Name: Adam Bernard Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome. See my complete profile
When Patrick Morrissey, the production half of Brooklyn tribal pop duo Manicanparty, brought home actual mannequins earlier this year, singer Jessica Corazza’s reaction wasn’t entirely enthusiastic.
She remembers thinking, halfheartedly, “Oh, OK, we’re doing this. Cool.”
In actuality, Corazza never imagined the props would be brought into the fold, but Morrissey had been searching for them for a while, and found just the right inspiration at a music festival. “I saw these mannequins,” he remembers, “and they weren’t using them, and they had LED lights, and I was like fuck it, we’ll just take em.”
Although many may feel the props are appropriate because of the band’s name, Manicanparty’s moniker actually came from a friend’s random suggestion, and they chose it due in large part to the fact that, as Morrissey notes, “It makes no sense at all.” He adds, “It wasn’t until after we came up with the name that we were like, alright, might as well play with the name a little bit.”
For Corazza, playing with the name involved finding a way to make it represent what she and Morrissey are doing with their music. She explains, “Everything that you hear that is pop has to be this dance-y beat, and there’s nothing very complex, lyrically, about it, so for me it was kind of like we’re making fun of that, because we’re trying to create this new type of pop music that is fresh to our ears, but can still be considered commercial.”
That new type of pop music is tribal pop, which incorporates tribal drums and rhythms, with pop songwriting and sensibilities.
Manicanparty released the culmination of their tribal pop creativity last month with their self-titled debut EP. The journey to that release, however, began during Morrissey’s and Corazza’s high school years in Minnesota, when the two met due to mutual interests. After going their separate ways for the purpose of higher education, they reunited during a summer at home from college, at which point they decided to write together. Morrissey remembers that after their initial sessions, “We just kinda realized we had something special, so we decided to collaborate from there on out.”
During Morrissey’s senior year at college in Hartford, CT, Corazza moved to Connecticut to join him. After living in Hartford for a year the duo received an offer to move to Brooklyn. Accepting that offer would prove to be a turning point in their careers, and the development of their tribal pop sound.
“Now our manager (Jason Salmon) owns the studio that we’re working out of,” Morrissey explains, “and we really have to thank him for giving us the opportunity to craft our sound, because we’re literally in there every day.” Morrissey continued, adding, “Originally we were making beats on Logic, (it was) bedroom music, and then our manager brought us into his studio and it opened up the sound. We were able to sample live drums. We were able to use really nice mics for vocals, and a nice live room, and all these synthesizers.”
The first song they recorded in the studio was “Rebels,” and according to Morrissey, “That just completely opened up an avenue for us as far as where we can go with this group.” He adds that additionally, “That marked the first time we were like OK, this is something we can run with, and that we really are vibing out with, the whole tribal thing, the whole idea of bringing in eight to ten of our friends to record gang vocals on all these songs.”
Corazza explains “Rebels” isn’t just a statement musically, it’s a statement lyrically of a band deciding to create its own path. “Everyone was saying, ‘you guys have a really unique sound, you should put it more inside of a box.’ That really frustrated me, coming from a songwriter’s perspective. I didn’t like the idea of someone trying to put my music in a box. They still liked it, how I was writing, they still liked the sound, but it wasn’t suited for what was considered commercially popular.”
Those comments were going through Corazza’s mind while writing “Rebels.” The result is a woman, and a band, taking a stand. “I’m gonna write how I wanna write,” Corazza states, “and if people like it, they like it, and if they don’t, they don’t. I’m not gonna be put inside a box.”
Morrissey feels it’s that passion that draws people to the music of Manicanparty. “I think that’s where you find what connects people to the music,” he says, “how emotional it is, and how moving the music is.”
Mannequins are stationary objects (expect in rare 80s cinematic instances that involve Kim Cattrall and an empty department store), but Manicanparty, and their unique tribal pop sound, are all about moving people.
There’s no word on how often Manicanparty will be joined on stage by their mannequin friends, but when the duo perform, they hope those props are the only things left unmoved.
B-Listers are a select group of artists that were featured in my Artist Of The Week series that ran every Monday from April of '06 to April of '11. All of these artists have two things in common; extreme talent, and a flight path far too under the radar for my liking. They took on the title of B-Listers as they embraced being featured by me, Adam B. Check out the AOTW Archives for all the interviews.