2019 has proved to be a busy year for Manny Blu. This artist from Quebec released his debut album Leave It Like It Is, and he toured the country with George Canyon, Doc Walker, and Charlie Major. This Fall, he is touring around Ontario to various Fall fairs.
Manny has brought his own unique sound to the modern country music scene in Canada. Since debuting his first single “X on My Heart” in February of 2019, he has released two other singles: “Looking Forward to Looking Back” and “Like It Like That”, and finally sharing his first full album to fans in June.
Our very own Scott Sykes had the chance to connect with Manny to talk about his music, touring with country legends, and what got him started in music. Check out the full interview below.
Interview With Manny Blu
Front Porch: Congrats on the release of your debut EP! What was the process like putting it together, and how are you feeling now it’s out in the world?
Manny Blu: The process of putting together an EP can be a fun yet overwhelming thing. I couldn’t wait to get the chance to call some songs my own and watch them grow from demos to final cuts. I was really lucky to have had the connection to Ole Publishing who pitched various songs at first to help me figure out what sound I wanted for the album. Once I had an idea, they then sent some more over and the album was made! It was an unreal experience to record Leave It Like It Is at BlackBird Studios in Nashville, TN. Now that it’s out and getting to tour with my own songs that are out in the world, and playing shows and having people sing the words back to me is something that I feel will never get old! My only wish now is that I get to play in front of more and more people, and more of them know the words and sing along with us.
FP: You recently toured with some Canadian Country heavyweights on George Canyon’s Hit After Hit tour, including Hall of Famer Charlie Major: did they give you any advice or did you pick up any inspiration from them before going out on your own headlining tour?
MB: Not so much before-hand, but definitely a lot of advice and forwarding knowledge during the tour. Before the tour had started, myself and the band got geared up by really diving in our set list and doing a small weekend tour in Kentucky and Missouri. We wanted to make sure that as soon as we got there we were able to hold our own and start off the night in the right way. I had a few conversations with George before the tour got going and it made it very easy to ask any questions and making sure we felt welcome.
Doc Walker was also on tour with us and in fact, shared a bus with us. So naturally it was quite easy to pick Chris and Dave’s brain on certain things to make our set and the show better. When guys who have been doing it so long have some advice, we certainly listened.
Charlie Major is just an inspiring person to be around. We have had some post-show conversations where he gave us an inside look at what touring is like and where the inspirations for his songs came from. It was all a surreal thing to go through. And I have to thank Jim Cressman for inviting me to play on this tour. It was perfectly designed to grow and get better as an artist. Playing a show every night lets you fix and correct things really quickly for the next night so you’re always evolving and always improving. So we took all that we learnt on the Hit After Hit tour and are bringing that with us on the road for my Leave It Like It Is Tour.
FP: Before music, you had your eyes on an athletic career – do you see any similarities in what’s needed to be successful in both industries, or is music a completely different mindset?
MB: I think the mindset is relatively the same. There are a lot of people that are really good at both sports and music and want to make a living of it as well, so I think hard work, the will, the grind and the passion has to be present in both instances. It would be easy to say that a sports career would be more physical, but as a singer that isn’t true. Much like when I played sports, as a singer I have to take care of my body because after all it is my instrument.
And I have learned the that hard way at times when I was perhaps a little careless and I did have to pay the price for it, and going through that I can tell you that the only difference I can feel between sports and a career in music is the skill set. I feel everything else is just about the same.
FP: With your tour stops including both Universities and Fairs, including the upcoming Markham Fall Fair, what excites you the most about performing for those audiences?
MB: Joining a community for a day and being part of that world is so much fun. People love their fall fairs and being able to come in and try to enhance that experience this year has been a challenge I accept greatly! And I feel the same way about playing at universities. You are there for four years, and you are there every day going through the grind, so if I can come in and take the crowd out of their school for a few hours and make them feel like they are at an arena concert and let go for a while, I feel like my job is so worth-while.
FP: Is there one artist or album that you would say is your biggest inspiration?
MB: As far as albums go, I think John Mayer’s Continuum is the best album ever made. I know there may be a few people that disagree, and that’s ok. But there are so many aspects in that album that as a singer, songwriter, and guitar player, I am just in awe about. With that said, I think it would be safe to say that he is one of my biggest influences. But I also have to add Jason Aldean and Eric Church to that list. They have been in the country music game for such a long time and it is inspiring to see them put out hit after hit. Especially when we cover some of their songs and see the crowd lose it, it makes me really hope my music will have that effect someday!
FP: Finally, what three songs are currently on repeat for you, that you have you listen to everyday?
MB: I get in moods where I can’t get enough of the same song over and over so this is a fun question to answer. I have to say right now the songs I’m listening to the most would be “He Went To Jared” by Hardy and Morgan Wallen, “When the Light Come On” by Jason Aldean and “Some of It” by Eric Church. I do have to mention that one of my favourite written songs, both musically and lyrically has to be John Mayer’s “Walt Grace Submarine Test January 1967”. It’s the song that I’ve been putting the most time in learning so I guess that one has been on repeat lately as well, even if it’s for a different reason.
Listen to Leave It Like It Is
In country music, the Front Porch has long been a place of reflection. A place where you can look at the life you have inside that front door. A place where time almost seems to stand still, where you can get away. It’s also a place where you can go to observe the world as it passes by you. To think about your place out there beyond the driveway.