DATE: JULY 27, 2023
FROM: MARCEE RONDAN/KELLY WALSH
“Last Night’s Kiss” single cover art
BALI-BASED ALTERNATIVE POP-ROCK TRIO
DIVE DEEP INTO THEIR FANTASIES
ON BRAND-NEW SINGLE
“LAST NIGHT’S KISS”
GROUP’S BOPPING NEW TRACK OUT TODAY (JULY 27) QUESTIONS FOOTLOOSE FANTASY
LISTEN TO TO THE TRACK HERE
To hook up, canoodle, and live large and full throttle, hoping the rendezvous would become a story with a happy ending.
For Bali-based alternative pop-rock trio MANJA, the power of fantasy and imagination fascinates them and it serves as central theme on their brand-new single “Last Night’s Kiss” out today (July 27) on all digital streaming platforms. Listen here.
“We imagined this tale about meeting and hooking up with someone at a party, making questionable decisions because of this person, and just living large,” vocalist and guitarist James Sukadana explains about the song’s lyrics which are based on an imaginary story about a late-night encounter with someone that was inspired by their living-life-to-the-fullest disposition but on their own terms.
MANGA’s James and brothers Nick and Mark Vleugels–who play guitar and keyboards, respectively–are down for a party, yes, but in their own way. For the über-talented and hard-working band, a party means crafting and composing music together and having loads of fun doing so. MANJA firmly believe that everyone has a unique definition of a party, encouraging individuals to explore their imagination and create their own extraordinary experiences.
And so, from a fantasy, MANJA crafted a whole song to try and live out a different reality.
“It is so at odds with how we lead our lives,” says James. “But there is a plot twist to the song. Even though we knew that we were falling into a trap, we still wanted to give it a go. It reflects on how we are in real life, where we embrace the here and now without any regrets,” he adds.
MANJA: Mark Vleugels (yellow jacket), Nick Vleugels (blue jacket), James Sukadana (red jacket)
It also mirrors MANJA‘s approach to music, where they do not aim for a specific style or sound. “Whenever we find something cool from the songs that we are listening to, we tend to try and implement it to our music instead of exclusively looking for something that is MANJA,” James reveals.
Initially inspired by the song “Darling” from American indie-rock band Real Estate, “Last Night’s Kiss” underwent various iterations before MANJA settled on the current version. As they developed the song, they struggled with writer’s block. At one point, the original sketch to “Last Night’s Kiss” was scrapped and reworked into a rock track, a la The Black Keys. “It was fun to play live, but it stuck out like a sore thumb against our other songs. It did not fit into our set at all,” Nick says.
Fortunately, the turning point came when they started working with producer duo Brian Kresna Putro and Enrico Octaviano, renowned drummers for Indonesian bands Tiket and Lomba Sihir, respectively. MANJA returned to the original demo and finally got their mojo back.
“Everything felt great in the studio, and we enjoyed working with Brian and Enrico. We bounced ideas off one another. They complement us very well, and to have them streamlining the recording process was so helpful because we tend to have trouble agreeing on the right sound or direction,” says Mark.
James, however, found the vocal recording process very intriguing. Working with celebrated vocal director Irvan Natadiningrat, his initial jitters evaporated as soon as they started getting their hands dirty.
“I was nervous because I am not what some may call a conventional singer,” James says. “But he [Irvan] was terrific to work with. He wanted to feel what the song was about from how I sang. It is about hooking up with someone while drunk, so he insisted I get slightly inebriated. First time with a vocal director, first time recording tipsy. It worked out pretty well!” James adds with a chuckle.
More than five years in the making, MANJA finally finished the first song they had ever written as a band. Delighted with the result, Nick admits that it is a relief. “Especially since our songwriting has changed a lot. But this sound is exactly what we wanted to achieve.”
“This single is the fresh new sound of MANJA. It is a sign of what is to come from us in the future, and this is the level of standards that we want to maintain, all fun and vibes and no regrets,” concludes James.
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