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MANASYt – Hailing from the Otherside

Published March, 2013
by Easterndaze


It may seem ironic. Finding a Bulgarian producer can be an easier task if you choose to look outside, rather than within the borders of our country. They seem to be thriving out there, unburdened by our homeland’s troublesome past, absurd present and ever so uncertain future. One such producer is MANASYt – one of the most accomplished Eastern European industrial electro producers in the last decade, with an impressive volume of releases for various labels and monikers /incl. Sam Lowry/, for imprints such as Legowelt’s Strange Life Rec. or Andrea Parker’s Touchin Bass. MANASYt emigrated in the late 90s to a wonderful life moving across three continents, and a dream come true – music. He has recently put most of his output on bandcamp, after having a sort of musical hiatus for a while. When I approached him for this interview, he was surprised that anyone from Bulgaria would be interested in his works as an artist. Here is the record of our short virtual encounter.

Could you briefly introduce yourself?

Petar Tassev, 36, living in China, born in Bulgaria.

How and when did you feel the urge to make music?

Apart from the band thing (I was a vocalist, I cannot play any instruments), I started doing electronic stuff in 2002. I was living in the States at the time. A friend of mine showed me how he made simple techno tunes on his laptop. Music was such a big part of my life so I thought I could try to make my own. I told my friends that one day I’ll put my music on a record, and they laughed. But that took only a year.

Your bio on your Facebook page is both funny and scary – “MANASYt hails from the twilight zone – post communist Bulgaria. Growing up with Swans, Voivod, Godflesh and singing in hardcore/metal outfits has a big influence on his current sound.” Could you elaborate on this? How has being from Bulgaria shaped you as an artist?

Well, for me it was a twilight zone because I grew up in a communist country. We had to pay certain people to get foreign music at that time. Bring a blank tape to their house so they can record the album for us and write the tracklist for the cover 🙂 We had no CDs, no computers, no email. Most guys growing up in Eastern Europe were metalheads or rappers 🙂 I was into metal, long hair, stretch jeans, band patches and all that, so there was always trouble in school, haha. So my current sound is more influenced by guitar based stuff (metal + industrial) than any electronic music I got into in the following years.

Blood To Sand by MANASYt

Why did you leave Bulgaria?

I left in 1998, so I was only 22. I had a chance to visit the US with a 4 month program from my University. It was really difficult to leave the country or travel in those years, so I gave it a try. Those 4 months turned into 7 years.

Tell me more about the time you spent in the USA and how it affected you music-wise…

I was in South Carolina (of all places) for 6 years. So maybe that messed up my sound for good! 🙂 The first electro I heard was pretty late, I think it was ADULT. I was never into Kraftwerk or any old-school stuff. I was making a lot of music, maybe 5 tracks a week. I was sending all my demos to Europe, so after the first record for Kommando 6, it all started rolling pretty quick. Released records in Belgium, UK, France and so on. I played my first gig in Ohio in 2003. Met some people from Detroit there and shortly after that I packed whatever I could in my car and moved there. Started making a lot of music contacts and playing in clubs.

Why did you come back to Europe?

I guess I just felt the need to go home. So in 2005 I left Detroit and flew back to Bulgaria.

Listening to your music feels like a journey into a hopeless industrial future, evoking images of apocalypse, desolation, grinning malevolence….is that simply your love for this particular type of aesthetics, or are there any other reasons – be it personal beliefs, philosophies, other forms of art like books, movies, images, etc. – for your sound to be so cold and sinister?

No personal beliefs whatsoever, just drawing inspiration from the world around me, usually the negative things. It naturally comes out of me this way, I don’t force this mood. I cannot make a jolly commercial house track even if I want to (not that I would). So I have no idea how to explain this in a better way, haha. Movies and images – oh yes, big time! I’m a big movie buff, I watch some very unknown and rare stuff, sometimes shocking and disturbing. Stuff that most people would turn off but it doesn’t bother me, I like to watch stuff that challenges my brain…The dark, absurd, weird, grotesque, perverse, twisted but ingenious kind of stuff.

Judging by your output you are quite a prolific artist. How do you typically compose a track?

My best tracks take only hours to finish, so it’s very impulsive. I don’t like to leave stuff unfinished and come back to it after a long time, it will lose its intensity. I am not a technical kind of guy, I don’t know anything about professional audio production. I do it mostly by ear and the ‘touch here to see what happens’ kind of way. I don’t use headphones, it is very loud in my room when I make music :). People ask me about my studio, the truth is I don’t have one, haha. There’s a laptop, a MIDI keyboard and 2 speakers. I’ve never used or had hardware and I don’t feel the need to. So you won’t see a fancy photo of me posing in front of hardware racks, looking proud and all. If you have ideas in your head and put them to music and sound like yourself then it is interesting to me. Doesn’t matter what you use to make it happen. Anyone can buy a bunch of machines and try to sound like Anthony Rother. The robots, droids and machines are taking over the world and we have sex with them, too. I have had enough of that :).

Tell me more about your Sam Lowry alias…

Sam Lowry was the main character in the movie Brazil (Terry Gilliam). There are many references from it in my music. It is usually beatless stuff, I did an album for Legowelt’s Strange Life Records some years ago. It is something like relaxed horror music or maybe not. It is pretty varied, I think some different moods than MANASYt.

Furthur by Sam Lowry

You wear a mask on your live performances, why is that?

It’s more fun, the image fits the music I think. And makes me less nervous in front of a lot of people 🙂  Someone stole one of my masks in Belgium! That was a mad evening…

How do you feel about the current state of underground electronic music industry? I see you’ve been uploading many of your releases on Bandcamp, though not too many free downloads to lure listeners

It is pretty bad compared to say, 5 years ago, at least forme. I think it is really difficult for labels to press records and sell them these days. The kids listen to dubstep I guess…Everyone who’s doing electro is in their 30s and 40s like me. So who knows what will happen after 10 years? The whole digi release thing is not very inspiring, to say the least. There’s 5 free tracks on my Bandcamp I think LOL. All my music is shared for free on Soulseek, go check it out 🙂

Have you ever considered making music for a living, or you prefer it to be just a hobby?

I lived from my music for around 3 years. I was playing in 2-3 countries every month. I’d never imagined I’d have a chance to do that and it was an amazing part of my life.

Are you planning any future releases?

It is not like it used to be. I guess I’ll have a track out every once in a while if someone asks me to do so (if it is vinyl).

More Meat by MANASYt

You are currently residing in China…how is Asian culture influencing you – both personally and artistically?

Personally – a lot! Asia is like another planet. It has opened my mind so much. Any Western country wouldbore the crap out of me right now. I was in London before I came here, sorry, I don’t consider it a nice place to live. A lot of people are even scared to go to Asia but there’s no other way to find out about a place than going there! Artistically – not much, I haven’t done much music since I moved here. I have played only 1 gig in Shanghai for the last 2 years, but it was worth it!

Do you follow the political events in Bulgaria? What are your feelings about what’s happening here?

I’m not a political kind of guy and I usually don’t watch TV or follow the news. But yes, I know what’s happening but I have no idea what to say and what’s the right thing to do. Our government is like a Merry-go-round or something but it’s the same people that get on it. So I don’t have much hope about it getting any better.

Finally, would you ever come back to Bulgaria?

Maybe, when I’m old 🙂 I plan to live here for a long time, the lifestyle suits me well. I can travel a lot too which I enjoy. I go home once a year, for a month, in the summer. It is enough for me to see family and friends every once in a while. But at this point I have no desire to live there.

MANASYt’s sonic output is here.

By Snezhana Bezus, who runs the blog Beatbucket.