We are sharing our interview with Manuel Bair. A singer/songwriter from the Pacific Northwestern United States. His debut album LIVING PROOF hits this summer, and his first three singles have all gone viral on the Spotify viral charts, the latest one charting on the Rock Hot 100
Twist Online : First of all tell us about the start of your professional career?
Manuel Bair : My professional career really took off about eleven months ago after my first single, ONCE I’M GONE, hit on college radio in Canada and the USA. But long before that, after I wrote my first song, I knew I wanted to play music for the rest of my life. Knowing there was an outlet to express my emotions through something more than words was incredibly captivating for me.
Twist Online : Who or what inspired you to get into music industry?
Manuel Bair : Dave Grohl was my main driving influence to start playing professionally. Not only is he an incredible artist making amazing music, but just being familiar with his story, the adversity he’s overcome, really inspired me to overcome the obstacles in my own life through music as well. From the generation ahead of me, I can’t think of anyone better to look up to.
The crazy thing about all this is that I had the privilege of speaking to Dave on the phone when I was first starting to get my footing as a writer. He spent several minutes encouraging me to keep with my style, to keep writing from the heart. He warned me not to listen to anybody and encouraged me to just write what I knew. I’ll never forget that. It’s keeps me going to think about what he said and where that philosophy has gotten him, so I’ve tried to apply what he taught me to my own career.
Twist Online : Tell us about your upcoming release ‘LIVING PROOF’?
Manuel Bair : LIVING PROOF is my debut album and is the culmination of the past ten or so years of my life. It follows through my endeavors as a songwriter and revisits the triumphs and tragedies of my journey into music. Making this album was very personal for me, but also one that was a bit of a purging of emotion, or a venting of all the life that’s accumulated over time. My hope is that the record serves as a reminder for every listener that their dreams, like mine, are also possible.
Twist Online : Have you written all the songs yourself?
Manuel Bair : Yes. I wrote everything and veteran rock producer Deane Ogden produced the record.
About a year ago, I met Deane at a songwriters retreat where he was the featured keynote speaker. I had the opportunity of performing for him on the first night of the retreat and we talked right after and hit it off immediately. It wouldn’t be for another few months before I approached him with the rest of my material, asking if he’d produce my debut album. We got right to work and the rest is history. So, yeah, I wrote and sang everything, of course, played all the acoustic guitar parts and a few electric rhythm parts. Deane is a multi-instrumentalist, so he plays drums, bass, guitar, piano, he orchestrates for strings and brass, just all kinds of stuff. He’s also super connected so we were able to get a lot of fantastic session musicians to come in and guest on things.
Twist Online : Your first three singles has received exceptional response. You must be very excited about that?
Manuel Bair : Extremely! I couldn’t be happier with the type of response we’ve received thus far! It’s incredibly humbling, and extremely motivating to see there’s a hunger out there for acoustic based-rock.
ONCE I’M GONE was my debut single. It started out as a simple, fairly straight-ahead three-against-four strummer, but after reworking it in the studio with Deane and bringing in session bassist Al Slavik (Adrian Belew, Alphaville) and violinist Bryan Provost who tracked all the live strings, it really turned into a fully-fleshed out acoustic rock ballad.
I followed that release up with a single called YOUR RETURN, which is actually a song I wrote a good six years or so ago. It’s more of mid-tempo rock song with a lift in the bridge and has one of those “wave your lighter” choruses that people seem to love.
My most recent release, and probably my most popular so far, is a little alt-country rock tune called MERCY. It received a massive bump from the good people at 102.7 FM in New York City and has kind of caught some fire up and down the Eastern seaboard. It also features Rob Eisler on lead guitar and Michael Egizi (Cher, Richard Marx) on Hammond B3.
The whole experience of releasing these singles and this upcoming record has been awesome. I would say to anyone who is thinking of starting a career as a singer/songwriter that I’ve met so many cool people in the last year in this business – the narrative that the music business is falling apart is completely ridiculous. I’m “living proof” that you can make something happen if you just believe in your music, work hard, and keep challenging yourself.
Twist Online : What attracts you more, performing on stage or working in studios?
Manuel Bair : Is it wrong to say both? I love playing for live audiences, first and foremost. Getting that immediate feedback, that give and take. You are a partner with your audience. You give to them but they give back as well. That’s so gratifying. Nothing compares!
Being in the studio, though, that’s a whole different kind of magic, too. The real challenge, I think, is how do you take those magic moments you get down on tape into the world in front of a live audience and still create a sound and an atmosphere that’s just as inspiring as it was when you were back in that live room with your friends making that music the first time? That’s the hard part — the translation. If you can get that right, things just glue together.
Twist Online : What’s your favorite music genre?
Manuel Bair : This is a tough choice, but I’d have to go with my first love – 90’s Grunge. It’s a genre I constantly find myself revisiting and taking inspiration from. I just love the honesty of it, the grit, the look and feel of the Seattle Sound. Vedder and Cobain. Cornell and Staley. Those guys were giants in my eyes and pioneered a sound that stole my heart from the first listen.
Twist Online : Have you set some target to achieve as a music artist?
Manuel Bair : I just want to inspire people the way I’ve been inspired. It’s as simple as that, really. I started doing this because I fell in love with playing music, plain and simple. And it doesn’t matter if you are a musician or a doctor or a gas station attendant, you have to be happy in life with what you are doing. There’s no reason to not be doing what makes you happy. And it all comes back to the reason why I titled the album ”LIVING PROOF”. What proof will you have that you really lived? You have to just go for it, shun the non-believers and be yourself and do what you feel in your gut. Take those risks. That’s what this record is about and it’s what I hope my whole career will always be about.
For further information on the artist you can visit his official website www.manuelbair.com