This is an interview with David Speakman, also known professionally as Manipulant based on Lancaster (a little city in Pennsylvania, USA).
W.: Tell us a bit about yourself.
David Speakman: Hello, I’m David Speakman by day and Manipulant when time allows. I hail from a lovely little city in Pennsylvania, USA called Lancaster. Lancaster has more record stores per capita than any place in the world (I’m pretty sure I just made that up, but there are loads of record stores here) I am an Aquarian (2/11) My favorite candy bar is Hershey’s with almonds and my favorite ice cream is Häagen-Dazs Swiss Almond Vanilla (So I guess I like almonds, I never put that together).
W.: What makes you start your music career?
Speakman: I have loved music as long as I can remember. Whenever I got a couple dollars I was off to the record store, so I guess it was inevitable that I would someday make my own. I think I started out banging on coffee cans or whatever else I could find that made an interesting sound and evolved into banging on coffee cans or whatever I can find that makes an interesting sound.
W.: Are there singers/bands that influenced your music career, and how have they influenced you (in any way)?
Speakman:I think all music influences what I do/ or don’t do in some way. But that is the easy way out. I will give you three albums that most influence what I try to do: OMD – Dazzle Ships. This was the first album I ever heard that made me realize I could incorporate any sound or any thing I wanted into a song and that was very appealing to me. The Fall – In: Palace Of Swords Reversed. This was the craziest thing I had ever heard at the time. A madman (?) ranting seemingly about whatever popped into in head over a repetitive gro ove. Genius. Tom Waits – Swordfishtrombones. This album taught me two things-it was ok to write songs about the misfits in this world and that those coffee cans I used to beat on could actually work in a song. Sixteen shells from a thirty-ought six is still one of my favorite grooves. I hop around uncontrollably whenever I hear it.
W.: An non-related music question: let’s talk about your name. You have an interesting name of Manipulant. Could you tell us the story behind your name?
Speakman: Manipulant just fit what I was doing on a couple levels. I have a job in the wine business and the term Récoltant-Manipulant (which translates roughly to estate champagne) always seemed cool to me. That and the fact that I do a fair amount of sound manipulation in my music made it a natural fit. Unfortunately, Manipulant translates differently across languages and is probably viewed negatively in some. But, I like the name and it’s too late to change it now because the t-shirts have already been made.
W.: You have a new album released on valentines day. Could you give us a preview of the album, and why do you want to release it on 2/14?
Speakman: I’d love to. It is being released on 2/14 because that was the date chosen by Cap’n Bob at Submarine Broadcasting Company. I agreed because I’m an appeaser – and it falls near my birthday so that was pretty cool.
The album, Sundries & Souvenir is a collection of songs dating back to 2016 when Manipulant first became a thing and carries through 2018. I did record one new song called Melted Roses, Invisible just for the occasion.
It is being released in every format known to man – and some unknown. Vinyl, cassette, CD, Digital and something that cave people called 8-track.
W.: Tell us some of your favorite song from your music career and why.
Speakman: Electric Cigarette is a song I wrote in 2015 that was released on an album called Méthode de Narration. It also appears on Sundries & Souvenir. I think it is important to me because it was the beginning of what Manipulant is now.
W.: Could you tell us about what the song “electric cigarette” is about and why it’s the beginning of what you are now?
Speakman: E-cig was born from a chance interaction on a city street. A noticeably distressed (and probably high) man approached me offering an electronic cigarette. Of course, I attempted to blow him off by hurrying past, but as I walked by him he said something like-Take it, Jesus gave it to me and I don’t want it. I didn’t think anything else about, but I awoke in the middle of the night and penned about a half-dozen versus about the encounter on the back of an envelope.
That morning, I immediately began working on the song-though I only ended up using a couple of the lines I had written on the envelope.
The reason I say it was the beginning of what Manipulant now is, is because it was written completely on a DAW (digital audio workstation) rather than a traditional band type of setting where different members contributed parts to it. Though I later added some live guitar and percussion to it, it put the idea into my head that I could compose and record myself on a computer. Some of what I now record is done 100% on my DAW with an occasional helper from live instruments.
W.: You have collaborated with Stoneygate (which I have interviewed before) for the single “Run.” Tell us about you collaboration experience.
Speakman: I approached Stoneygate with a song I was working on that really felt like it needed a female vocal. She was an absolute joy to work with and I think she appreciated working outside of her comfort zone on it with me. I do have to say, it is a much better song with her on it. Don’t be surprised if we pair up again in the future. I recommend working with other artists on occasion. It gives new perspective to your own work and you might even learn something.
Note: You can read my past interview with Stoneygate here: https://wworldcommentary.wordpress.com/2018/05/24/interview-thursday-jacky-stoneygate/
W.: What are your goals for the future?
Speakman: I hope to someday write the perfect pop song… and then completely ruin it.
W.: Why do you want to write a pop song, and then ruin it, given that the vast majority of the music market today relies on pop music?
Speakman: That answer was a bit tongue-in-cheek, though I don’t like the way popular music is force fed to the public. Given the choice, most people will still take the “Blue Pill” and remain in the fabricated reality of modern pop music, but some will choose red. As far as me ruining the perfect pop song, many a song have started out in my head as something that could easily fall into the formulaic main stream. It is once I begin the recording process and Maniputize it with my clangs and echoes and hums that it becomes something less of a pop song.
W.: Are there any final thoughts you want share with our readers?
Speakman: Thank you for bringing obscure and borderline listenable stuff like mine to the masses. And to those reading this, yes, you are more cool than anybody else for seeking out new obscure and borderline listenable stuff like mine.
Also, I asked David if he could give us a preview of his new album released on valentines day. Here is the preview from his new album “Sundries & Souvenir”, as well as the preorder link: https://submarinebroadcastingco.bandcamp.com/album/sundries-souvenir
We thank Manipulant (David Speakman) for responding to these questions and to accept this interview with us. Check out his new album (released on 2/14/2019) when it releases then. You can follow him on twitter: @ManipulantMusic
His website is here: http://manipulantmusic.com/
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