A year after releasing their acclaimed album Don’t Do What We Did, London trio, The Manor (Johnny Dutch, Scotty Stacks and Danny Graft), have managed to pull themselves from the brink of self-imposed retirement to a rather established spot among the flourishing UK Urban hopefuls. Even though I’ve just labelled the three, they’re defining characteristic is their uncategorizable sound which makes them stand out from a host of artists that have jumped out of the cracks to hop on the respective Grime, Garage and Hip-Hop bandwagons that are currently heading full-speed ahead, out of England all over the musical world. These three everyday London lads have managed to encapsulate the sound of where they’re from with the most uncommon approach, while drawing on a host of common influences, all while maintaining a confidently-humble opinion of themselves.
To celebrate their undefinable manner (Pun intended) here’s eight reasons you should look up The Manor’s work, in their own words, as we recently caught up over the phone.
1. Their Album embodies every aspect of The Manor.
DG: ‘It has been a long journey, we did five years grafting, knocking about, we did a lot of free mixtapes. It’s the first time we put a proper album to paper. It’s the first time we had original production we had Yanaku, Drifta, Sweeli, District. For us it was a culmination of five years work, it was brilliant, we’re just enjoying it man.’
JD: ‘We wanted to have a South-East London sound, we didn’t think it had been done yet. With Yanaku, it was the first time we were in a position to make that sound, he’s a South-East boy himself he lives in Bromley near to us, we feel as though we crafted it with him. We made sure it was right before we put it out, but it was just something we needed to do, we needed to make something that was from The Manor. Before it hasn’t really been from The Manor, we’d been putting our own spin on things from other productions, this was really from The Manor, this last album’.
2. They’re versatile because of multiple varied influences.
JD: ‘We’ve got tunes for the Grime fans. We know Grime as well as anyone else. The new tunes do sound very Grimey, there’s bits that do sound Yanaku and a bit more bird-friendly as well, but we know how to adapt to each fanbase’.
SS: ‘That’s the thing, we grew up listening to Grime, Old school Hip-Hop, Garage and House, so I suppose the music we’re making now is a product of the influences we’ve received over the years’.
JD: ‘My influences are Paul Weller, Jamiroquai, Common… I think any artist worth their salt is only a culmination of their influences and their experiences and I feel as though we are not scared of bringing our influences and experiences to the table whereas other artists may not like to bring up the fact that they listened to Five back in ’98 (“They’d shit themselves” – Danny), we listen to everything and we want to bring all of that to the table.’
3. They’re 3 different personalities that represent similar but different backgrounds.
SS: ‘I think that’s why it works. Although we’ve got very different personalities, we all come from the same area and similar backgrounds. We talk about the same things, we all put our spin on it, but we all put represent a different sub-culture within the bigger picture which is our local area.’
4. They’re paradoxically laid back and serious about their work.
DG: ‘Every tune to a certain extent is a bit of a piss take. No one’s that serious, if you’re making a song, there are serious elements, you’ve got emotional connections to what you’re saying, but you’re making music. You ain’t sitting there in an office, you ain’t sitting there at a desk, you’re making something that is a laugh, something that means something to you but in the end of the day you’re making music, it ain’t serious’.
JD: ‘You’re always striving to make a song, it’s not about having a hit, it’s about having a song that people can get together with in 20/30 years at a family barbecue or Christening and it gets everyone on the dancefloor. That is my sole goal, as any artist it should be, to get people to get people together’.
DG: ‘Make a Panda isn’t it?’
5. They streamed their album on Pirate radio.
JD: ‘Nostalgia is a huge part of our brand. Looking back to the 90s and bringing people back to a good place. Pirate radio is something that hasn’t really been manipulated or exploited by people going forward and we thought to ourselves “Let’s try make something credible on Pirate radio.” Our songs altogether may not make as much sense and we needed something to bridge it together and we thought Pirate radio would be the right medium to do that. The night before we released it [The Album], we told all of our fans that we were going to stream it so they had a chance to listen to the album. We thought the best way, as seen as we had the Pirate radio skits [Between songs], was to go to a website and put it out on Pirate radio, so we did it that night and before we knew it, we had thousands of listeners, listening to our show which was good. When we’re pressed for time we come up with some mad ideas’.
6. Despite recognition from their idols, they’re focusing on developing their own generation.
SS: ‘We’ve got our heroes from the garage days, your MJ Coles and your Wookies and obviously Zed Bias. Mike Skinner’s been a massive influence. As much as it’d be nice to collaborate with those people, we want to meet people like us, who have been influenced by those people and that’re now making music that’s a product of that influence and they’re the people we want to collab with. We wanna collab with the next Mike Skinners, the next Wookie, the next MJ Cole.
That music was hugely popular. Yanaku, his idol is Zed Bias. I’m sure there’s lots of people who’re following their passion now because of the passion that was created by those artists that they idolised in their youth. It’s just a matter of us finding those people.’
7. They’re representing London and the UK their own way.
DG: ‘Grime to me, is a London sound. People have started to look at London now. That’s all it is for us, it’s a London thing. It’s a London sound, it’s influenced by London music, Grime, Garage, whatever. People are now looking at London’.
JD: ‘At the same time, at gigs in the past, we’ve had people down from Leicester, Bolton, Scotland and all sorts of places… There’s a like-minded bunch of people out there, a lot of people that feel the same way we do and we’re talking about the same things they’re talking about. We wanna bring everyone to the table. Let’s have a party with everyone across the UK that thinks like us’
8. The Manor is bigger than the trio, it’s about the fans.
JD: ‘Our fans are our family. 100%’
SS: ‘People see the videos, they see the characters that we’ve made out of our mates and they realise that our fans are The Manor. As much we’re The Manor on the face of it, we’re ALL The Manor, all the like-minded people are The Manor so, as much as our fans are our fans and we love them for the support they give us, they can come down to our shows, they can be in the videos. They represent The Manor as much as we do, we’re just the voice of it, but The Manor is a lot wider than the three of us. We’ve had some laughs with them. We love all of them, they’re a massive part of what they do’.
With a developed and recognized sound to call their own, as well as a number of talented producers to go along with their clever and entertaining lyrics, plus a busy festival schedule including a stint at Wireless, The Manor will soon be up there with the idols that have had such a strong role in developing their sound.