A Q&A with Swedish Progressive House DJ
I was enjoying a quiet, early morning on the beach listening to a hustle-themed podcast when my email chimed. It was the interview I prepared for Michael Hansen (AKA Manse): A glimpse into the life of an up-and-coming progressive house DJ. After stalking him on Instagram and swaying my hips to “Where We Want to Be,” I felt like I already knew him — which is common with all artists we follow on social media — but what you might not know is what’s behind the successful producer and what makes him tick.
Hailing from one of the electronic music capitals of the world (Stockholm, Sweden!) Manse has actually been in the industry for nearly a decade, performing at venues and festivals around the world. Through modern-day ways of communication across continents, he graciously answered all of my juicy questions about his career and how he stays relevant.
Crescent Louise: I think I’m a quarter Swedish. Electronic music is steeped in Swedish influences — not that me being Swedish matters — but how do you think being Swedish has influenced your music?
Michael Hansen: Then we are almost family, hehe! Sweden is a big music export. I think this is because we are taught that creativity is something healthy and good for us in school. Early on, we have mandatory music classes where we learn different instruments, how to read notes, even how to write lyrics — all in regular school — even though we have plenty of music schools. I think this has a huge influence on how Swedes are shaped musically. We’re proud of our musical roots and artists like ABBA, Ace Of Base, Max Martin and many more.
I believe that if you love what you do, then its easier to find inspiration to work hard, focus and keep finishing music to share with my fanbase. The huge support from dedicated followers also makes me work even harder.
CL: I’m always curious how a hobby can become a livelihood. Being subjected to music so early on, do you even remember the moment you knew you were going to be an artist?
MH: I honestly don’t remember the exact moment because everything happened so fast as soon as I made the decision to work with Hardwell’s team and take a break from University and work. Creating music has always been a big part of my life — even though I should have focused on other stuff — music took a big part of my focus even though it was just a hobby. I think being persistent and patient paid off after all those years where I struggled. Luckily today, I do not regret these decisions and feel happy I am able to travel the world through my work. I’ve always been told music is just a hobby, and the chances are very minimal to have it as a career … which is why I never really thought this is what I could do for a living but I showed the right people the opposite — that hard work and passion together — can go a long way.
CL:Do you listen to your own music? And by that, I mean: do you listen to EDM?
MH: I do. I usually have a playlist mixed with all kinds of music, including my own, for when I workout. This is a great way for me to listen back to a song of mine and see if I love it myself or not. But obviously I listen more often to other peoples’ music. I do love EDM and like to blast it in my headphones but I also am in love with acoustic, indie and mainstream pop — which I listen to daily!
CL: In a recent interview, you mention some of your biggest musical inspirations are major pop artists like Michael Jackson and ABBA. Who are some relevant pop stars today that you think we should be watching?
MH: Artists like JP Cooper, Amber Run, LÉON, AURORA and Dean Lewis — just to name a few. All of their voices are so incredibly beautiful and gives me goose bumps every time.
CL:I like JP Cooper, too! Your latest “Where We Want to Be,” featuring Maruja Retana is one of my favorites of yours — and definitely goosebumps-worthy. How do you select vocals for your music?
MH: That makes me very happy to hear! It depends from song to song … sometimes I am in a studio with a few songwriters and we create something from scratch, sometimes I make an instrumental and send it out to my songwriter friends, and sometimes I receive a vocal that I’m allowed to create an instrumental around. Its always a different approach but for “Where We Want To Be” I actually got to know the guys from Hit & Run very well and they asked me if I wanted to make a deep house song around this vocal. After a few versions later I came out with a crossover sound between progressive house and deep house, which I felt was the best way to represent my sound, even though my usual sound is uplifting progressive house.
CL: Tell me about a day in the life of Manse: What’s the first thing you do in the morning?
MH: If I am not on tour a typical day starts with a run, which really helps me wake up and feel refreshed, but also gives me a boost for a creative day. After a shower I get some breakfast, put on a movie and open up Logic Pro X, which is the DAW I use, and start working on music for the rest of the day. Sometimes in the evening I meet up with friends or family for dinner — then back to work. It’s lovely.
CL:It’s no secret you’re a pretty hard worker — and nice to know you take showers, too! But in all seriousness, tell me about your work ethic and why you think it’s important.
MH: I believe that if you love what you do, then its easier to find inspiration to work hard, focus and keep finishing music to share with my fanbase. The huge support from dedicated followers also makes me work even harder. I read on a weekly basis amazing messages from fans that really touch my heart — from them expressing how my music changed their life to how it reaches them in different ways — all these factors inspire me to work hard.
CL:So clearly, social media has to be a mainstay in your daily life. Tell me how you use it.
MH: Yeah, the few past months have been very busy with making music and touring, so I haven’t been as social as I should be on a daily basis. I do use Instagram stories on a everyday, though, which in my opinion is the best way to communicate with your followers. I try to focus on posting content that I think my followers want to see, then keep it more real in my Instagram stories.
CL:Do you do your own posts? And what are your favorite platforms?
MH: Nowadays I do my own posts. There was a time when my management handled it for me, but I think it’s more fun to do it myself — I feel closer to my followers. Facebook is my personal favorite so far, then Instagram of course, but mainly for the Instastories, which is amazing!
CL: Any advice for young producers looking to start out?
MH: Make as many songs as possible for yourself and your friends. With each song you will learn something new, and after around 100-150 songs, you will understand how the process works and you will be able to create your own niche to a sound. And of course, be patient and do not force anything, even if it takes five years … or 12 years.
CL:And finally, what have you been up to lately?
MH: I just came back from a Vietnam and China tour where I had my first Chinese festival performance — which was an amazing experience. I just wrapped ADE on cot. 21 where I had a masterclass at the Revealed Recordings conference at Q-Factory in Amsterdam. Later that night I premiered some new progressive house tunes for the lovely Revealed Recordings fans.
Manse has two months off to finish some outstanding projects and get ready for new releases, tours and shows in 2018. Be sure to check out his Instastories for updates!
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[Featured image via Michael Hansen // This interview was originally published on iHeartRaves’ blog Studio 240]