Interview: Kije Manito

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Throughout French electronic producer Kije Manito‘s debut EP, Majestaju, the 24 year-old musician tackles hip-hop, trap, future bass, techno, and world music. This disparate range of influences compounds best on the EP’s title track, a hazy amalgam of crisp drum machines and eastern-influenced clarinet runs that provides the ideal template for an R&B-heavy vocal feature by Emma Bergmann. Aside from Bergmann’s contributions on “Majestaju” (and the following track “Ctwo”), Kije Manito’s own voice can be heard on the experimental trap breakdown “Cause My Love Is Dead.” But it’s on the EP’s closing track, “My Girl Scout Cookie,” that this producer pulls out all the stops. The three and a half minute acid house banger is as wonky as it is physically demanding, bringing the four-track release to stark, stimulating finish.

Aside from brief stints in Los Angeles, Madrid and Amsterdam, Kije Manito lives between his hometown of Paris and an isolated village in Burgundy, the location of his personal recording studio. He revels in the split dynamic of these two homes. It often takes a departure from the urban speed of Paris to gather his ideas, take a moment to reflect and come back with something new. As introspective and withdrawn as this music might seem, despite the strange and unconventional forms it often takes, Kije Manito’s sonic signature is absolutely anchored by an impulse to dance.

Indie Current: What is your background in music? How long have you been producing/writing songs?

Kije Manito: I started with classical at conservatory in Versailles at the age of 7, learning musical theory and the piano. Then, very quickly, I started to get really interested in the production process of my favorite tracks (at this period Slum Village, De La Soul, Dr. Dre etc…) Then, around 14 years old, I started to focus my energy in composing and producing and started to play music with turntables, synths, and drum machines.

IC:What is your racial background? Is your family originally from France or do you have family anywhere else?

KM: My father is French of Breton origin and my mother is Berber, of Algerian origin. They are both in the artistic community. My mother has founded the Berber world music group DJURDJURA.

IC: How did you come to meet Emma Bergmann, the featured vocalist on “Majestaju” and “Ctwo”? What was the collaboration process like? 

KM: Emma is a friend of a good friend of mine. Everything started with Majestaju. We met in Paris to try something on it. I was pleasantly surprised. So, naturally we decided to go in Burgundy in my studio to record the final version and also record the lyrics on “Ctwo” at the same time.

IC: Are you more comfortable making experimental vocal music or instrumental, club-type tracks like “My Girl Scout Cookie”? Which comes more naturally to you?

KM: I started to mix in different clubs in France when I was very young, so it’s very natural for me to create club tracks with BPM around 115/130 but I also have a hip-hop background. So, I really like to create both. This is why on the EP, I choose to put one club tracks among the other “future/experimental” tracks. There are very different sides in my work but I really like to create both. For me it’s more about the melody and the atmosphere. The goal is to continually improve regardless the exercise.

IC: Are there any people, places, or ideas that inspired your debut EP?

KM: Concerning the idea behind Majestaju, relationships, travels and people I met really inspired me. Moreover, I produced that Ep in a special place, my house in Burgundy.

IC: If you could collaborate with any vocalist alive who would it be?

KM: Currently, I really like Sevedaliza.

IC: What do you listen to in your downtime? 

KM: I listen a lot of different stuff… I continue to listen electronic artist like Jamie xx, FKJ in my downtime but I also listen a lot of classic stuff: Nina Simone, Curtis Mayfield, Cory Henry. Some world music and a lot of classic hip hop like A Tribe Called Quest, Slum Village. I think you can feel all the different inspirations in my music.

Stream Majestaju below.

Angel E. Fraden

Head Editor | Photographer | angel@indiecurrent.com View all post →