An Interview with Sun God Performer Manila Killa

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Connor Gory / The Triton

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21-year-old music producer, Manila Killa, is an up-and-coming artist who recently performed at our very own Sun God Festival 2017. Triton Arts and Entertainment writer Amarachi Metu sat down with him for a quick interview about his musical influences, fashion, and future. The interview has been edited for clarity. 

Amarachi Metu [The Triton]: Hi, Manila Killa!

Manila Killa [MK]: Hi!

The Triton: Do you prefer to go by Chris?

MK: Yeah, we can go with Chris. Doesn’t really matter.

The Triton: Are you used to people referring to you as Manila Killa now rather than Chris?

MK: I mean, definitely people I don’t know obviously, like when I go around festivals and stuff, I’ll hear Manila Killa and stuff so at first, it was really, like, you know, it caught me off guard because well I’m still not used to it, but I’m trying to get used to it now.

The Triton: You’re tryna slowly making your way. 

MK: Yeah, and I don’t really put my name on any of my socials…

The Triton: I noticed that, yeah.

MK: Yeah, so I’m surprised that when people call me “Chris,” that they know that, so yeah.

The Triton: Research is important [laughs].

MK: Yeah.

The Triton: So, why “Manila Killa?”

MK: I grew up half of my life in the Philippines, mainly Manila, and that’s sort of where I discovered electronic music, or where I was introduced to electronic music first. So when I started producing stuff, I kinda wanted to you know, pay tribute to where it sort of all began. And the Killa part just because it rhymes with it [laughs].

The Triton: So, it just kind of made sense?

MK: Basically. I mean, yeah, I wanted a name that sort of related to where I came from but I didn’t want it to just be like “Manila.” That’s just weird, so my friend actually came up with the “Killa” part, so yeah.

The Triton: Cool stuff. Okay, in a recent interview, you said that you would grow out of all of your old hobbies but music was your one constant, so now you’re on your way to becoming one of the biggest DJ’s and producers in the states. So what’s it like living out your passion?

(Connor Gorry / The Triton).

(Connor Gorry / The Triton)

MK: Oh my God, it’s kind of still a dream to me. I just graduated from school in December so it’s like really fresh to me, and I never thought I’d be able to do this because it was always a hobby, but I think it’s amazing, like I’m still waking up every day and I’m like, whoa, I can do whatever I want, and it’s just like really incredible to me.

The Triton: Great, okay. Who would you say are your biggest musical and stylistic influences, both in the past and presently?

MK: I’d say definitely Daft Punk is way up there because I heard their song “One More Time when I was in the first grade and it was the first sort of electronic music I had ever heard in my life and it was awesome. And aside from Daft Punk, I’ve really enjoyed Porter Robinson’s work in the past few years like with “Worlds,” he’s amazing and more recently, “Shelter” with Madeon is like really cool and like outside of electronic music, I’ve always loved pop music, like pop music on the radio because that’s all I listened to when I was growing up so like I love like Eminem and like Beyonce and like all those people. But I also really like Bon Iver. Bon Iver’s like one of my favorite bands ever.

The Triton: Good stuff. Okay, so, well, you haven’t performed yet… I wrote this last night BEFORE I realized that it would be before but, you have it prepared.

The Triton: What are you most excited for?

MK: What am I most excited for? I actually just released a song yesterday called “I’m OK” featuring this singer named Shaylen, and this is the first time I’m playing it out as it is released so I’m really excited for that one. Aside from that, I have like a couple surprises like a Beyonce song I’m gonna play.

The Triton: Ugh! Shook.

MK: Yeah, I’m like really excited for that. I mean, I love all the songs obviously, I love all the songs I’m playing so it’s hard to choose but I’d say those are the standouts.

The Triton: Okay, so people often classify your music as future bass or simply, EDM, but how would you describe your own style?

MK: That’s still something I’m trying to figure out myself honestly, like, when people ask, mainly Uber drivers, “Hey, what kind of music do you make?” I’m always like, “Hmm, what kind of music do I really make?” I always kind of generalize it and make it easy and say down-tempo electronic. You know, like, not too turn-up, not too crazy, but chill enough to like study to but also to dance to.

The Triton: And so do you have like a signature thing? Because Pharrell has his four-beat intro and then like Diplo has his own thing and has easy beats, so…

MK: I’m still like trying to figure that out, too. I would say like in the past few years, I’d say my signature thing was that I would use a lot of like mallet kinds of sounds, you know like the marimbas and stuff. But it’s always evolving so I don’t really have like a signature thing so far. Yeah.

The Triton: You have this like fashion game going on right now so what would you say are your basic style influences, because if you look at your social media, you have like, you got your Polo but then you also have like your Yeezys so like what is your style?

MK: I wouldn’t say I’m like into the fashion game. I’m just like a casual fan of it so I’m not that deep into it. There are a couple brands that I like really like. I mean obviously I love Off White by Virgil Abloh. I think Virgil Abloh is one like the coolest people in the world because not only does he like run a dope fashion brand but also because he’s probably like Kanye West’s team. He’s a creative director, he also plays music, and I think that’s really dope, so I really like Off White. I also really like some French brands like Comme des Garçons, like the little heart. One of my favorite things to wear like I own a bunch of that, too. I really love the brand Youth Machine by Clifford. He’s out of LA. I’m actually wearing like, this is all Youth Machine right now. Yeah, like, I love what he’s doing like he kills all the time and he’s a super nice guy, so yeah.

The Triton: Okay, so here’s my final question for you. So, you’re a Filipino man in a field dominated by white dudes from Europe.  So, why is it important to find representation in this field?

MK: Honestly, I never really thought about it that way until more recently. Race was never like a big deal to me. I just wanted to make dope music, but nowadays I think it’s really important to represent Asians because now I do see that we are underrepresented in the mainstream entertainment industry, so that’s definitely in the forefront of my mind now. I think it’s really important to, you know, stand strong and stick together. But most importantly, like, aside from all the race and stuff, just to make dope music. That’s really it.

The Triton: True. So, what are your hopes for the future?

MK: I keep the future super simple. I just wanna be able to, like, make amazing music every day. That’s my goal. That’s really it.

The Triton: Yeah, you just played at Snow Globe and now you’re at Sun God. Is there any festival that you’re like, “I need to play at this in the next year or so?”

MK: Honestly, I’ve checked, if not all of them, off already. I’d say EDC Japan would be really dope. I’ve never played in Japan before. That’d be really cool. I’ve always wanted to play in like Korea and Europe, so festival-wise, I don’t have any specifics but more so I have areas of the world I really want to play at.

The Triton: Cool stuff. Thank you so much!

Amarachi Metu is a Arts and Entertainment writer for The Triton.