write songs without my personal life getting involved. It’s the main root of my music. I usually give some hints with lyrics I write for an audience to figure out, some of them can be obvious.

 

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HAPPY: You and your wife have a podcast, Perfect but not perfect … tell us a bit about that

JONAH: Perfect but not perfect is a podcast that I started in August this year. I wanted to be more expressive to my audience and changed a bit of what usually do. Most of the time I would go live on Facebook, YouTube and on Instagram and to try out a different approach to my audience it would captivate who I am really. The very first episode I published is titled Writing my first song. I had a discussion with my wife Yzel and believe it or not she gave me the idea of doing a podcast together.

She asked to buy a book called All About Us from Amazon and yep, it’s free delivery haha. And she said why don’t we do a podcast together based on the book that has questions ready for the couple. Our very first video podcast on Spotify where we had to be in a separate room so as if we were far away with split-screen, she asked questions from the book, I answered them, and she also answered those questions. No right or wrong and no judging. It was fun doing it as it’s kinda felt like a therapy session for both of us. They say you won’t know your partner until you live with them. I am still learning more from her.

 

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HAPPY: How would you describe your sound?

JONAH: I have been a fan of the pop band called The Moffatts since I was in high school, but I try to not make it too obvious as a musician myself. I learned the majority of their songs on guitar and piano. They’re not a band anymore, however, this group called Music Travel Love consists of two members Bob and Clint who I can’t believe is one of my followers on Instagram plus their brother Dave. All I am saying is my inspiration came from them.

I got the energy to learn more songs because of them. Without them maybe I wouldn’t be here. I am more into pop, gospel, and the natural sound of acoustic guitar and piano. I used to be in a band where we performed in many places like pubs, bars, restaurants, hotel lobbies, weddings and more. So many of them that I lost count. We split up as everyone has changed their direction in life. It’s hard to maintain a band.

HAPPY: What is something you would change about the Australian Music industry?

JONAH: The Australian Music Industry was badly affected by COVID-19. A lot of on-hold tours and cancelled events that did not even proceed. Most musicians rely on these events. Now we are living in a world where the internet exists. Anything can be done from home. For example, you can do a live lounge style from home, plug in your guitar, microphone and be ready to go. It sounds easy but it’s more complicated when broadcasting it online.

Independent artists like myself don’t have management assistance to run the business. As a matter of fact, you run everything from the scratch. From building a website, choosing the right profile photo for your audience, getting the promotion, booking events. Now I am a member of APRA AMCOS which they have lots of tips, ideas for Australian Independent Artists. They also provide a service for all the original songs you perform for royalty collection and many more discounts and stuff like that. I like to see more support for independent artists who are just starting out.

 

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HAPPY: Is there any advice you would have for musicians on how to use their personal experience as inspiration for their sound?

JONAH: This topic is huge as in I can go on forever. Well, you see I am doing private tutoring at home, teaching guitar and piano mostly. That was my side job while I was working in tourism. I also taught some young people in our church. I built my experience from there. I learned that every person I taught has different needs, wants, styles. For example, a student wanted to learn Sweet Child o’ Mine right away where I would usually say, stay with basics, always with basics, chords like D, G, C, A to just memorise it on a guitar.

The passion for music should not be temporary. It should be there from the first day you pick up the guitar or play keys on the piano. It’s like part of your life. You need to be connected to your community or audience. That’s the whole point of music, let them feel like they’re with you. It’s not about yourself but it’s about them. You deliver the message through music, to inspire them.

Most of the musicians I’ve met like to play and sing because they like what you play, but then months after they just give up because it’s not their passion or not their priority.

Lastly, be yourself and grab ideas from the music you listen to, and the ideas will come out naturally. I don’t like to play and sing to impress my friends but rather I want them to feel the art of music what’s behind it. It’s hard to understand this but this will be natural as time goes by.

 

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HAPPY: What can we expect in the future for your music?

JONAH: I will write more songs, that is for sure. My dream is to get my music heard and get involved in a movie! It is a big dream but hey we all have dreams in the back of our minds. I would really love to sing with my favourite band whoever the band members. No one knows this yet, but I joined The Voice Australia for next season, I have not heard anything yet as I believe their application is still open so let’s see if I would make it or not.

I won’t really get disappointed if I don’t get it. I find it more challenging if I don’t. Also, I am starting to receive a few requests for wedding events and music festivals but that would be probably next year. COVID-19 still slowing everything down.

HAPPY: Thank you, Jonah!

 

Listen to Story of Our Life below: