Manda Moor's infectious determination seeps into her bouncy yet sophisticated tracks. European audiences will most likely be familiar with the Paris-based artist, making it hard to believe she only played her first major gigs in 2019.
Her relentless drive has since landed her international gigs in some of the most acclaimed house and techno spaces, particularly in Ibiza and the UK. Her tracks have been released on acclaimed labels like Tamango Records. Her debut EP What U Want on Kaluki Musik hit number one on Beatport’s minimal tech chart.
While detailing her career, the artist repeatedly emphasizes her gratitude and wonder. Yet, despite her sincere humility, it's evident success was no accident.
A self-proclaimed party girl, Moor's love for dance music began amidst the crowds and culminated when she became a protegée of sorts of one house music's founding fathers, the late Paul Johnson.
Crossing the decks wasn't a smooth transition. I cannot help but feel sympathy as the artist reveals her struggles with anxiety. Nonetheless, her smiles while performing exude a confidence mirrored by her simultaneously warm and serious house and techno. Perhaps this melange is a reflection of her Danish-Filipino heritage. Her theory is that warmer countries inspire bouncy rhythms while colder countries inspire technicity. These coexist hypnotically in "Catfish," from Kaluki Musik's 16th Birthday EP. However, she explains, her musical influences derive mostly from her Filipino mother's side.
"I definitely got the music bug from my mother. She was a singer. Singing and music in general is a huge part of Filipino culture. She would play music whatever she was doing. There was always music in the house. Filipinos are kind of like the latinos of Asia, because the Philippines were colonised by the Spanish, then they were colonised by the Americans: that's what also brought disco and the love of singing."
Moor details the strong tribal and percussive roots of Filipino music sounds that she naturally feels drawn to in her own production.
In terms of conscious influences, Manda Moor's career constantly nods to the early Chicago house legends.
Manda Moor w/ Paul Johnson
"2019 was also the year when I started to really get into producing. That was the year I went to Chicago and met with the Chicago house legends, like Paul Johnson - rest in peace - , Dj Deeon, Dj Sneak, K'Alexi, Dj Pierre… I'm so blessed to have them in my life, and to know them personally. I consider them as family, they really, really inspire me to this day. They inspired the whole music industry! They are the founding fathers, the pillars of house music today. So, yeah when I went to Chicago it lit a fire in me to produce. That's how I started, basically. Obviously today if you want to be a successful dj and artist in the electronic world, you need to make your own music."
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We touch briefly on the tragic death of Paul Johnson, and it's clear the artist has been deeply affected by the loss. Yet, his legacy lives on through Moor's career, particularly through her long-term residency on France's first national electronic music radio station, FG.
"I was speaking with FG about how I met the Chicago house legends. That kind of revived within them the need to reconnect with the origins. So, they really encouraged me to play more of that type of music even though it's not real mainstream for a big radio station. It's just all about the reconnection with the origins which was the initial foundation of FG."
The pandemic brought about more opportunities to reconnect with origins. Together with fellow France-based artist Sirus Hood, Moor founded Mood Edits. The concept was a limited series of edits, released only on Bandcamp. Every month a new volume of three or four edits was released, and the previous volume deleted.
"The idea was to give value back to music, whilst reminiscing the good times with tracks that we remixed. It was disco, hip hop, R&B tracks. We really felt that there was an oversaturation of music, partly due to streaming."
The edits received widespread support from acclaimed electronic artists like Pete Tong who played “Slow Touch” and introduced the series on BBC Radio 1.
Moor joyfully recounts the gratitude she felt when major artists, like The Martinez Brothers, played Mood Edits at events in the summer of 2020.
She attributes a major growth point in her career to videos of these edits circulating social media. Yet, after 12 volumes, the duo halted Mood Edits in fear of being subcategorized as purely "edit DJs" - though Moor passionately explains that that house music itself commenced with edits of disco tracks.
Just as one door closes for the driven artist, another opens. In 2022, the artist hopes to announce her very own label. The label will similarly focus on giving value back to music but aims to differentiate itself by implementing blockchain technology.
Moor's closing statement regarding 2022 aptly embodies her humbling attitude.
"Very excited for this year. Hopefully it's going to be so much better than the past two. In any case, I'm super grateful whatever happens."
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