Manning chats songwriting, cover songs, and locking his mates out of their own house

Sydney solo artist Manning is the musical breath of fresh air you knew you needed, creating indie-folk gems with intricate guitar work and stunning melodies.

He just signed to the label New Levels, as well as releasing a brand new single Get Gone, the brilliant follow-up to Locked Out.

We caught up with Manning to chat about his music, favourite cover songs, and locking his mates out of their house.

PINNIES: First of all, HUGE congrats on your new single Get Gone. What’s the story behind the new track? 

MANNING: Get Gone was the first song I wrote after some pivotal life changes – in particular, finishing uni, parting ways with my old manager, and the end of a relationship. Needless to say, there was a sense of urgency to create something good in the studio. I started fingerpicking the first chord, but that quickly evolved into a relentless strumming pattern to match the headrush I was experiencing at the time.

PINNIES: Your most recent single Locked Out is honestly one of my favourite tracks released so far this year. What’s the worst place or online realm you’ve ever been locked out of?

MANNING: Haha, oh man. I’m notorious for forgetting things when I leave the house, including my keys! One time I was at a friend’s place and they gave me the keys to go outside and have a smoke. They came outside shortly after, and I somehow managed to lock us all out of their place. Oh dear.

PINNIES: You’re an insanely good vocalist, but your guitar skills on Locked Out are next level. Where does your guitar writing inspo come from?

MANNING: Thanks mate! Locked Out was a boozy experiment of tuning down the top E string to a D. The tuning produced some really warm open chords that I enjoyed, so Locked Out was the result of that. Unique tunings can really open up a treasure trove of new ideas for songwriters, so I’d definitely recommend, even for just having a bit of fun.

PINNIES: That track doesn’t actually have any drums but I genuinely didn’t even notice that until you mentioned it in one of your posts. Did you write a drum part and then decide not to include it?

MANNING: Good question. During the production sessions of Locked Out I kept suggesting that we add more instruments to my producers, but they were adamant about leaving drums out. In retrospect, I think they were on the money. I think the guitar was rhythmic enough on its own.

PINNIES: What factors played into that decision? 

MANNING: Another factor for not adding drums is that most of the other tracks we were working on already had them, so it would be nice to have a breather, a more gentle track to sit with.

PINNIES: You also just signed to the label New Levels which is massive! I feel like one of the most overlooked parts of record labels is the community aspect that comes with it. Have you had a chance to experience much of that community yet?

MANNING: Thanks mate! I think community in the music scene is so, so, important. I love the saying ‘it takes a village’, because it really does when it comes to music. Not only for songwriting and production, but for shows, merch, artwork, promo, social media, etc. In regards to New Levels, I’ve talked to a few of the other artists on the roster, and they were lovely. Talented, but also supportive, which goes a long way. I can’t recommend supporting your local music scene enough. It always finds a way to give back, one way or another.

PINNIES: I’ve been loving the instagram and TikTok covers you’ve been doing for the 10 covers in 10 days challenge. What are your 3 personal favourite covers of all time?

MANNING: Haha cheers, sadly I had to stop after day 3 because I got hit with a nasty chest infection. Ah well. My favourite covers of all time would definitely include DMA’s take on Cher Believe, Jeff Buckley’s Hallelujah (he also does great Bob Dylan covers), and Nirvana’s The Man Who Sold The World.

PINNIES: You’ve been playing a bunch of weddings recently as well. What’s the best wedding story you’d be allowed to tell us?

MANNING: Wedding gigs are a lot of effort but they’re very rewarding. I love playing the aisle songs/first dances especially. It feels like you’re creating a memory that the couple will hopefully remember for a long time. I don’t have any crazy wedding stories for you sadly, although one time there was a venue change the night before and I had to set up my gear in between the toilet door and a microwave. Good times.

Manning’s new single ‘Get Gone’ is out now, and he’s playing a show at the Bridge Hotel on Saturday the 20th of August to celebrate. You can grab tickets here and check out the new track below.