Having experienced sharing the stage with names like Meghan Trainor and Sam Smith, performing on Jay Leno’s Tonight Show, and touring as a vocalist with her own local idol, Mary Lambert, Manser is no stranger to the limelight.
While preparing for her performance at Bumbershoot this weekend, a west coast tour with experimental/R&B local Shaprece, and the release of the finalized version of her new single, “Second Skin” (off of her new EP of the same title), Maiah Manser took a little break with me to chit-chat like chatty Cathys at Oddfellow’s Café on Capitol Hill.
Manser has called Seattle home for the past seven years after having moved up here from Bend, Oregon to attend Cornish College of the Arts. Though she enjoyed her time there and found a great interest in learning the fundamentals of music and creation, Manser felt boxed in and restricted from discovering her own path, resulting in her leaving the college. Nevertheless, she didn’t give up music; instead, she found solace in singing in a professional choir, an important piece in her career that kept her inspired to keep discovering a love for music.
Like many other artists, Manser found that the most important aspect of her songs were that they created a feeling, whether it be felt by herself or by her audience.
“Art is all about connecting people, creating ideas” Manser said, recalling an inspiring conversation she had with a friend. “It’s conscious and forward to the times. It’s supposed to mimic the history. When you hear it, you know what had been happening at that time.”
This saying fits perfectly into Manser’s musical stylings.
In today’s hits, there is a clear-cut variance between what is performed in the raw and what is simply electronic. To Manser, it isn’t about picking between one or the other, but bringing them together to create such a work of art.
“Music needs a backbone,” Manser said, “I like the grit and the raw. But it also needs to feel real.” Using analog synths, connecting soundscapes, and live samples (from Native American chanting to the sound of a tree being cut down), Manser’s EP Second Skin aims to “fuse the digital and the organic,” nearly merging the two types of worlds we live in today.
The beauty of Second Skin, according to Manser, is the lyrical freedom she gave herself, compared to her older works. She was once told by a colleague that she was watching and censoring herself lyrically.
When I told her that I loved “Little Child” from 2013, she thanked me but she also laughed, joking about how young she was when she wrote that song.
“Overthinking destroys the point,” she said, “When people hear these new songs, I want them to think ‘She’s saying something very real!’”
Manser will be bringing her visions of reality on stage with her at Bumbershoot this Sunday with a few changes in mind. Normally playing with a simple three-piece, Manser has expanded her set-up to a six-piece band, bringing twice as much energy to her performance.
When I asked her what to expect from her stage presence this weekend, Manser responded with the best answer I could possibly ask for.
While many performers like to say that they pretend the crowd isn’t there, Manser is the opposite, choosing to look deeply into the crowd, and especially at the one person talking during her set.
“I like looking into their soul,” she said laughing, “They know that I’m staring at them. I like making them feel a little uncomfortable.”
At that point, I realized that I wanted Maiah Manser to be my best friend.
Be sure to let Maiah Manser look deep into your soul at the Starbucks Stage (Mural Amphitheater) on Sunday, September 4th at 4:20 p.m.
PRISCILLA GAMIT | I take my coffee black with a little bit of artificial sweetener, just like my soul | General Manager