Unforgettable artists, part 6; maNga

Welcome to chapter six of my unforgettable artists! This week I give you maNga!
An incredible number of artists have participated in the Eurovision Song Contest over the years. Some of them we never hear from again after the contest, and very often that’s just as well. Others have this special something which makes them unforgettable. At least that’s the way it works for me. In this weekend series I will share with you some of the artists I’ve “found” through the contest and that have become part of “my music”.
There are many different reasons why an artist catches and keeps my attention, anything from a cool performance to a song that just fits perfectly in with my taste in music. Very often, though, the voice plays a big part. Certain voices just manage to touch my heart. In this series I will take a closer look at some of the artists who, for me, have gone on to have a “life after Eurovision”. Most of these have found their way into my absolute top league, and their albums are on heavy rotation on my cd player.
maNga represented Turkey in the 2010 Eurovision Song Contest in Oslo, finishing second (WELL deserved, though they should have won!!) with their song We Could Be The Same.

maNga was founded in 2001, when guitar player Yağmur Sarıgül (Yamyam) decided he wanted to start a group that would play a mixture of rock and electronica by mixing cool guitar riffs, hip-hop and rap vocals with the rythms from Anatolia. They initially did cover songs, putting their own stamp on other artists’ material, but they soon started writing their ownmusic. Just three months after the birth of maNga they decided to take part in a music competition called “Sing Your Song”, and for this they wrote their first song, Kal Yanımda. They finished second in the competition, and this was also where they first got noticed by record companies, leading to their contract with Sony.

They continued playing music that they would describe as “nu metal” and “hard rock”. Most of the material they perform they’ve written themselves, with Yamyam writing most of their lyrics.
In 2004 they released their first album “maNga”, which was a massive hit in Turkey, making them the first Turkish act to earn a gold record for their debut album, and it also sold very well in Japan. Two years later, in 2006, the album was re-released, now called maNga+, this time containing two new songs and accompanied by a DVD containing the videos to most of the songs from the album. Their song Bir Kadin Çizeceksin was included on the FIFA06 soundtrack, which led to a whole new audience discovering their music.

Following the release of their debut album maNga focused mainly on live performances. They toured the entire country, performing more than 250 concerts in two years. In addition to touring at home they also played gigs in several other European countries, among others Hungary, Germany, Bulgaria, England and the Netherlands. They categorize themselves as being a live band, and I guess these numbers confirm that.

Image; artist's facebook
Image; artist’s facebook
During their many travels around Turkey and Europe they came in contact with people and cultures that influenced the direction their music would take. The band members matured, both as people and musicians, and their view of life and the world had changed. And they had started listening to other styles of music, something that also had an impact on their own music. This led to a warmer, smoother, more melancholy and very characteristic sound.

manga cds

3/5 of my maNga collection; the other 2/5 are still in my other country…

This shift in sound can be heard very clearly on their second album Şehr-i Hüzün from 2009. They had worked on this album for 23 months, making it a very well prepared and 100% honest album. The album is inspired by Istanbul, its history and the stories of people living there now. It even got its title from one of the city’s old local names; City of Sorrow.

Image; Rodrigo Romero Hidalgo
Image; Rodrigo Romero Hidalgo

It contains no less than 16 (!!) songs, giving the listeners a total of over an hour of lovely music. A “luxe” version of the album was also released, which included a DVD with videos and a two and a half hour maNga documentary, produced by none other than Ferman himself. This album also won them the award for Best European Act in the MTV Europe Music Awards 2009.

On Şehr-i Hüzün we can hear a stronger mix of western and oriental music, and the guys use a wide range of instruments which are not normally used in rock/hip-hop, like the reed flute, piano, tambour and the bağlama. This creates a unique sound to maNga’s music. It’s not easy trying to label the sound on this second album, but words like rock, hiphop, rap, electronica, sufi music and tradiditonal Turkish music have to be mentioned. No matter the label though; maNga’s music is pure magic.

Image; artist's facebook
Image; artist’s facebook
In 2012 they released their third album, E-akustik. Here they rearranged and reinvented their own music in acoustic versions. Many of their earlier songs get a completely new life on this album, and the acoustic version of We Could Be the Same is exquisite. I love just about everything they have done, but this is the album I can’t stop listening to. And yet again they manage to reach a new audience, with the toned down but still raw sound of their rock in acoustic versions.

Their most recent album was released in 2014, and again they have managed to update their sound, while still keeping the distinct maNga sound that we all know and love. On this album we also meet another Turkish Eurovision star, Kenan Doğulu. Kenan represented Turkey in the 2007 Eurovision in Helsinki, where he finished 4th with the song Shake It Up Şekerim. 

I can not wait to hear more from these guys, who have managed to land themselves very securely on my CD shelf and somewhere close to the top of every single playlist I put together! There are rumors of an upcoming English language release, and even though I love Turkish as a singing language, it will be exciting to get more English songs from these fantastic guys! So far they’ve just released two English songs; We Can Be the Same and Fly to Stay Alive.

Last year maNga did their first two performances in the US, as they appeared during SXSW in Texas in March of 2015 and then again during CMJ in New York in October. Hopefully this is the start of the massive international success this amazingly wonderful band deserves!!
Image; maNga
Image; maNga
Part 1; Mumiy Troll
Part 2; BrainStorm
Part 3; Sébastien Tellier
Part 4; Raphael Gualazzi
Part 5; Tose Proeski

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