20 Questions is a Q&A interview series with musicians, authors, and everyone in between, celebrating experiences both shared and individual in the messy game of being human.
Venezuelan-born Manny Wilde is a Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter sharing his peculiar ensemble of sensibilities with the West Coast. While sprouting his roots in rock & roll, Wilde soon found his calling in mixing his jazz-folk vocals with a sound closer to the blues ground. Ray Charles, Van Morrison, and Frank Sinatra serve as the biggest influences in Wilde’s vocal roster while his instrumentals maintain a jazz-blues incense more in the vain of Neil Young. His commitment to bringing an audience to visit his emotional wavelengths exemplifies Wilde’s faith in emotional honesty. Whether with his guitar, piano, or harmonica at the helm, he aims to mix old influences with what’s relevant today. Themes of love, acceptance, and redemption cover his lyrical works with a call back to the days of Nick Drake and Bob Dylan.
For this week’s edition of 20 Questions, I got to know Manny, his passions, his debut single “The Way I Do,” and more.
What inspired you to pursue a career in jazz music?
Jazz and blues are the most authentic types of music, in my opinion. Oh, and folk too. The type of sound you hear from those genres bring out the words best. It’s very real, very organic. And I guess also having a lower baritone kind of voice put me in that path of those genres. It just fits and makes most sense in my head.
What type of song is your favorite to write?
Love songs and sad songs, is there really anything else? But really, my favorite type of songs to write are the introspective kind — the type that make you think and maybe build your own perspective.
Which artists did you grow up listening to?
You know, I really wish I grew up listening to what my dad heard as a teenager/young adult. But I didn’t get to that stuff until later in my life. I think that would’ve sped up the musician process. But anyway, I grew up listening to a lot of 2000s hip-hop, then in high school I had a metal phase. And then I had a guitar teacher that played a lot of blues. That’s when everything really started turning for me and I began to listen to a lot of the older classics.
Right now, who are your biggest influences, both musically and stylistically?
Recently (for a while now, actually) it’s been Alicia Blue. I am so intrigued by her and her music that it just inspires me to keep going and going on my own musical journey. Love watching her career grow; she’s an amazing person.
Where is your favorite place in the world to be?
There’s this little grassy area in Sequoia National Park that I fell in love with. Pure silence. You can actually hear yourself think!
Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
Depends on the type of day and what we’re drinking, my friend.
New Year’s Eve/Day.
How would you characterize your debut single “The Way I Do”?
“Count Basie”-esque and fun! It really brings back that old jazz swing style.
Biggest pet peeve?
Being late — drives me NUTS!
The last series you binge-watched?
I really can’t recall since I don’t watch too much TV. But we are currently watching The Sopranos. Good God, what a MASTERPIECE.
Favorite book of all-time?
Lilly and the Octopus by Steven Rowley.
One song that you will never be sick of?
“Revelator Eyes” by The Paper Kites. Seriously, it’s always the go-to track for me.
Most expensive thing you’ve ever shamelessly splurged on?
I think for a Christmas party I spent $700-something on a nice pair of dress pants, dress shirt, tie, dress shoes and a leather jacket. Maybe that’s not a lot to some but it certainly was for me since I don’t normally do those kinds of things. It felt great. And I looked even better.
One movie that will always make you cry?
Hmm, probably Benjamin Button. Such a poignant film, but very gratifying.
Favorite quote of all-time?
“If you’re not scared, then you’re not taking a chance. And if you’re not taking a chance, then what the hell are you doing anyway?!” Brownie points to whoever knows that one!
You’re stuck on a long flight. Which world-famous musician would you want sitting next to you and why?
Probably Elton John. He seems like such a great guy and fun to be around. What hasn’t he done?
Favorite song to get your blood moving?
“Safaera” by Bad Bunny.
One thing that’s been keeping you sane throughout the COVID-19 pandemic?
Being able to keep in touch with close friends, so, my cellphone. Oh, and edibles.
Music or podcasts?
Podcasts are hard for me to get into so I usually stick to music and either try to find new things to learn from or put on some ambient stuff to relax.
What can we expect to hear next from you?
Currently I am working with my arranger and friend Victor Ochoa on two more tracks. One talks about how love can be deceiving even when it’s most honest. And the other track talks about Venezuela from a nostalgic point of view. Stay tuned!