By Winnie Surya. Brooklyn, NY-based musician Rush Midnight, a.k.a. Russ Manning, is bringing 80s funk, circa the Talk Talk days, back to the electronic music scene. We had the chance to speak to him about his tour with Canadian darling Lights and his upcoming new album.
How is the tour so far with Lights?
It’s very good: very big crowds and mostly sold out! Good cities! And the other band is so sweet; we haven’t had that much hanging time but at some point we hope to because everyone’s so busy.
Any crazy memories from tour so far?
Halifax was dope! I would say Halifax stood out because there were other bands at this festival, Pop Explosion. So, there were things to do after the show. With your pass, you could go see Tokyo Police Club… Unfortunately, we couldn’t get to see all the rappers or Twin Shadow or Ryan Hemsworth because we had to leave. But being in that mix is pretty cool!
So, is this your full Canadian tour?
Yeah! From Toronto East and then North East in the States.
How’s Canada so far?
Canada’s really good! So far, better than the States, but we’ve only played two shows in the States.
How is your experience with Toronto crowds?
It’s always a little different. I think New York is the toughest. People are not as willing to dance, but once you’re a developed artist, it’s a great place to play. But when you’re on the up-and-coming, it’s sometimes a challenge. Toronto has always been super positive every time we’ve been here.
Do you have any hang-outs in Toronto?
We’ve been to a bunch of bars, like this place called The Beaver – we once saw this crazy drag queen performance there. The Drake is nice; I like the Horseshoe Tavern. Kensington is cool during the day for food.
You just got signed by Last Gang Records earlier this year. So, what’s the difference between working independently and working with a label?
Well, I had another label before out of New York and they’re great. Last Gang is just like a whole other market and it’s a bigger world because the roster is kind of crazy! Jesse from Death From Above 1979 is one of my managers; Chris Taylor, the head of the label, is a legend in Canada!
Speaking of Jesse, how was your experience working with him?
He’s really good when it comes to just musical advice and honest opinions, like when you send him demos, he has favourites. I’m always trying to get as much as I can out of him!
What made you decide to cover a Lykke Li song?
My girl, Anya, she is a big Lykke Li fan and kind of got me into it. Eventually, I was messing around with all these covers (like twenty different covers), and one day, when I was messing around with that one [“Little Bit”], it felt really good. The opening was strong and we tried to keep it as stripped down as possible. My college roommate produced it for me and it was just a new direction. We never really played that kind of song.
Can you tell us about your debut album?
The inspiration is mostly this band, Change, from Minnesota. They’re an 80’s funk band. The basslines are crazy. That and some new wave elements, like Talk Talk. And it’s all just bedroom recordings: me in my bedroom. Then, eventually, afterwards, you involve other people to help mix it. It has all these stages – it’s like a mobile recording process.
What makes this debut album different from your EP?
The new album that I’m handing in, is way different! But those two to me – we played some of each album tonight, they kind of blend in with each other. It’s disco, funk R&B, a little new wave… It’s pretty straight ahead.